Garden Centre Management

Course CodeBHT255
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.
  • 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. Plant Identification
    • Introduction
    • Horticulture – A Variable Science
    • Plant Names
    • Botanical Families of Genera
    • The Lower Plants
    • Soils And Nutrition
    • Naming The Soil
    • Improving Soils
    • Types Of Nurseries
    • Retail Nurseries and Garden Centres
  2. Plant Health
    • Nutrition And Fertilisers
    • Indicators Of Common Deficiency and Toxicity
    • Integrated Pest Management
    • Understanding Chemical Pesticides (Always Read the Label Thoroughly)
    • What To Look For
    • Summary Of Chemicals
    • A Review of Chemicals
    • Pest And Diseases
    • Diseases
    • Plant Viruses - Their Detection and Diagnosis
    • Pests
  3. Stock Maintenance and Quality Control
    • Managing Plants in Retail Nurseries
    • Plant Breeders’ Rights and Trademarks
    • Holding Stock
    • Clearing Surplus Stock
    • Quarantine Issues When Selecting Stock
    • How To Conduct a Plant Inspection
    • Environmental Problems
    • Common Environmental Problems
    • Watering
    • Maintaining Appropriate Water Levels
    • Nursery Irrigation
    • Automatic Systems
    • Pruning
    • Exercise: Nursery Inspection Sheet
    • Nursery Inspection Sheet
  4. Display and Display Techniques
    • Introduction
    • Designing Facilities in The Nursery
    • Fixtures and Fittings
    • Layout
    • Signs
    • Plant Signs
    • Administrative Offices
    • Circulation and Parking
    • Employee Facilities
    • Public Areas
    • Play Areas
    • Landscaping
    • Equipment Storage
    • Chemical Storage
    • Drainage Network
    • Display
    • Spacing
    • Shop Layout
    • Fixtures And Fittings
    • Layout
    • Service Area
    • Signs
    • Merchandising
    • Principles To Follow When Buying
    • Selling
    • Stock Control
    • Stock For a Retail Florist
  5. Garden Product Knowledge I
    • Plant Containers
    • Problems With Containers
    • Soil Mixes
    • How To Maintain Plants in Pots
    • Types of Pots
    • Advising Customers Where to Place Pot Plants in a Home Garden
    • Plants For Pots
    • Plant Labels
    • Watering Equipment
    • Tools and Equipment
  6. Garden Product Knowledge II
    • Basket Plants
    • Miniature Gardens
    • Terrariums
    • Bonsai
    • Types Of Fertilisers
    • Choosing The Right Fertiliser
    • Applying Fertilisers
    • How Much to Apply?
    • Law
    • Chemical Labels
    • Pesticide Chemicals Outlined
    • Herbicides Outlined
    • Keeping Records
    • Oxidation
    • Chlorination
    • Fluoridation
    • Ultraviolet Light
    • Micro-Filtration
    • Slow Sand Filtration
    • Reed Beds
  7. Indoor Plants
    • Introduction
    • Indoor Plants
    • Reasons Indoor Plants Die
    • Over-Watering Indoor Plants
    • Potting Indoor Plants
    • Bonsai Styles
    • Cultural Requirements for Palms
    • Palm Genera Suited to Growing Indoors
    • Some of the Best Palm Species Suitable as Indoor Plants
    • Getting to Know Your Ferns
    • Ferns As Indoor Plants
    • Other Commonly Grown Foliage Plants
  8. Container Stock
    • Rhododendrons And Azaleas
    • Azaleas
    • Ferns
    • Roses
    • Herbs
    • Lavender
    • Planting
  9. Seedlings, Bulbs, Herbs and Perennials
    • Some Of the More Popular Annuals
    • Bulbs And Other Storage Organ Plants
    • Perennials
    • Popular Perennials
    • Artemisia Family: Asteraceae (Syn. Compositae)
    • Some Evergreen Perennials
    • Scented Garden Plants
    • Ornamental Grasses for Year-Round Effect
    • Cultivation Of Herbs
    • Poisonous Plants
  10. Deciduous Trees, Fruit, Nuts and Berries
    • Introduction
    • Nut Growing
    • Vines
    • Citrus
    • Berry Fruit
    • Hybrid Seed
    • Turf Seed Varieties and Mixes
  11. Marketing
    • Marketing Retail Nurseries
    • The Marketing Mix
    • Products And Services
    • Sales Technique
    • After Sales Service
    • Merchandising Suggestions for Successful Promotions
    • Merchandising Suggestions
    • Promotions And Customer Relations
    • Promotions And Advertising
    • Customer Relations
    • Legal Implications of Marketing
    • Deciding On the Type of Business
  12. Management
    • Introduction
    • Example Of a Business Plan
    • Work Scheduling
    • Recruitment And Motivating Employees
    • Training Staff
    • Styles Of Supervision
    • Giving Directives and Introducing Change
    • Employee Productivity


  • 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.


The course will appeal to people working in, or planning to work in, the following areas:

  • Garden centre
  • Retail nursery
  • Garden shop
  • Parks & gardens
  • Wholesale nursery

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