Qualification - Certificate in Arboriculture

Course CodeVHT090
Fee CodeCT
Duration (approx)600 hours

Would you like to work with trees?

This certificate focuses on the culture and care of trees, providing a sound foundation for any working or hoping to work with tree establishment or maintenance. Unlike many other courses in arboriculture, this course also provides a broad foundation across all aspects of horticulture.

Arboriculture activities include the maintenance and care of trees and large shrubs in private gardens, public parks, reserves, bushland reserves, recreational areas, industrial complexes, housing estates and institutions.

Opportunities in this growing industry include:

  • employment in private specialist contracting businesses,
  • self-employment,
  • local and state government positions. 


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Qualification - Certificate in Arboriculture.
 Arboriculture I BHT106
 Horticulture I BHT101
 Arboriculture II BHT208
 Trees For Rehabilitation (Reforestation) BHT205
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 2 of the following 8 modules.
 Eucalypts VHT117
 Machinery and Equipment BSC105
 Native Australian Trees VHT115
 Plant Selection And Establishment BHT107
 Amenity Horticulture I BHT234
 Amenity Horticulture II BHT235
 Deciduous Trees BHT224
 Plant Protection BHT207

Note that each module in the Qualification - Certificate in Arboriculture is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.

Selected Module Outlines

Module 1 Horticulture l

This module provides a broad foundation in horticulture, with a particularly strong focus on plant identification. You develop a sound broad technical grounding in horticultural principles and practices, including: Identification and culture for 80 different types of plants, The systematic way plants are classified; Structure and parts of a flower, leaf shapes; Different ways to control weeds; Simple soil tests; Plant nutrition; Soil types Identifying pest and disease problems; How and why to prune different plants, Garden design, etc.

Module 2 Arboriculture 1

This module develops your skills and understanding in diagnosis and treatment of tree disorders, whether pests, diseases, nutritional or water problems, or something else. You learn about the standard tree surgery practices, to prune and train both young and established trees, and safety measures to follow.

Module 3 Trees for Rehabilitation

This module develops an understanding of environmental systems and the rehabilitation of degraded landscapes. You learn about seed collection, storage and germination, propagation, plant selection, establishment techniques, controlling pest & disease after planting.

Part 2: Module 4 Arboriculture ll

This builds on Arboriculture I. It develops your ability to manage trees beyond Arboriculture I, in order to minimize potential long term tree problems. Learn about better tree selection, strengthening and improving health of existing trees, and techniques used to better remove trees and stumps that must be removed.

Module 5 Plant Selection and Establishment

This develops a firm basis for the selection, establishment and maintenance of a wide range of commonly used garden plants; woody trees and shrubs, hedges and screening plants, alpines, water plants, turf varieties, herbaceous plants etc)

Module 6 Plant Protection

Learn to identify diseases, insects & weeds; and to select and use appropriate treatments. Control techniques and safety are both covered in detail.All assignments must be completed and exams passed in the six modules listed above.

Duration: 600 hours (approximately)
What Can Go Wrong With a Tree?
Health problems often go unnoticed with trees; perhaps because it is "out of sight, out of mind!"
Lower plants are at or below eye level, so they get noticed; but all too often, diseased or damaged tree leaves and stems are so high above your heads, that they remain unseen until the problem becomes quite severe. Trees do get infected by pest and disease, they get physically damaged by lots of things; and like any living thing, they do get old and eventually die of old age.
There will always insect pests in the environment – we could never eliminate all of them. In fact most insect pests should be regarded as a tolerable and essential part of a rich, diverse landscape. After all, most insect problems are seasonal, perhaps resulting in chewed holes in leaves or spotting on fruit for a few short weeks. Such problems are a small price to pay for a healthy, chemical-free garden. When more serious problems occur on trees, it is more often a result of some other problem affecting the trees which is making them vulnerable to attack. Usually healthy, vigorous, well-maintained plants are resistant to outbreaks of insects and disease.

Although some pests attack healthy plants, it is more the exception than the rule. Many factors influence the presence of disease and pests in your landscape:

  • Host/target species
  • Site conditions
  • Environmental stress, such as drought
  • History of pesticide use

To successfully manage insects and pests on trees the arborist relies on more than a single control method. This may include planting disease-resistant or tolerant species and also the employment of cultural, physical, biological and chemical control methods. Applying multiple control tactics minimises the chance that insects will adapt to any one method.

Plants Have Varying Levels of Tolerance
Every type of plant has a different level of tolerance to adverse environmental effects:

  • There are certain environmental conditions which are preferred. A wide range of plants prefer a temperature between 22°C and 30°C, a soil which is neither waterlogged or bone dry, and plenty of light but not so much that it burns the foliage. However, there are many, many exceptions to these ‘ideal’ conditions.
  • There is a broader range of environmental conditions which are tolerated (eg. Most indoor plants will tolerate temperatures down to 5°C or 10°C and up to 40°C or 45°C; but below 15°C or above 35°C there is little if any growth).
  • Outside of the tolerated range of environmental conditions the plant will suffer and perhaps die. Many tender indoor plants will die at temperatures below 5°C or above 45°C, others tolerate temperatures below zero.

Wind, frost, pollution and all other environmental conditions affect all plants in the same way as the examples above; in other words they have preferred, tolerated and intolerable environmental conditions for growth.

This is where good plant selection plays an important role. By choosing plants that tolerate or prefer the growing conditions that you have, you will greatly reduce the likelihood of plant problems occurring. Alternatively, if you wish to grow other plants, that may not grow readily in your area for some reason, then you need to modify the growing conditions in some way to better suit those plants.

Environmental conditions can vary considerably even from one part of a property to another. You must choose the appropriate plants for the conditions you can offer it, or alter the conditions offered to suit the plants you grow. Plants are normally most sensitive to environmental problems when they are young, so it is important to:

  • Acclimatise a plant to its new environment before removing it from the pot and planting it into its new position.
  • Plant at a time of year when severe environmental problems are least likely (eg. flood, heat waves, snow, frosts, severe storms - avoid planting in these seasons)
  • Provide protection to young plants to ease them into their new environments:
Can you Prune Roots?
Winter is the ideal time to root prune a plant. Root pruning is done for the following reasons:
  • To stop roots growing where they shouldn’t.
  • To stimulate a denser, compact root system in preparation for moving the plant (especially if you want to take your favourite shrub with you to your new house).
  • To restrict top growth/vigour. If you cut the roots back as well as cutting top, then build a wall in soil (trench filled with concrete) to surround/confine root growth …in effect you are stunting the plant. This is very effective at limiting the size of the plant, in the same way that bonsai plants stay small.

How to root prune

  •  First remove about a quarter of the soil and untangle as much of the root mass as possible. Tease long roots out of the ball and cut them off with pruning shears. You can cut off between one-half to one-third of the roots.
  •  For root-bound plants, slice pieces of soil and roots off the edges of the root ball with a sharp knife--about 3cm all around--and make vertical cuts from top to bottom in several places. Then, tease out the remaining roots on the outside of the root ball.
  •  Root pruning will stress the plant a bit, so keep it in a low light area for several weeks and water frequently.



  • Work as an arborist or for an arborists
  • Work on land rehabilitation
  • Work in caring for trees
  • Tree management
  • Tree assessment


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