Certificate in Horticulture (Turf)

Course CodeVHT002
Fee CodeCT
Duration (approx)700 hours

Study, Learn and Work in Greenkeeping and Turf Care

Become an Expert Turf Manager.

The turf industry is a huge sector within horticulture. It employs people as greenkeepers, curators and superintendents; seed and machinery suppliers, consultants and much more. It's not without it's critics; nevertheless, golf courses, sports grounds and even home lawns are very important contributors to the overall environmental quality of urban areas. Consider the purpose for growing turf:

  1. Functional turf is used to control soil erosion, reduce dust and mud problems, reduce glare, noise, air pollution and buffer temperature fluctuations. Turf along a roadside or surrounding a factory are examples of functional turf.
  2. Recreational turf is used for sporting activities, such as bowling greens, golf courses and football grounds, and other outdoor recreational activities such as surfacing a children's playground or picnic area.
  3. Ornamental turf is primarily intended as a decoration, for example the front lawn of a home or office building or high quality grassed areas in public parklands.


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Certificate in Horticulture (Turf).
 Horticulture I BHT101
 Machinery and Equipment BSC105
 Turf Care BHT104
 Irrigation - Gardens BHT210
 Sports Turf Management BHT202
 Turf Repair And Renovation BHT303

Note that each module in the Certificate in Horticulture (Turf) is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.

The course is divided into two parts, and involves completing all assignments and passing an exam in each of six subjects as listed below.

Part I

  • Horticulture I
  • Turf Care
  • Machinery and Equipment

Part 2

  • Sports Turf Management
  • Turf Repair and Renovation
  • Irrigation (Gardens)

Note: Course fee does not include exam fees (x 4).



Horticulture I

  1. Plant Identification
  2. Planting
  3. Introduction to Soils
  4. Introduction to Nutrition
  5. Introduction to Water Management
  6. Pruning
  7. Weeds
  8. Foundations of Pests and Diseases
  9. Landscaping
  10. Plant Propagation
  11. Introduction to Lawns
  12. Arboriculture


Turf Care

  1. Introduction - Turf Varieties
  2. Turf Grass Physiology
  3. Turf Establishment
  4. Soils
  5. Turf Weed Problems
  6. Turf Pests and Diseases
  7. Turf Maintenance Techniques
  8. Irrigation - An Overview
  9. Playing Fields & Bowling Greens
  10. Managing Established Turf
  11. Establishing Ornamental Turf


Machinery and Equipment

  1. Engine Operation
  2. Hydraulics
  3. Machinery Components
  4. Hand Tools
  5. Power Tools
  6. Tractors
  7. Equipment Maintenance
  8. Specific Workplace Requirements


Sports Turf Management

  1. Turf Variety Selection
  2. Mowing - selection, use and maintenance of equipment.
  3. Cultivation Techniques -spiking, coring, thatch removal and other techniques.
  4. Preparing for Play on Sports grounds - rolling, marking, etc.
  5. Preparing for Play of Greens - rolling, marking, etc.
  6. Turf Protection & Preservation
  7. Irrigation and Drainage
  8. Soil Treatment & Sprays - pesticides, fertilisers, etc.
  9. Evaluate Maintenance Facilities
  10. Develop a Management Plan.


Turf Repair and Renovation

  1. Understanding Turf Deterioration - physiological and biological responses.
  2. Repair & Renovation Equipment - use and repair of applicable equipment.
  3. Turf Cultivation Techniques
  4. Health Improvement Techniques -pest control, feeding, watering, etc.
  5. Optimising Turf Usage
  6. Replacing Damaged Turf - techniques for replacement.
  7. Renovation of Degraded Turf - techniques to repair and renovated turf.
  8. Eradicating Turf Weeds
  9. Treating Aeration and Drainage Problems - compaction, etc.
  10. Managing a Turf Nursery.



  1. Introduction to Irrigation
  2. Soil Characteristics & Problems
  3. Estimating Plant Needs & Irrigation Scheduling
  4. Drainage
  5. Types of Irrigation Systems
  6. Trickle Systems
  7. Design Specifications
  8. Pumps & Filters
  9. Selecting the Right System for a Plant
  10. Design and Operation of Systems.
Start by Getting to Know Grasses
Turf management involves more than just grasses; but the most common turf species are grasses. Knowing the taxonomy (ie. identification), botany and culture of grasses is thus, the foundation for good turf management. Not all grasses are appropriate to use for turf though.
The grass family (Poaceae or Gramineae - the older family name) is a diverse family ranging from small ground cover specimens to large plants the size of sugar cane. Depending upon which expert opinion you follow, there are around 700 genera, and 7,000 species of grasses; including over 1,000 that are bamboos; Bamboos belong to a sub family of grasses called: “Bambusoideae”.
Grasses may grow as independent plants or spread like lawn grass. Many grasses are valued for ornamental purposes while others more importantly are used for turf.
Identification of grasses itself has caused quite a few arguments. They do not have a flower structure typical of most flowering plants, their leaves have characteristics that no other plants have, and there are features of a leaf that can indicate it to be different for its cousin.
Once the basics of identification are understood, the process of deduction or use of a key becomes much easier. This is discussed in more detail later this chapter. 
Typical Grass Structure
A lawn or paddock of grass may consist of one, or several species of identifiable grasses. Over time the grass have tillered and spread by stolon or rhizome to become tightly interwoven. The independent plant of a grass has several basic characteristics.
When it germinates the seed has one cotyledon (or one first leaf) and the mature leaves have parallel veins both of which indicate it is scientifically referred to as a monocotyledon.

As it grows, one can see that it has a stem that bears leaves and a flower head, all of which is known as the ‘culm’. Beneath the culm is the fibrous root system.

Grasses most commonly grow erect/upright, forming clumps. They spread by any of the following three methods:
  1. Tillering: this is where as a result of a compressed stem, a new plant is produced at the base of the present culm. In time this gives the grass a tufted appearance. The number of tillers produced is governed by the genetic characteristics and environment conditions.
  2. Stolons: this is where stems are sent above the ground to reproduce a "daughter" plant nearby. Genetically it is the same as the parent. At nodes along the stolon that come in contact with the ground, adventitious roots are produced giving rise to a new plant. 
  3. Rhizomes: these are stems which bare scale like leaves and grow below the ground, sprouting occasionally through the surface to produce new plants.
Growing a Lawn
When establishing a lawn and planning which species of grasses to use, it is important to understand the advantages and disadvantages of different grasses and why certain grass species are used in preference to others. 
The intended or actual use, the maintenance, watering requirements and the aspect (sun or shade or part shade) of a particular area, are the deciding factors. Grass species are therefore chosen to suit sun, shade or in between. Some need a lot of water but other species of lawn mixes need far less. Some need a lot of mowing others less - for example bent grasses and fescues (such as Chewings and Creeping Red) can withstand lower mowing than other grasses.  
The bent grass strains known as Penncross and Palustris are both stoloniferous (spreading from stolons rather than clumping) and tend to become spongy with age.  If these bent species are used alone or with fescues in a lawn, bowling green or golf green, annual scarifying, preening and coring is essential for their maintenance. In a park or sports oval these varieties of bent tend to colonise and form patches choking out all other grasses giving a very patchy appearance.
For a domestic lawn, the species you choose will also depend on use. If you are going to use an area for children and animals to play on, then a tough lawn will be needed. Many cultivars are now available, for example couch grass cultivars ‘Sir Walter’ or ‘Santa Ana’ are both tough and reliable creeping grasses fit for that purpose – bought as turf rather than seeds. If you want to establish a fine lawn that can withstand lower mowing then you might choose Tall Fescue – this cultivar can be purchased as turf but also as seed. 

Eleven Rules for Sowing Grass Seed:

  1. Before starting, clear rubbish and weeds from the area. It is most important to remove all traces of plaster or cement from sites of recently built houses. If weeds are a major problem it may be necessary to cover the area with impermeable matting such as black plastic to suffocate and scorch the weeds for several months prior to seeding.
  2. Mould the ground to achieve levels close to the way you want the final lawn to be. It is important that there is a slope of at least 1 in 100 across the area to provide surface drainage. You might need to hire a bobcat or other machine to help at this stage.
  3. Get the soil consistency right. The soil needs to be friable, that is loose, fertile and freely draining, especially in the top few inches. You may need to install drainage pipes in heavy clay soils. Good soil may be brought in and spread over the surface, or you might dig compost into the existing soil. An excellent treatment for most soils is to rotary hoe composted fine pine bark and manure into the existing soil. You will need a thickness of 2.5cm of manure and 7.5 cm of pine bark mixed to a depth of 12.5 15cm in the existing soil.
  4. Level the area. Use a long piece of timber, for instance a 2 3 metre length of 50 X 25mm hardwood.
  5. This will give a better finish than a small rake.
  6. Sow the lawn seed mix blended with lawn starter fertilizer. You need 1 part lawn seed to 1 part fertilizer. For most seed types you will sow about 1 loose handful of the seed and starter mix to every square metre, or according to directions provided by your lawn seed supplier.
  7. Lightly rake over the area to work the seed into the soil surface.
  8. Water thoroughly, being careful not to wash the seed away.
  9. Water frequently until the seed germinates and becomes established. NEVER allow the soil to dry out over the first 3 weeks. You may need to water several times each day. Ensure that the soil is kept moist, but not soggy.
  10. If there is any likelihood of dogs, cats or birds, and so on causing damage, use some method of control such as fencing, strings criss-crossing over the surface, use of a dog or cat repellent.
  11. Cut the grass high by raising your lawn mower blades as high as possible, for the first few cuts.
Opportunities for Graduates
The big employment opportunities in the turf industry are:
1. Working for sporting facilities or parks, in the care and management of sports grounds or other turf surfaces Golf Courses, Bowling Clubs and league football clubs will employ a superintendent, curator or manager, together with a team of greenkeepers, gardeners and others to look after their turf and surrounding horticultural assets. Good managers with a high level of knowledge and skill will always be in demand, as long as these sports are popular.
2.  Support Industries -These are the businesses that supply lawn seed, mowers and other turf equipment, fertiliser, irrigation equipment, and instant turf (sod).
3. Lawn Service Businesses -these include small business operators who mow and renovate lawns.
Lawn Mowing Services
  • Normally done on a weekly or fortnightly basis in the active growing seasons – less often in winter.
  • May include trimming edges on each cut, on every second or third cut, or not at all.
  • May be a 'quality cut' service, for top quality lawns using top-quality cylinder mowers.
  • May be a basic cutting service using a standard rotary-type mower.
  • You may or may not be required to remove lawn clippings from the site.




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