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Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment

Home Study Turf Care Course.

Study turf management for both commercial and private applications.

A comprehensive introduction to the identification, selection, culture and management of turf – for recreational, commercial and home use.

  • This 100 hour qualification is suitable for people already working with turf or keen amateurs.
  • Improve your knowledge of turf care.
  • Written and taught by industry experts.

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Explore the Use of Turf in Commercial and Private Landscaping.

  • Do you want to Work in the Turf Industry?
  •  or maybe just grow the best lawn in your neighbourhood?

... if so, this is the course for you!

Understand more about the different lawn and turf species and how to make sure they look their best by providing optimal nutrition and care.


There are 11 lessons in Turf Care, which include the content listed below:

Lesson 1. Introduction

  • Benefits of turf.
  • History of Turf.
  • Turf Varieties (Bent, Couch, Buffalo, Fescue, Rye, Carpet grass, Kikuyu, Brome, Bluegrass, Philaris, etc.).
  • Lawn mixes.

Lesson 2. Turf Grass Physiology

  • Morphology, flower, stems, leaves, roots.
  • Other characteristics.
  • How to identify grasses.
  • Plant Keys.
  • Identifying short cuts.

Lesson 3. Turf Establishment

  • Soil preparation.
  • Seeding.
  • Sodding.
  • Stolonizing.
  • Sprigging.
  • Plugging.
  • Chitted Seed.
  • Drainage.
  • Work scheduling.
  • Estimating costs.

Lesson 4. Soils

  • Understanding soil.
  • Texture.
  • Soil blends.
  • Structure.
  • pH.
  • Buffering capacity.
  • Improving Soils.
  • Choosing soils.
  • Calculating soil quantities.
  • Cation exchange.
  • Plant nutrients.
  • Fertilisers.

Lesson 5. Turf Weed Problems

  • How weeds spread.
  • Non chemical controls.
  • Chemical controls.
  • Chemical safety.

Lesson 6. Turf Pests and Diseases

  • Chemical and non-chemical controls.
  • Common turf health problems (Environmental, Nutrition, Pest, Disease).

Lesson 7. Turf Maintenance Techniques

  • Mowing.
  • Mowers.
  • Length of Cut.
  • Getting a clean cut, pattern of cutting, cutting on slopes, after cutting.
  • Mower safety.
  • Aeration.
  • Coring.
  • Scarification.
  • Spiking.

Lesson 8. Irrigation - An Overview

  • Water loss from soils.
  • Improving water retention.
  • Movement of water in soil.
  • Field capacity.
  • Estimating water needs of turf.
  • Watering turf.
  • When to irrigate
  • Irrigation rate.
  • Types of irrigation.

Lesson 9. Playing Fields and Bowling Greens

  • Gradients and dimensions for different surfaces (ornamental, types of sports etc.).
  • Construction of a playing field.
  • Sand based technology.
  • Golf Courses.
  • Cricket Wickets.

Lesson 10. Managing Established Turf

  • Mowing.
  • Watering.
  • Topdressing.
  • Fertilizing.
  • Weed and Pest control.

Lesson 11. Establishing Ornamental Turf

  • Assessing the site.
  • Developing Plans.
  • Preparing a budget.



  • Identify the range of grasses and other species available for turf culture.
  • Explain the management of soils for growing turf.
  • Identify methods for the establishment of turf.
  • Explain the management of problems in turf including weeds, pests and diseases.
  • Explain maintenance practices used in turf management.
  • Plan the development of different turfs used for sport.
  • Develop plans to establish a turfed area.
  • Develop management strategies for the care of established turf.


It is Critical to Choose an Appropriate Variety of Turf to Grow

There are lots of choices when it comes to planting a lawn but perhaps the most important one is what variety of turf grass to grow.

Most lawns are, in fact, a combination of different types of grasses – and perhaps other types of plants as well (usually unintentionally as weeds invade the lawn).

Ideally the lawn is a mix of grass varieties that are suited to different times of the year – as one grass variety grows strongly in winter, another weakens, then in hot weather the weaker variety grows rapidly as the other one diminishes. In theory, you should always have one strongly growing variety that dominates and chokes out any invading weeds.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work, as one grass often grows stronger than others, and ends up being the only variety in the lawn. As the grass goes into its dormant period, the lawn loses its vigour and the weeds start to take hold. So it’s important to choose a mix of varieties which grow well throughout the year.

When choosing varieties, you should consider:

  • your locality – lawn grasses are divided into two main groups: cool season and warm season grasses. Cool season grasses grow well in cool climates and during winter in warm climates; warm season grasses are best suited to frost free areas. You can grow cool season grasses in warmer areas but they will require extra watering during summer. Most warm season grasses can be grown in cooler areas but will brown off during winter.
  • soil type and fertility – most grasses prefer well drained, sandy loam, with a slightly acid pH (5.5-6.5). 
  • water (natural rainfall and irrigation) – water requirements vary considerably between varieties, eg. cool season grasses, especially bent grass,  require frequent watering though summer, whereas warm season grasses are generally more drought tolerant.

Above all, unless you are prepared to spend the effort and money to have a perfect lawn, do not try for the best lawn. An immaculate velvet green lawn just isn't possible in some areas, especially if your backyard is used as a play area. If you have a dog, an energetic family, and not much spare time for lawn maintenance, choose the hardier varieties which will look good throughout the year for minimal effort.


BENT GRASS (Agrostis tenuis)
Sometimes known as common bent or colonial bent. A cool season grass which grows in clumps or creeps (i.e. produces tufts, but throws out runners as well). Grows on all soils but prefers well drained sandy soils. It has a very fine leaf blade, producing a uniform surface. Requires high maintenance and frequent watering in summer.

  • Establishment: Seed.
  • Uses: High quality lawn grass, frequently used in bowling and golf greens. Sometimes used with fescues for ornamental turf.
  • Varieties: Highland bent, Pencross, Astoria, NZ, Seaside bent.

CREEPING BENT (Agrostis palustris)
A cool season grass with dense fine-leaved foliage and profuse creeping stems. It has a very smooth surface. It is shallow-rooted and requires frequent watering in summer.

  • Establishment: Seed.
  • Uses: Ornamental and recreational turf. Excellent in seaside areas.
  • Varieties: Palaustris, Woodland, Maritima, Pencross.

CHEWINGS FESCUE (Festuca rubra var. commutata)
A cool season tussock-forming grass. Forms a fine textured, erect growing, dense lawn. If treated unfavourably, it can become tufted.  Recuperative potential is medium-poor. Adapts well to shade and tolerates dry periods. Best cut high (50 mm). Tolerates wear better than bents. Best in well drained sandy soils.

  • Establishment: Seed.
  • Uses: With Kentucky bluegrass as general purpose turf.

Similar to Chewings Fescue, except this grass creeps (rather than forming a tussock). The rate of growth of upright shoots is slower than most cool season grasses (ie. mowing does not need to be as frequent).

  • Establishment: Seed and sprigs.
  • Uses: Has wide application on road sides, parks, golf fairways, cemeteries, ornamental lawns, airfields etc.  Often planted with perennial ryegrass.

TALL FESCUE (Fescue arundinaceae)
Tussock forming coarse-textured grass. Tolerates a wide range of conditions and is the most drought and wear resistant cool season grass. 

  • Establishment: Seed.
  • Uses: Road sides, parks, sports fields, ornamental lawns.
  • Varieties: Shortstop, Falcon and Marathon.

Cool season tussock-forming grass which grows on a side variety of soils (prefers good drainage). Requires regular fertilizing to produce a good turf. Does not stand close mowing.

  • Uses: Widely used on golf tees and fairways, mixed with other grasses for home gardens and in ornamental areas.
  • Varieties: Common Kentucky Bluegrass, Park, Newport.

A hardy, upright growing cool season grass with relatively good recuperative capacity and capable of withstanding considerable wear. For best results, requires generous fertilizing. Broader leaf blade than bents.

  • Establishment: Seed.
  • Uses: Wide application (perhaps the most commonly used turf), usually combined with other grasses. Sports fields, parklands and residential lawns.

ANNUAL RYEGRASS (Lolium multiflorum)
Also known as Italian Ryegrass.  Similar to perennial rye, however shorter lived (can tend to act as a biennial, dying out of a turf after a year or two).

  • Establishment: Seed.
  • Uses: Sometimes used to provide a quick interim cover until other turf species develop fully.

COUCH (Cynodon dactylon)
Also known as Bermuda Couch. A creeping, warm season grass, although it grows quite successfully in cooler parts of Australia. In cold frosty areas, it will turn brown, going into a dormant period over winter, before resprouting in spring. This dormancy can be shortened by an application of superphosphate a few weeks before dormancy starts. If closely mown, couch will form a dense smooth turf. Frequent scarifying, brushing and top dressing is needed to prevent a buildup of thatch. Good drainage, plenty of water and frequent fertilizing is necessary for good results. 

  • Establishment: Seed, sprigs and runners.
  • Uses: Greens, turf wickets, tennis courts, sports grounds, children's play areas and any other areas suffering considerable wear and tear.
  • Varieties: Wintergreen, Greenlees Park, Windsor Green, Santa Ana.

SOUTH AFRICAN COUCH (Cynodon transvalensis)
Similar to common couch except that the leaf blade is finer (thus making it more desirable for greens).

QUEENSLAND BLUE COUCH (Digitaria didactyla)
Creeping warm season grass, with coarse, blue-green leaves. Forms a dense, soft lawn. Adaptable and reasonably hard wearing. Can be invasive.

  • Establishment: Seed, sprigs and runners.
  • Uses: Golf courses, greens, residential areas.

KIKUYU (Pennisetum clandestrium)
A thick-stemmed summer-growing grass, perhaps a little hardier than couch. Adaptable to most soils, drought tolerant and very wear resistant. Produces a thick spongy turf. Needs frequent mowing in summer and is very invasive.

  • Establishment: Seed, but is easier using sprigs.
  • Uses: Widely used on race tracks, also in some home gardens, park land, erosion control, roadsides etc.

BUFFALO GRASS (Stenotaphrum secundatum)
Creeping warm season grass, which forms a dense, coarse lawn. Withstands average domestic use and is quite shade, drought and salt tolerant. Can become spongy.

  • Establishment: Runners.
  • Uses: Domestic lawns, coastal areas
  • Varieties: Velvet Buffalo.

Lawn Mixes

There are a number of commercially prepared mixes which are blended for specific climatic conditions and uses. These vary from place to place, but might be something like one of the following examples:
  • A blend of couch and bent grass; suitable for warm, dry climates
  • A blend of couch, Kentucky bluegrass and strawberry clover; suitable for hot, dry summer conditions, eg. SA
  • A high proportion of bent grass, smaller amount of Kentucky bluegrass, some fescue; suitable for colder climates
  • A high proportion of Kentucky bluegrass, smaller amount of bent grass, some fescue; suitable for temperate and cool areas  
  • Bent grass, perennial rye grass; quick cover for less formal lawns in temperate areas
  • A parkland mix might be a large proportion of perennial rye grass, small amounts of couch and bent

What to Grow Where

In general, mixes which contain a high proportion of couch are best suited to warm, dry climates, while mixes with bent grass, Kentucky blue, rye grass and fescues are suitable for cool temperate to cold areas.

Cool winters/dry summers (e.g. Southern England)
Couch, buffalo, tall fescue, kikuyu.

Mild summers/cold winters (e.g. Midlands in England)
Fescues, Kentucky blue grass, rye grass, couch.

Warm to hot/humid (e.g. Spain)
Couch, buffalo, kikuyu, Queensland blue couch.

Tropical (e.g. Northern Australia)
Couch, Queensland blue couch, buffalo.



This is a great foundation course that sets the scene for a lifelong passionate affair with lawns and turf. Some student may go no further than just this course; and this course alone may be all you need to get started in a business or career working with lawns or sports turf. 

This course is really the minimum that everyone who works with turf should learn; whether as a green keeper, groundsman, property manager, or operating your own garden care or lawn mowing business.

The turf industry is a big industry and opportunities abound for anyone who understands how to grow and manage turf. Start your journey here, and enrol today


"Thanks for the videos, they are great! I got a lot of information from them. The Turf Management video is practical and easy to understand. Plant Propagation is a video every student should watch because out here in the real world no-one would give out such information. The Rose Growing Tape was very beneficial to me as I have about 60 odd roses. I thought I knew a little about them but this tape is a real eye-opener."
- Kelvin



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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.
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.
Garden Design Part 1The Garden Design ebook part 1 is an essential handbook for students and landscape professionals. A foundation guide to garden design, this book provides stunning full illustrations to demonstrate tips and examples on garden design, functional uses and aesthetics. Some topics that are covered in this ebook include 1/ Introduction to Garden Design, 2/ Appropriateness of garden design, 3/ Creating an impact, 4/ Designing to a budget, 5/ Choosing plants, 6/ Using the garden, 7/ Where the garden meets the house, 8/ Making the winter garden more comfortable, 9/ Gardens for children, 10/The secure home and garden, 11/ Lighting a garden, 12/ Dealing with shade, 13/ Garden Art, 14/ Pots and planters, 15/ Colour in the garden, 16/ Applications for colour and 17/ Garden furniture.
Getting Work in HorticultureExplore what it is like to work in horticulture; how diverse this industry is, how to get a start, and how to build a sustainable, long term and diverse career that keeps your options broad, so you can move from sector to sector as demand and fashion changes across your working life.
Plant Pests & DiseasesAre you one of those people that kill every plant you touch? Perhaps it's not you. Perhaps it's a pest or disease. A little bit of reading might just turn your garden into an oasis. Learn how to identify pests and diseases and bring the spring back into your plant...visit the bookshop to find out more...