Garden Centre Management

Course CodeBHT213
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Learn how to manage a successful Garden Centre!

This course has been very successful in training both staff and managers of retail nurseries and garden centres. Originally designed in 1986, in conjunction with the State Garden Department Manager of a major retail chain store; revised many times since then to keep up with current standards. It is useful for establishing standards in your garden centre and giving direction for the staff and managers.

“Here we have an incredibly informative course for anyone seeking to improve their ability to run or manage a garden centre. All aspects of indoor and outdoor plant care are discussed as well as stock selection and optimal plant display techniques. Graduates will also enhance their knowledge of typical garden centre products, marketing strategies, and how to get the most out of their staff.” - Gavin Cole B.Sc., Psych.Cert., Cert.Garden Design, MACA, ACS Tutor.

This is an example of what you will do in the course:

  • Undertake simple and relevant practical tasks.
  • Submit written assignments at the completion of each lesson.
  • Prepare 72 plant review worksheets.
  • Research and analyse the operation of garden centres and nurseries.

You can commence the course when it suits you and work through it at your own pace.

Lesson Structure

There are 12 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction: Plant classification, plant cultural requirements, soil and nutrition, watering requirements, drainage, temperature, light, humidity
  2. Plant Health: How to diagnose a problem, pests, diseases, nutrient deficiencies, frost, sunburn, chemical damage, insufficient light, over-watering
  3. Stock Maintenance: Quality standards, buying new stock, inspecting stock, extending stock life, disposing of below-standard stock, watering techniques, fertilising, pest and disease control
  4. Display and Display Techniques: Display units, product location, sales area layout
  5. Garden Product Knowledge I: Plant containers, tags, soil mixes, equipment, tools
  6. Garden Product Knowledge II: Chemicals, fertilisers, baskets, terrariums, cut flowers
  7. Indoor Plants: Major groups, common problems, plants for specific situations, customer attitudes
  8. Container Stock: Trees and Shrubs
  9. Seedlings, Bulbs, Herbs and Perennials
  10. Other Plant Stock
    • A. Deciduous Trees, Fruit, Nuts, Berries
    • B. Seed
  11. Marketing: Pricing strategy, advertising, promotions
  12. Management: Staff control, staff productivity, work scheduling

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.


  • Classify and identify a range of different plants, according to their botanical characteristics.
  • Describe a range of plant health problems and their treatments.
  • Understand the importance of maintaining healthy stock and its relationship to maintaining a profitable business.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of a range of garden products sold through garden centres.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of a range of plants, including indoor plants, container-grown plants, deciduous plants, bulbs, herbs and perennials.
  • Describe effective marketing techniques.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of management procedures.


What is a Promotion?
A promotion is an activity which produces a change in your customers' behaviour, resulting in extra sales.

How Does It Work?
Firstly, every brand has a price or value understood by customers. A promotion offers extra value or a lower price to the customer.

Secondly, a promotion demands urgency from your customer because of its short availability time ("whilst stocks last").

An attractive product display with a message is often an effective way of increasing sales, but it is NOT a promotion. It should really be called a "display feature: because it does not have the vital ingredient of Added Value.

There are several different levels of promotional strategies:

  • Full Promotion: all sections at full margin plus a planned and sustained program of promotions.
  • Lightweight Promotions: all sections at full margin plus occasional loss leader promotions.
  • Partial Discount plus "Highlights": certain sections at cut price plus occasional loss leader promotion.
  • Partial Discount: certain sections at low price, other items at full price.

Your strategy will depend on:

  • Location: are your customers local, or do you need to attract them from a wider area?
  • Competitors: what can you offer compared with them?
  • Your shop: in particular, its layout and capacity for extra promotional sales.
  • Limitation: If normal marketing and advertising have failed to establish the true value of a product, a promotion will not be successful because there is no comparative standard. Within a store, promotions can only work well if the basic merchandising job has been done properly. They are not substitutes for product range, siting and space allocation with well controlled displays.

The Basic Rules of Promotions

  • Your reason for promoting is to sell more products to your customers as quickly as possible. Specials should be regularly changed. To do this, the offer should appeal to their immediate or secondary needs.
  • The choice of promotion depends on what you want to achieve ie. if you want more people in your garden centre, special locally advertised offers or personality backed promotions could be very useful.
  • Your promotion should be unique to attract maximum attention.
  • The promotion should be simple to understand and operate.
  •  The promotion must represent value for money and be credible and honest.
  • The promotion should be consistent with your own image.
How To Choose A Promotion
Consider the following:
  • Who are the main users of the product or brand?
  • How, when and why do they use the product?
  • How frequently is it purchased?
  • What are its main competitors?
  • How does the customer see the brand versus the competition?
Use the facts to decide how to run the promotion:
  • Determine, in order of priority, the key problem.
  • Identify the money available.
  • List and cost all the possible alternative options that are open (e.g. more advertising, customer promotions, pricing strategy).
  • Having estimated the cost, ask yourself what will the benefit be to you.

Extra Books or Reference Materials

  • The course provides you with everything that you need to complete it successfully.
  • Assignments may ask you to look for extra information (e.g. by contacting nurseries, visiting gardens or searching the internet), but our school's resources and tutors are always available as a back up. If you hit a "roadblock", we can quickly send you additional information or provide expert advice over the phone or email; to keep you moving in your studies.
  • Some students choose to buy additional references, to take their learning beyond what is essential for the course. If a student wants to buy books, we operate an online bookshop offering eBooks written by staff at the school. Student discounts are available if you are studying with us. The range of eBooks available is being expanded rapidly, with at least one new eBook being written and published by our staff every month.
  • See  for eBooks (available in Pounds Stirling). We also sell books through our Australian bookshop (selling in Australian dollars) at

More from ACS