Amenity Horticulture I

Course CodeBHT234
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment
Amenity horticulture is concerned with using horticulture to create environments or facilities that are useful to man.
These include public spaces  (e.g. parks and sports grounds), commercial places (industrial estates and shopping centres), natural landscapes, home gardens, indoor environments and other spaces.  It does not include areas of horticulture that are primarily undertaken to produce a crop or product (such as fruit and vegetable growing or plant nursery production).

Lesson Structure

There are 7 lessons in this course:

  1. Nature and Scope of the Amenity Horticulture Industry
    • What is amenity horticulture
    • Arboriculture
    • Landscape industries
    • Parks and gardens
    • Nurseries
    • Turf management
    • Interior plantscaping
    • Floriculture
  2. Global Variations: Nature and Scope of the Amenity Horticulture Industry in Different Countries
    • The changing nature of amenity horticulture
    • PBL project to create and present a plan that identifies and compares global variations in the amenity horticulture industry.
  3. Benefits of Amenity Horticulture
    • Amenity horticulture and society
    • Aesthetic value
    • Health benefits
    • Benefits of gardening
    • Horticultural therapy
    • Kitchen garden programs
    • Community gardens
    • Recreational benefits of public open space
    • Economic benefits
    • Nature based tourism
    • Private land use for recreation
    • Environmental benefits
  4. Amenity Horticulture Management Options
    • Management of amenity sites
    • Management processes: planning, organising controlling, leading, etc
    • The organisational structure
    • Managing natural environments
    • Good and bad management decisions
  5. Influences
    • Legal concerns for amenity horticulture
    • Legal and illegal plants
    • Law and money
    • Land ownership
    • Land planning and planning processes
    • Central place theory
    • Psycho social considerations
    • Environmental concerns
  6. Determining Best Practice
    • Best practice management
    • How is best practice determined
    • Quality systems
    • Managing finance
    • User pays pricing
    • Budgets
    • Managing physical resources
    • Staff management
    • Teams based management
    • Managing workplace safety
    • Risk control
  7. Preparing for the Future
    • Future of Amenity horticulture
    • Ecologically sustainable development
    • PBL project to identify the current impacts on the environment of amenity horticulture operations in your area and suggest ways that ESD will impact on those operations and on the community in the short and long term.

Amenity horticulture used to employ a lot of unskilled manual labourers; and sometimes still suffers from the stigma of that past. In truth though, the industry today is far more sophisticated, harnessing technological developments and organisational skills to allow fewer, but more highly skilled people, to do jobs with only a fraction of the labour that was once needed.

While it may be possible to estimate both the outlay and the returns associated with production horticulture enterprises, the benefits that amenity horticulture brings to our society are immeasurable. Plants, gardens and well-planned public spaces bring diverse and extremely important benefits to the environment and to the community.

The benefits of amenity horticulture can be broadly classified as social/personal, economic and environmental:

  • Social/Personal, including:
    o Aesthetic improvement to landscapes
    o Health-related benefits – physical health, social health, mental health
  • Economic
    o Private land that is used for profit
    o Public land recovered for public use
  • Environmental
    o Pollution reduction: noise, dust
    o Habitat, plant and animal life conservation
    o Genetic diversity conservation
    o Land recovery

The most obvious benefit from growing ornamental plants and creating attractive outdoor spaces is the aesthetic improvement to the landscape. Trees, lawns and gardens provide a welcome visual relief from buildings, roads and other artificial, hard-edged materials. While many city buildings and manmade structures are undeniably impressive, most people would agree that cityscapes that feature lots of plants and parks are far more pleasing to look at than buildings alone. Plants distract our attention from unattractive objects and hide unwelcome views. Street trees, city parks and private gardens are essential elements of any aesthetically-pleasing urban landscape.

Other aesthetic benefits of green landscapes are an enhanced sense of character and community identity. Most ‘desirable’ towns and suburbs have high quality and distinctive streetscapes; for example, tree-lined footpaths and quality public landscaping amenities in parks and town centres such as heritage street lights and public seating. Not only do these well-heeled landscapes appeal to the eye (and attract higher real estate values), they are less likely to be vandalised. Studies have also shown that residents living in attractive, green neighbourhoods experience lower levels of fear, aggression and crime.

Plants and gardens, of course, are not just good to look at. Amenity horticulture has many other far-reaching benefits.

The first city parks were developed in the 19th century as an antidote to health and social problems. As the industrial revolution drew ever-increasing numbers of people to the cities and created massive amounts of pollution from coal-fired factories, parks were the ‘green lungs’ of cities. Parks were thought to be essential for counteracting the effects of smog, improving the health and vigour of citizens, and extending their life expectancy. In addition, parks were seen to have a social role: by reconnecting with nature, ‘tensions’ would be relieved and crime and other social problems would be reduced.

Nature-based activities are diverse, ranging from non-demanding pursuits such as bird watching, visiting zoos and gardens, strolling in parks and picnicking, to more vigorous outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, canoeing and rock climbing.

Amenity horticulture can encompass the provision of facilities for a wide range of nature-based activities. Nature-based activities are often, but not always, associated with a holiday. They can also be day activities (e.g. a picnic, or swimming at a beach, lake or river).

Other benefits from tourism to local amenity horticulture industries include:

  • Landscaping of new facilities; for example, around airports, shopping centres and tourist sites
  • Increase in the interchange of scientific knowledge
  • Commercial benefits like more hotels, increased employment, thriving shopping areas, more profit to local growers and food producers, and
  • Building, renovation and embellishment of public and private infrastructure

However, the tourism industry has also meant that created and natural habitats have been negatively impacted. Impacts to local areas often include:

  • Over-development
  • Loss of habitat for plants, animals and other biotic and non-biotic components
  • Erosion from cleared land and even footpath erosion caused by thousands of visitors walking throughout the natural areas, as in the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District Natural Parks in the UK, or from too many divers visiting marine parks (e.g. Medas Islands, Spain; Great Barrier Reef in Australia)
  • Vandalism and increased environmental pollution caused by poor quality tourism (mass tourism)


An emerging and highly significant trend in amenity horticulture is an awareness of the environmental benefits of growing and caring for plants. Some of the most important environmental benefits are:

  • Noise reduction
  • Pollution reduction
  • Temperature amelioration
  • Oxygen enrichment
  • Dust reduction
  • Creation/preservation of habitats for animal and plant conservation
  • Land rehabilitation – salinity, erosion, runoff controls
  • Land preservation
  • Genetic diversity
  • Gene preservation
  • Soil preservation
  • Enhancement of people’s connection with nature
  • Enhancement of people’s understanding of natural processes

Plants are a fundamental life source – providing food, habitat, fuel and oxygen, and contributing to ecosystem stability. All amenity horticulturists need to be aware of and understand how plants are integral to these life-sustaining processes.

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