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Duration (approx) 150 hours
Qualification Certificate
Gain a Foundation Certificate in Residential Garden Planning and Care Level 2 by Distance Learning.  
  • This course provides a route to employment in professional horticulture by assessing knowledge of the scientific principles and underpinning horticultural practices.
  • It supports career development for those already working in the profession.
  • A useful qualification which provides a foundation for further learning or training in the field of horticulture.




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Study for a Foundation Certificate by Distance Learning.


Foundation Certificate in Residential Garden Planning and Care Level 2


  • Learn garden design principles, and how to apply them.
  • Gain knowledge of plant selection, establishment, and maintenance.
  • Learn about lawns - turf establishment, maintenance, and renovation.
  • Learn about soils, environmental considerations and weed control.
  • Develop an understanding of protected cultivation, fruit production, and more.



Course Duration: 150 hours.

Start Date: Start at any time - study at a pace that suits you, and with full tutor support for the duration of your studies.

Lessons: The course comprises 10 lessons which are spread across 4 units:


Unit 1: Garden features, plant selection and planning.

Unit 2: The choice, establishment and maintenance of garden plants and lawns.

Unit 3: The production of outdoor vegetables and fruit.

Unit 4: Protected environments and their use in plant cultivation.




Lesson 1. Principles of Garden Design (Unit 1)

  • Introduction.
  • Landscape Principles (Unity, Balance, Proportion, Harmony, Contrast, Rhythm).
  • Design Elements (Line, Form, Mass, Space, Texture, Colour, Tone).
  • Landscape Effects.
  • Colour in Garden Design.
  • Formal Gardens.
  • Informal Gardens.
  • Cottage Gardens.
  • Minimalist Gardens.
  • Natural Landscapes.
  • Oriental Gardens.
  • Mediterranean Gardens.
  • Tropical Gardens.
  • Plant Identification, Culture and Use -Reviewing a range of plants.


Lesson 2. Conducting Garden Surveys and Planning (Unit 1)

  • Appraising a Site and Collecting Data for Planning.
  • Components of the Pre-Planning Phase.
  • Use of Hard Garden Features and Hard Surfaces.
  • Scale for Landscape Plans.
  • Triangulation.
  • Surveying Slope.
  • Direct Contouring.
  • The Grid System.
  • Levelling Terminology and Procedure.
  • The site Plan.
  • Concept Plan.
  • Final Plan.
  • Other Plans.
  • Design Procedure.
  • Landscape Graphics.
  • Putting Pen to Paper.
  • Lettering and Graphics.


Lesson 3. Use of Hard Garden Features and Hard Surfaces (Unit 1)

  • Hard and Soft Landscaping.
  • Surfaces in the Garden.
  • Paving.
  • Using Pebbles.
  • Rockeries.
  • Mulching and Erosion Matting.
  • Barriers and Walls.
  • Trellis.
  • Types of Fencing.
  • Patios.
  • Seating.
  • Garden Structures.
  • Garden Art, Features and Furnishings.
  • Pools, Ponds and Water Gardens.
  • Environmental Sustainability.


Lesson 4. Use of Soft Garden Features(Unit 1)

  • Choosing Plants.
  • Purchasing Plants.
  • Trees in the Landscape (Deciduous, Semi Deciduous, Evergreen).
  • Shrubs.
  • Perennials and Herbs.
  • Types of Herb Gardens.
  • Wildflower Meadows.
  • Perennial Displays.
  • Annuals.
  • Flower Bed Design.
  • Cottage Gardens.
  • Scented Plants.
  • Climbers and Growing plants on Trellis.
  • Lawns and Turf varieties.


Lesson 5. Plant Establishment and Maintenance (Unit 2)

  • Plants in the Landscape.
  • Plant Selection.
  • Environmental Factors.
  • Improving Environmental Conditions.
  • Selecting the Right Plant.
  • Which Plant to Buy.
  • Understanding Soils and Fertility.
  • Plant Nutrition.
  • Preparing a Garden.
  • Transplanting Techniques.
  • Fertilising and Staking.
  • Planting Bare Rooted Plants.
  • Time of Planting.
  • Planting Mistakes to Avoid.
  • Gardening in Dry Areas.
  • Colourful Year Round Foliage.
  • Establishing Annual and Herbaceous Plants.
  • Seed.
  • Selecting Herbaceous Plants and Bulbs.
  • Dividing and Separating Perennials.
  • Herbaceous Borders.
  • Maximising Flower Displays.
  • Selecting Woody Plants.
  • Trees and Tree Health.
  • Selecting Flowering Shrubs.
  • Hedges.
  • Climbers.
  • Water Plants and Pond Management.
  • Plant Health.
  • Weed Management.


Lesson 6. Pruning (Unit 2)

  • What, Where and Why Prune.
  • Removing Dead and Diseased Wood.
  • Controlling Type of Growth.
  • Distinguishing between Bud Types.
  • Controlling Shape and Size.
  • Pruning to Rejuvenate a Plant.
  • Winter Pruning.
  • How to Prune.
  • Pruning Different Specific Plant Genera.
  • Espaliers.
  • Dead Heading.
  • Tree Pruning.
  • Stopping, Disbudding, Root Pruning, Dead heading etc.


Lesson 7. Lawns: Establishment and Maintenance (Unit 2)

  • Turf Establishment.
  • Soil Preparation.
  • Seeding, Stolonising, Sodding, Sprigging, Plugging.
  • Mowers and Mowing Turf.
  • Fertilising Turf.
  • Renovation: aeration, scarification, top dressing etc.


Lesson 8. Outdoor Food Production: Vegetables (Unit 3)

  • Introduction to Growing Outdoor Food Crops.
  • Growing Techniques for Vegetables.
  • Planning a Crop.
  • Starting a Vegetable Garden.
  • Managing the Crop (Weed Control, Pests, Water etc.).
  • Special Techniques: No Dig, Green Manure, Cover Crops, Compost etc.).
  • Sustainable Cultivation Techniques.
  • Planting Techniques.
  • Review of major Vegetable Crops.
  • Managing Water and Irrigation.


Lesson 9. Outdoor Food Production: Fruit (Unit 3)

  • Choosing a Site and Establishing an Orchard.
  • Location, Climate, Rainfall and other Site Considerations.
  • Deciding what to Grow.
  • Scope of Fruit Growing.
  • Pest and Disease Management on Fruit - Chemical and Non Chemical.
  • Environmental Problems and their Management.
  • Pruning Fruit Trees.
  • Pollination.
  • Review of Significant types of Fruits, Berries and Citrus.
  • Developing a Production Plan.


Lesson 10. Protected Cultivation (Unit 4)

  • Introduction to Protected Growing.
  • Types of Growing Structures.
  • Factors Affecting Light Transmission in Growing Structures.
  • Management of Greenhouses: Benches, Hygiene, Watering, Temperature Control etc.
  • Shade Houses.
  • Computerised Environmental Control.
  • Heating Systems.
  • Controlling Light.
  • Irrigation & Nutrition Control.
  • Feeding Plants.
  • Pest and Disease Control in Greenhouses.
  • Containers for Growing in.
  • Potting Media.
  • Indoor Plants and their Management.


  • Develop an understanding of design principles and how to apply them - basic surveying, garden features, plant selection, garden planning.
  • Develop an understanding of plant selection, establishment and maintenance of a range of ornamental plants and lawns.
  • Develop an understanding of basic cultural operations and production methods for outdoor vegetable and fruit crops.
  • Develop an understanding of environmental controls - uses and appropriate applications of greenhouses and other protected plant growing structures; the production of a range of plants in protected structures and the care of plants in the house and conservatory.


You can start the course at any time.

It is studied by distance learning, so you can study in the comfort of your own home. But this doesn't mean you are all alone in your studies.  Our highly qualified and friendly tutors are there to help you every step of the way.  If you have any questions at all, they are always happy to help.

Each lesson includes set tasks, and is completed with an assignment which the student submits to their course tutor.  The tutor will mark the assignment and return this to the student with comments and suggestions for further reading. 


  • Our courses are written and taught by experienced professionals, so you know you can expect a high quality of teaching and support.

  • You can start the course at any time and study at your own pace.

  • Fit your studies around your own busy lifestyle - we provide full tutor support for all the time you are studying.

  • Study where you want to - online studies offer the flexibility for you to determine where and when you study.



Graduates will feel confident that their qualification can be assured that they will stand in good stead for employment opportunities in a range of horticulture areas including:

  • Landscaping
  • Garden design
  • Garden maintenance
  • Garden conservation and restoration
  • Parks and gardens


It's easy to enrol - simply go to the enrolment box at the top right-hand side of this page. If you have any QUESTIONS, please do get in touch with us - our horticulture tutors would love to hear from you; connect with them using our FREE COURSE COUNSELLING SERVICE.

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Courses can be started anytime from anywhere in the world!

Meet some of our academics

Dr Lynette Morgan (Horticulture)Lyn worked with Rivendell Mushroom Farm between 1986 and 88; and then as a research assistant and technician for a few years while undertaking university studies. In 1991 she graduated from Massey University with a Bachelor of Horticultural Science (Hons) which covered broad horticultural sciences, as well as nursery vegetable and fruit production. Throughout the 90's she worked in both the nursery industry and horticultural crop production, before establishing her own business "Suntec" which has built an exceptional international reputation providing consulting services; particularly in hydroponic crop production. Dr Morgan has a broad expertise in horticulture and crop production, and a keen appreciation of the global scene. She travels widely as a partner in Suntec Horticultural Consultants, and has clients in central America, the USA, Caribbean, South East Asia, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.
John Mason (Horticulturist)Horticulturist, Nurseryman, Landscaper, Garden Writer, Parks Manager and Consultant. Over 45 years experience; working in Australia and the UK. He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world; author of more than 100 books and editor for 4 different gardening magazines. John has been recognised by his peers being made a fellow of the Institute of Horticulture in the UK, as well as by the Australian Institute of Horticulture.
Diana Cole (Horticulturist)Horticulturist, Permaculturist, Landscaper, Environmentalist. Holds a Diploma in Horticulture, degree in geography, permaculture certificate and various other qualifications. Between 1985 and 94, Diana was a task leader with the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers. Since 2001 she has been chairperson of the Friends of Mellor Park (with Stockport MDC). From 2005 she has worked exclusively in horticulture as proprietor of her own garden design and consultancy business in and around Derbyshire; and at the same time as part time manager of a small garden centre. Diana has been an enthusiastic and very knowledgeable tutor with ACS since 2008.
Yvonne Sharpe (Horticulturist)Started gardening in 1966, studied a series of horticulture qualifications throughout the 1980's and 90's, culminating in an RHS Master of Horticulture. Between 89 and 1994, she worked teaching in horticultural therapy. Founded the West Herts Garden Association in 1990 and exhibited at Chelsea Flower Show in 1991. In 1994, Yvonne joined the staff at Oaklands College, and between 1996 and 2000 was coordinator for all Amenity Horticulture courses at that college. Since leaving Oakland she has been active as a horticultural consultant, retail garden centre proprietor and sessional lecturer (across many colleges in southern England). In 2000, she also completed a Diploma in Management.

Check out our eBooks

Growing & Knowing GrassesThe Growing & Knowing Grasses ebook will provide you with everything that you need to know about grass. Get to all about the botany of grasses, how to identify them, how to cultivate grasses, the different uses for grasses and also includes a detailed illustrated encyclopedia of grasses and grass-like plants.
BanksiasLearn more about Banksias in this 62 page ebook with pictures. Knowing which banksia to plant can be difficult given the different growing conditions.
Landscaping & Gardening in the ShadeLandscaping and Gardening in the Shade will involve many considerations including buildings, plants and care of plants.
Garden Design Part 2Part 2 of the Garden Design Series is an inspiring accompaniment to the first book, but works equally well in its own right. The Garden Design Part 2 ebook is ideal for students and landscaping professionals. Brimming with ideas and practical advice for designing a wide variety of different gardens. You will learn about different styles of gardens and how to create a style to suit a site or client. Topics covered in this ebook include 18/ (Continuing on from Garden Design 1) Surfacing ideas, 19/ Garden arches, pergolas & pavilions, 20/ Dealing with confined spaces, 21/ Water gardens, 22/ Using plants in the garden, 23/ Formal gardens, 24/ Natural gardens, 25/ Rainforest gardens, 26/ Coastal gardens, 27/ Cottage gardens, 28/ Late Victorian/Edwardian gardens, 29/ Oriental gardens, 30/ Mediterranean gardens, 31/ Mexican style, 32/ Minimalist landscape design and 33/ Eclectic gardens.