Qualification - Foundation Certificate II In Horticulture

Course CodeVHT003
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)150 hours

Fast Track Your skills as a Competent and Qualified Gardener

  • Over 170,000 words and hundreds of illustrations
  • Some of the best qualified teaching staff in the industry
  • Training that has been tried and proven effective for over 30 years in more than 100 countries
  • This course gives you a foundation and framework upon which to build a career or business in gardening. It doesn't teach you everything you might need (that takes decades), but it puts you in a position to start working effectively and continue learning faster and better on the job 

This course was developed and run as the RHS Certificate II  up until July 2010, when it was replaced by the RHS due to changes in the UK accreditation system. Due to popular demand from students, we continue to offer this as a "foundation certificate" examined and awarded by ACS Distance Education in Australia (It no longer holds any endorsement from the RHS).

  • Online course
  • Alternatively, study by distance education using paper based notes or a CD 

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. The Plant Kingdom (part a)
  2. The Plant Kingdom (part b)
  3. The Plant Kingdom (part c)
  4. Plant Propagation
  5. Outdoor Food Production
  6. Garden Planning
  7. The Root Environment and Plant Nutrition
  8. Protected Cultivation
  9. Horticultural Plant Selection, Establishment and Maintenance
  10. Horticultural Plant Health Problems


  • Demonstrate a broad range of horticultural knowledge; communicate clearly and coherently in writing on horticultural matters; and relate horticultural science to its practical application.
  • Understand the classification of higher plants and appreciate the internal structure of higher plants.
  • Understand the external structure of higher plants
  • Develop an understanding of the principles and main practices of plant propagation in horticulture.
  • Understand the fundamental physiological processes within the plant including photosynthesis, respiration, water movement, pollination, fertilisation, seed formation and germination.
  • Develop an understanding of the principles and main practices of plant propagation in horticulture.
  • Understand basic cultural operations and production methods necessary to obtain outdoor food crops.
  • Understand basic surveying and design principles and apply them to basic garden design and planning requirements.
  • Develop an understanding of the constituents, properties and management of soils and growing media.
  • Develop an understanding of environmental control and plant cultivation in greenhouses and other protected environments.
  • Develop an understanding of plant selection, establishment and maintenance of a range of ornamental plants.
  • Develop an understanding of pest, diseases and weeds that affect horticultural plants, and the cultural, biological, chemical and integrated systems used to control those problems.

Nominally 120 hours though we believe only students who already have some prior experience could complete it within this time frame. Most students should expect to spend 150 hours or more doing this course if they hope to be successful when sitting final exams

THE EXAMS     Two exams, 1.5 hrs each

This course was developed and run as the RHS Certificate II  up until July 2010, when it was replaced by the RHS due to changes in the UK accreditation system. Due to popular demand from students, we continue to offer this as a "foundation certificate" examined and awarded by ACS Distance Education in Australia (It no longer holds any endorsement from the RHS).
How To Reduce the Work Needed to Maintain a Garden
Low maintenance starts with knowing the job you are doing. If you have learnt about gardening properly, through a course such as this one; you tend to make fewer mistakes; and not waste money or time anywhere near as much!
The most successful low maintenance gardens usually start at the design stage.

The first two questions to consider are:
"How much untidiness will you tolerate?"
"What style or character do you want your garden to have?"

If you don't mind an untidy or informal appearance, you will have a lot more flexibility in the way the garden is put together.

Good site preparation:
A little work early on will save a lot of time and effort later on. The main tasks to consider are:

  • provision of good drainage
  • improving soil structure and fertility
  • good base preparation and proper laying of paving/other surfacings
  • identifying features present on the site worth keeping.
Materials You Use Can Affect the Amount of Garden Maintenance Needed
Parts of the design may call for permanent or semi permanent furnishings. They may be built into the design of the patio or barbeque area from the start to provide permanent seating along walls and timber dividers or screens.
Included in garden furnishing can be sundials, statues and sculptures and these may need to be set into concrete or bolted down before lawns., paths and plants area added.
Some form of furnishing within the garden will add appeal to the garden. Garden seats have a charm in the cottage garden but need to be stained or treated. Sundials, statues and seats made of either stone, ceramic, metal or plastic will need care suitable to the material.

Wood and timber - treatment is essential if it is to be subjected to weather.
           Hardwares will stock all necessary primers and treatments needed.
           Treated timbers can last a life time.
Plastic - U.V. stablised plastic will last a very long time but will be more expensive.
Metal - polishing or anti-rust agent.
        Life span is variable and depends on the metal used.
Ceramic - rarely needs care.
          Life span is very long. If it breaks it can occasionally be repaired with araldite.
Stone - no care needed- possible occasional cleaning of algae with high pressure water spray. 

To choose furniture that is low maintenance you need to consider:

  • Will the weather deteriorate the structure?
  • What is the lifespan and durability?
  • If damaged, how easy is it to repair or replace?
  • Is it easy to clean?

Making Good Plant Choices
A great mixture of textures and forms will create a wild appearance and hide things which might otherwise look out of place.

When plant foliage is a diverse mixture of different shapes, colours and textures, anything which is out of place such as a weed or patchy growth on a lawn, will tend to blend with the pot pourri of other forms. When the garden is designed to have straight trimmed edges to paths or garden beds, or numbers of the one type of plant are grouped together, things which are different will stand out and become very noticeable.

Use low maintenance plants
Some plants simply take less looking after than others. It isn't just a matter of whether a plant will survive with minimal attention though, but also whether it will look good.

Plants which require little attention in one locality may require a lot of attention in another, so your choice of plants should always consider local conditions, for example roses need to be pruned lightly several times each year in a warm climate, but in a cold climate one pruning is usually enough. Also to consider are the micro climates on your block. Match the plant to the climate AND the microclimate position in the yard.

Tips for plant success

  • Don’t plants which will grow too big and hence always need cutting back.
  • Don't create too much shade. If you want lots of trees, either: plan to eventually grow shade loving plants underneath your trees, or mulch or pave underneath the trees or only use open canopy (not dense) trees. 
  • Avoid plants which self-seed easily (i.e. which drop lots of seed that germinates throughout the garden). These can become a real weed problem.
  • Avoid plants which sucker easily, or are rampant creepers, as they can literally takeover your garden.
  • Avoid short lived plants that need frequent replacing.
  • Avoid using deciduous trees unless you particularly desire them, or you can grow them in an area where falling leaves will not be a problem (e.g. in the middle of a large garden bed. Large leaved deciduous plants are preferable, in terms of maintenance, as the
     leaves are easier to collect than those from smaller leaved plants.
  • Avoid trees that drop branches. These are not only dangerous to you, your animals and buildings, but can also cause major damage to other plants in your (or your neighbour's garden). Plants that drop lots of small branches can also make things difficult for your
     lawn mower.
  • Avoid plants with invasive root systems, or those plants whose roots tend to 'lift' to the surface. These can be a real problem by cracking and clogging up drains and water pipes, or by lifting or cracking paved areas or buildings. In particular the Willows (Salix spp.), Poplars (Populus spp.), Birchs (Betula spp.) and the larger Eucalypts should be avoided, or planted well away from paved areas, buildings or services. 
  • Don't plant berry, or large fruit, producing plants near driveways or paved areas.The fallen fruits can make a real mess, and make trafficked areas very slippery.
  • Avoid plants that drop leaves a lot:
    -If leaves drop from trees (particularly deciduous trees), what will they fall on? On lawn, they make the lawn look messy, particularly if it's a fine lawn. On a rough lawn of mown weeds where textures are varied, the leaves don't look so out of place.
    -Too many leaves can smother and kill young plants or grass. The leaves of some trees,such as many conifers, often contain toxic materials that will effect the growth of plants that they fall on or near. The needles of the Monterey Pine (Pinus radiata), in particular,
     which has become widely naturalised in South-Eastern Australia, will prevent the growth of nearly all plants beneath the Pine. 
    -Wet leaves on paving, concrete or asphalt can become slippery.
    -Leaves on mulch or gravel which has a patchy rather than smooth even texture tend to blend more and are less noticeable.
    -Leaves falling into a pond can be a problem, often creating foul odours, or toxic conditions for water life such as fish. A fine wire mesh cover can be used to protect your pond from falling leaves without greatly reducing light, air and rain penetration. The cover also
    provides some protection for fish from predators such as birds. The cover can be left in position permanently, although this may detract severely from the appearance of the area,   or can be a temporary protection at night or during times of high leaf fall (ie: autumn).
    -Trees that drop a lot of leaves should be avoided close to buildings, otherwise spouting and roof areas will need regular clean ups. This is particularly important in areas subject to heavy downpours or having a high fire risk. Guttering, in particular, will last
    much longer if it is not subject to corrosion from large amounts of decomposing leaf litter. Simply placing a ladder against guttering, walking on the roof, or holding on to guttering to support yourself can result in physical damage to your roof or guttering that will reduce their lifespan, or result in a higher maintenance requirement, and don't forget the physical risk to you. Damage can be greatly reduced if the need to remove large amounts of leaves on a regular basis is minimised by careful positioning of plants that
    drop lots of leaves and/or branches.
    -Gutter guards can be used to prevent leaves blocking up guttering and drainpipes etc.
    -To prevent leaves getting into a swimming pool you can use one of the many available cover pool sheets. Many of these also act as a pool warmer, and some of the stronger ones double as an added safety feature against the possibilty of small children falling into the pool.

Who Will Benefit From This Course?

Do you want a sound foundation and don't mind hard work? This course is extremely comprehensive and allows students to ldevelop sound and  fundamental horticulture skills in order to gain a foothold in this industry.





More from ACS