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Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment

Interested in horticulture? Want to help others?

Horticultural therapy (also known as social and therapeutic horticulture’) uses the activities associated with horticulture such as gardening, plant propagation, plant care, visits to natural environments and gardens and parks etc. in personal development; to engender a feeling of well-being, improve physical health and encourage social interaction.

Involvement with plants and time spent in gardens has also been used for many years as a viable part of aged care, particularly for patents with dementia and for patients convalescing in hospitals or in care a pleasant view of a landscape and / or garden has proved to significantly reduce the recovery time for patients lucky enough to have a landscape of plants and greenery to look at each day.

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Empower people to experience the joys and miracles of gardening

Horticultural therapy (also known as‘social and therapeutic horticulture’) uses the activities associated with horticulture such as gardening, plant propagation, plant care, visits to natural environments and gardens and parks etc. in personal development; to engender a feeling of well-being, improve physical health and encourage social interaction.

Involvement with plants and time spent in gardens has also been used for many years as a viable part of aged care, particularly for patents with dementia and for patients convalescing in hospitals or in care a pleasant view of a landscape and / or garden has proved to significantly reduce the recovery time for patients lucky enough to have a landscape of plants and greenery to look at each day.

Professional Development Course for

  • Health and Care Workers
  • Horticultural Staff
  • People working in a Sheltered Workshop
  • Rehabilitation staff
  • Anyone else interested in therapeutic horticulture


There are 9 lessons in this course:

  1. Scope and Nature of Horticultural Therapy

  2. Understanding Disabilities and Communicating with people with disabilities - Communication, Teaching and Counselling Skills

  3. Risk Management - Hygiene for Vulnerable people; Extra Risks to be Considered in a Therapy Situation

  4. Accessibility and Activities for People with Mobility issues

  5. Enabling the Disabled (with Restricted Motor Skills)

  6. Producing Things - Vegetables, Propagation, Fruit, Herbs

  7. Growing in Containers - Vertical Gardens, Pots, Hydroponics

  8. Creating a Therapeutic Garden

  9. Generating Income

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

Who Uses Horticultural Therapy?

Horticultural therapy is used for people with a wide range of cognitive, physical and social skills, including those people -

  • Suffering from stroke.
  • Suffering from heart disease.
  • With sight impairment.
  • With dementia.
  • With learning disabilities.
  • With physical disabilities (including amputees).
  • With underdeveloped social skills.
  • Chronically unemployed.
  • Disengaged teenagers.
  • In substance abuse recovery.
  • Recovering from illness.
  • Coming to terms with grief.
  • Adjusting after personal difficulties in their lives.
  • With terminal illness.
  • Rehabilitating after a period in hospital.
  • With physical restrictions - such as the elderly.
  • Children – in general.

Gardening is both one of the most popular leisure time pursuits, as well as a significant commercial industry:

  • It offers the participant a wide range of both physical and psychological benefits.
  • It allows people with mobility limitations (at almost all levels), an opportunity to participate in something – even someone who can do little more than drop a seed into some soil and watch it grow, can be involved in gardening.
  • It is a dynamic activity; dealing with living things means that what you are working with is constantly changing - even if the participant is limited in the involvement they can offer.
  • It offers “meaningful” and “creative” activities to people who have had their capacity to be creative, or have meaning in life reduced.
  • It can be used to exercise and strengthen muscles in any part of the body. A skilled physiotherapist can prescribe horticultural activities that may be used to reactivate and strengthen damaged tissues, improve mobility and to slow down deterioration caused through degenerative disease.
  • Gardens connect us with nature and others; it can give us a sense of purpose and achievement, lessen feelings of isolation, improve our attitudes to others and engender a feeling of community inclusion. All this improves our mental health.
  • It can help engender team building skills in the chronically unemployed (of any age) or for disengaged, disaffected or underprivileged youth. The skills that they learn in a gardening program can be transferred to other areas of life; learning new skills that require nurturing and day to day caretaking can enhance self-esteem, build trust (in a team setting), encourage feelings of self-worth and open up employment opportunities. It can also provide participants with a feeling of ownership, particularly when participating in a community based program such as the establishment of public spaces e.g. public parks or gardens. This is beneficial for the community as a whole, as public spaces that have been implemented through community jobs (or other type of program), instil a feeling of community pride in participants who otherwise may not have been socially engaged – they (the public spaces) are subsequently less likely to suffer from vandalism too.
  • It can promote intergenerational communication and activities i.e. programs that include both the elderly and children.
  • It can promote intercommunication with people from varied ethnic and cultural backgrounds (and from both genders); communication enhances cultural awareness, encourages empathy for others and creates friendships.


There are many benefits to be gained from horticultural therapy. These benefits are both physical and psychological.

General Benefits

  • People of any age can participate in horticultural therapy.
  • The horticultural therapist can individualise the work they do with a person, according to their abilities, so activities in horticultural therapy should be accessible for all.
  • For example, work areas can be made more accessible for people who have difficulties with their back or bending, so that they do not have to bend over work areas. Work areas can be lowered so people in wheelchairs can use them. They can also be lowered so that children can work on benches and so on.
  • The location where horticultural therapy is carried out can also be individualised. For example, the area could be controlled so that children or vulnerable adults do not have access to dangerous plants or put plants in their mouths. Gardens can be made accessible for people with wheelchairs, mobility problems, sight difficulties and so on.

Physical Benefits

Horticultural therapy can help people to -

  • Improve their fine motor skills. We have fine and gross motor skills Gross motor skills involve our larger muscle groups, such as when we dig, run or jump. Fine motor skills involve the use of our smaller bones and muscles, as we would in handling secateurs, sowing seeds, writing and so on.
  • Increase muscular strength and muscle tone – being involved in gardening can help a person to increase their muscular strength. Even if they are not able to use some of their muscles, for example, if they are unable to use their legs, it can increase their muscle strength and tone in other areas, such as their arms, shoulders etc.
  • Increase range of motion – Having to move around, dig, prune, sowing and so on can help increase the range of motion a person has.
  • Improve coordination and balance – Being involved in gardening and horticultural therapy can help a person to improve their coordination and balance. Imagine digging, this requires the use of arms and legs, so requires a good range of coordination and balance. If a person cannot use their legs or arms, then the limbs that they do use will require increased strength and tone and also balance and coordination.Therefore, horticultural therapy can increase a person’s physical health.

Psychological Benefits

Horticultural therapy also has psychological benefits:

  • It can help increase a person’s self esteem. For example, a person who does not feel they are good at things, perhaps they have disabilities or learning disabilities, being able to be involved in gardening and horticulture, and do it well, can increase their self esteem.
  • It can help increase their independence – It can help a person to learn new tasks, to work on their own, to learn more about plants and gardening. It can also help with their independence if they are able to transfer these skills to other environments and their own home. For example, growing plants and vegetables in their own home.
  • It can also increase the observation skills a person uses. They have to become aware of how plants grow, how seeds should be planted and so on.
  • Horticultural therapy can also allow a person to make choices. With some psychological conditions, such as some learning disabilities, a person may not have very much control over their own life, so being involved in horticultural therapy enables them to make choices and state their independence more than they have possibly in the past.
  • Horticultural therapy can increase a person’s problem solving skills – when to plant certain crops, how, how deep, what type of soil, what do they do in less than ideal situations and so on? It can also help them to consider more about their own abilities. People can show great initiative. What if they find digging hard? Or planting seeds hard? The person and the horticultural therapist can look at ways in which they can become more involved, so aiding their problem solving skills also.
  • It can also increase a person’s creativity, help them to think of how they do things, how they plant a garden, where is the best place to plant a particular flower, what would look best and so on.
  • Gardening and horticulture can also be a place where a person can let out their emotions or stress or anger.   Exercise can be a good release of anger and emotion and there is obviously exercise involved in gardening. Also, thinking about the plants and soil and what you are doing can be a good distraction from a stressful situation.
  • Horticultural therapy can also have social benefits, allowing the person to interact socially with others, which can also increase their self esteem, social skills and speech and language skills.
  • By showing a commitment to living things, a person is taking responsibility for that work, that garden and also to working with others as part of a team or group.
  • It can also help a person to deal with success and failure. A person may have many failures in their life, but gardening can help them to find ways to overcome failures. Because a plant does not flower one year or a vegetable crop does not grow as well as planned, this can be used to help the person to look at what they did (problem solving again) and how things could be improved. Was it the wrong soil? The wrong location? Was the weather too cold for the plants to survive? What could they do about that?
  • It enables a person to commune with nature and to feel the benefits of doing so.
  • It also allows the person to be inspired by others, to learn more about nature and their environment.

How This Course Could Help You

Although still in its infancy, the field of horticulture therapy is one which is growing and likely to become a mainstay in in the near future. Horticulture therapy benefits people in different situations such as those with mental health issues, the intellectually disabled, people recovering from surgery, the aged and the incarcerated. There is always some sort of program which can be devised to help these people whether to improve mobility, confidence or general well-being. The course will appeal to those with an interest in both the practical side of offering garden therapy and the therapeutic side. People who take this course are likely to be involved in:

  • Horticulture therapy
  • Garden design
  • Landscape gardening
  • Occupational therapy
  • Psychotherapy & counselling
  • Alternative therapy

Start Your Journey to Helping Others Benefit from Gardening Activities

You can enrol on Horticultural Therapy at any time. You study by distance learning, and so can fit your studies around other existing commitments. You are supported in your studies by our expert tutors, who are on-hand to assist and guide you in your learning.

If you have any questions, or want to know more about studying with ACS, you can call us today on (UK) 01384 442752 or (International) +44 (0) 1384 442752.

Or, submit your questions to our highly knowledgeable Horticulture tutors, they will be pleased to hear from you.

Courses can be started anytime from anywhere in the world!

Meet some of our academics

Rosemary Davies (Horticulturist)A graduate of Burnley Horticultural College; Rosemary has over 30 years of experience in horticulture. Her training was extensive covering both amenity and production horticulture; developing pactical skills and a deep understanding of the sciences that underpin horticulture. She worked with the Agriculture Dept in Victoria as a consultant or advisor to both farmers and home gardeners. Over the years, her experience has been as broad as her training, working on radio with ABC radio, a garden editor (with several major publications) and as a teacher, writer, garden designer and consultant. Rosemary has led several garden tours to the UK and Europe. In 1999 Rosemary was BPW Bendigo Business Woman of the Year and is one of the founders and the Patron, of the Friends of the Bendigo Botanic gardens. She has written six gardening books and collaborated on many others. Rosemary brings a unique personality, knowledge base and passion to the school; an an infectious love of horticulture in support of our students. She holds a B.Sc Hort,, Dip.Hort.Sc., Dip. Advertising & Marketing and B.Ed.
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.
Dr. Lynette MorganBroad expertise in horticulture and crop production. 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.

Check out our eBooks

Scented PlantsScented plants can be either a delight or a curse. For many people, there is nothing more pleasing than a garden filled with fragrance, but for others who suffer allergies, certain plants can make them physically ill; sometimes very seriously.
Starting a Garden or Landscape BusinessExpert advice on how to get started in your own garden or landscape business! Packed with valuable business advice, horticultural and landscaping knowledge, and practical ideas - this book is a must have for garden lovers. It is great for anyone thinking about (or already involved in), a horticultural, landscaping or garden business. This updated re-print is only available as an ebook.
Starting a Nursery or Herb FarmIt's often amazing how much can be produced, and the profit that can be made from a few hundred square meters of land. To work efficiently and profitably, a nursery or herb farm must be both well organised and properly managed. As with any business, it is essential to be confident enough to make firm decisions as and when needed. This e-book is your ticket to a fragrant future.
Commercial HydroponicsThe Commercial Hydroponics ebook is ideal for students, professional horticulturalists and those who want to build a strong foundation knowledge in hydroponics. The commercial hydroponics ebook explains how to set up a commercial hydroponics system, including growing techniques and equipment that you will need. The topics covered in this book include an introduction to hydroponics, site considerations, alternatives, plant nutrition, nutrient film technique culture, rockwool culture, aggregate culture, other techniques, hydroponics equipment, greenhouse operation, plant culture in hydroponics, Vegetable crops, berry and other fruit crops, flower crops, other crops, managing a commercial hydroponic farm and a troubleshooting guide.