Home Garden Expert Course

Course CodeAHT101
Fee CodeS1
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

This is a course for enthusiasts with a passion for gardening

It covers everything a home gardener needs to know to become an expert garden guru. Impress your friends and family with your gardening knowledge or just become confident in your gardening abilities.

  • Develop garden ideas for your home and garden
  • Refine your gardening techniques and learn from international gardening experts.
  • Learn practical gardening skills
  • Understand garden designs concepts

Student Testimonial: Pauline Ross, Home Garden Expert
"This is a great course for anyone interested in plants. There is lots of information in each manual, and plenty of time to do each lesson to give it your best shot. The manuals are really easy to understand, and the lessons are set out clearly. My tutor is very nice, and if need be, you can ring ACS for help. There are lots of avenues for getting information. Students who really want to learn will always find a way."

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Basic Plant Identification & Culture
    • Plant names-common and scientific
    • Recognising groupings of plants into families and genera
    • Planting
    • Understanding cold in the garden
    • Protecting new plantings
    • Different potting needs
    • Hanging baskets
    • How to select the most appropriate plant
    • Transplanting from pots
    • Basic planting procedure
    • Best time to plant
    • Planting bare rooted plants
    • Mulching
    • Tools & equipment.
    • How to cut with secateurs
    • Aims of pruning
    • Pruning terminology
    • When to prune
    • Pruning methods
    • Pruning in the home orchard
    • Review of 16 different plants
  2. Soils & Nutrition
    • Soil texture and structure
    • Different soils for different purposes
    • Terminology
    • Water, air, temperature of soil
    • Nutrient elements
    • Nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, calcium, sulphur
    • Minor elements
    • Deficiencies and toxicities
    • Feeding plants
    • Factors affecting fertiliser application
    • Organic fertilisers; manures, rock dusts, seaweed
    • Ways to apply fertiliser
    • Soil chemical properties
    • Soil building
    • Improving texture, fertility, etc
    • Total salts
    • Acidity and alkalinity
    • Composting
    • Drainage
    • Review of sixteen different plants
  3. Pests & Weeds
    • Identifying problems
    • Preventative measures
    • Types of problems -parasitic and non parasitic, pest, disease, environmental etc
    • Chemical vs natural controls
    • Common problems and treatments used for them, both natural and chemical
    • Safety with chemicals
    • Plants to improve soils -cover crops
    • Biological control
    • Weed identification
    • Types of weeds
    • Types of weed problems
    • Weed control methods
    • Review of 16 different plants
  4. Landscaping
    • Types of gardens -formal, informal, natural
    • Cottage gardens, Mediterranean, Japanese, naturalistic, permaculture
    • History of Gardening
    • Design principles or concepts -line, texture, colour, balance etc.
    • Using paving, stone, gravel, etc
    • Selecting landscape materials
    • Moving earth
    • Using timber
    • Rockeries
    • Drainage -surface and sub surface
    • Designing a home garden, step by step, through to drawing the plan
    • Creating user friendly gardens
    • How to use colour
    • Creating a natural style
    • How to use plants
    • How to create a garden room
    • Native gardens
    • Traditional (European style) home gardens.
    • Hedges and Mazes
    • Review of 16 different plants
  5. Propagation
    • Methods -asexual and sexual
    • Equipment, cold frames
    • Seed treatments -acid digestion, stratification, scarification, etc
    • Soils, soil mixes, propagating media
    • UC mixes
    • ph
    • Types of media and components -rock, stone, synthetic, organic, soil
    • Growing plants from seed
    • Hygiene
    • How to sow into containers
    • Germination
    • Pricking out seedlings
    • Cutting propagation
    • Types of cuttings, hardwood, softwood, herbaceous, nodal, tip, etc
    • Cutting treatments -hormones, wounding etc
    • Managing parent plants
    • Cutting propagation for a range of specific plant genera
    • Setting out cuttings
    • Potting on cuttings
    • Review of 16 different plants
  6. Lawns
    • Value of lawns
    • Lawn shape and design
    • Ways of establishment -seeding, turfing, rough mowing
    • Laying a new lawn
    • Turf grass varieties -couch, fescue, rye, bent, Kentucky,
    • Lawn problems -nutritional, environmental, pest, disease, weeds
    • Lawn renovation -topdressing, dethatching, aeration, etc
    • Turf maintenance practices -rolling, spiking, slicing, drilling, etc
    • Watering lawns
    • Review of 16 different plants
  7. Indoor Gardening
    • Why some indoor plants do not perform
    • Caring for plants -growth rates, dormancy
    • General rules to follow
    • Choosing the right pot or container
    • Hydroponics
    • Bonsai
    • Greenhouses
    • Shade houses
    • Heaters
    • Other ways to grow plants -epiphytes, terrariums, water gardens
    • Selecting indoor plants for different light and other conditions
    • Hardy indoor plants
    • How to maintain indoor plants in pots
    • Problems with potted plants and solutions
    • Groups or types of indoor plants -foliage, flowering etc
    • Review of 16 different plants
  8. The Kitchen Garden
    • Getting started
    • Choosing what to grow
    • Planning a cropping program
    • Getting the best from a Vegetable plot
    • Crop rotation
    • Use disease resistant varieties
    • Timing
    • Special techniques -green manures, no dig beds, raised beds
    • Minimising water use
    • Making compost
    • Varieties and seeds
    • Raising and transplanting seedlings
    • Directory/review of how to grow most common vegetables (this is an extensive study)
    • Harvesting
    • Establishing a home orchard
    • Deciduous Fruit trees
    • Pollination needs
    • Review of common temperate and subtropical fruits from grapes to mangoes and apples to citrus
    • Nuts -review of most common types
    • Berry Fruits -review of most common types
    • Using excess harvest -preserves etc
    • Herb cultivation
    • Review of most common herbs
    • Harvesting herbs
    • Designing a culinary herb garden
    • Companion planting
    • Using herbs -garnishes, soups, pot-pourri, etc
    • Poisonous plants
    • Cultivating annual flowers
    • Review of 16 different plants


  • Identify plant health problems and know treatments.
  • Know the plant naming system and how plants are classified.
  • Understand the effect of soil structure and texture on plant growth.
  • Understand plant terminology and planting methods.
  • Understand plant pruning requirements and methods
  • Know plant nutrition requirements
  • Understand soil conditions and when they require improvement.
  • Recognise a range of pests and diseases and the methods of control.
  • Recognise a range of weeds and know various control methods.
  • Know a range of garden styles and the history behind them.
  • Have knowledge of landscape construction techniques.
  • Understand the elements and processes of landscape design.
  • Understand various propagating techniques
  • Propagate plants by various methods
  • Understand the soil preparation and requirements to establish or renovate a lawn
  • Know lawn maintenance requirements.
  • Understand requirements, including environmental and nutritional aspects of growing plants indoors (including hydroponics and greenhouses).
  • Know how to select plants suited to growth indoors
  • Develop knowledge of vegetable growing procedures and requirements.
  • Have knowledge of a range of fruits and berries suited to the home garden
  • Have knowledge of a range of commonly grown herbs and flowers

What You Will Do

  • Read notes written and supplied by staff of this school
  • Watch instructional video
  • Test and name different soils
  • Mix inexpensive potting mixes
  • Make compost and explain how you made it.
  • Learn how to identify plants effectively.
  • Explain step by step how you would go about planting shrubs in your own locality.
  • Explain how to transplant and transport plants from one propertyu to another.
  • Determine the tools required to do gardening for a property, using a limited supply of money.
  • Explain characteristics of soil, including: Soil Structure, pH and Nutrient Deficiency
  • Describe how to fertilize a lawn
  • Explain how to improve drainage in a soil that is too wet for plants to do well in.
  • Explain how you would improve a specified soil
  • Identify a nutrient deficiency
  • Observe and identify different categories of pest and disease problems in growing plants.
  • Compile a weed collection with pressings or illustrations of different weeds
  • Compile a plant collection with pressings or illustrations of different weeds
  • Describe how environmental problems affect plants
  • Recommend ways of controlling different types opf problems in plants, using both natural and chemical.
  • Observe and evaluate different types of gardens.
  • Survey a garden in order to prepare a garden design.
  • Apply a systematic procedure to landscape design, in order to produce a concept plan for a garden.
  • Explain mistakes have you observe in the design and construction of different rockeries
  • Build a simple cold frame and us it to propagate plants.
  • Prepare propagating mix which would be suitable for striking most types of cuttings.
  • Propagate different plants from cuttings.
  • Prepare a plan for sowing annual flower seedlings over a 12 month period.
  • Evaluate and explain a lawn seed mix from the packaging of that mix
  • Observe different lawns and recommend their treatment
  • Explain how to establish a lawn
  • Observe and evaluate the condition of different indoor plants.
  • Recommend the treatment of different indoor plants.
  • Prepare lists of indoor plants for different applications.
  • Find an indoor plant which needs potting up & pot it up.
  • Plant a vegetable patch.
  • List fruit, nuts & berries most suited for growing in your locality
  • Observe the way in which herbs are used commercially (eg. in medicine, cooking etc)
  • Explain why crop rotation is used in growing vegetables?

Keeping a Garden in Top Condition

Things fall or blow into gardens all the time. It doesn’t matter whether the problem is leaves and twigs dropping from overhead trees, or papers and plastic bags blowing in from the street, no-one likes to sit in a garden that looks really messy.

Fortunately, keeping the garden clean is a lot easier now than in the past. Modern machinery, and a better understanding of garden design, have greatly reduced what was once tedious and, in a large garden, back-breaking work.


Learn Home Garden Design in this course
The way you design the garden can have a huge impact upon how much cleaning up you will need to do. There following tips will help you to minimise the work you are likely to face:

Around the house

  •  Build fences along the boundaries. On windy days these will catch most of the air-borne material, so that all you need do is a quick clean-up along the fence line after the wind has stopped.
  • Avoid creating wind tunnels between buildings. Narrow passages between the house, garage and fence are particularly prone to becoming wind tunnels and, as such, are often full of papers, leaves and other debris.
  • Avoid the use of light-coloured, paved driveways, and grey cement paths and driveways. Oil marks, tyre marks, algae and mildew will show up much more readily on light-coloured surfaces.
  • Avoid using light-coloured hard surfaces in shady, damp areas, otherwise you’ll be forever battling mould, moss, mildew and algae growth and stains.
  • Avoid locating gravel paths and driveways near trees, which drop a lot of leaves, seeds or twigs – they can be very difficult to rake out of the gravel.
  • Don’t use sandstone, light-coloured concrete blocks, or similar materials around barbeques – the grease soaks in, leaving permanent stains.

 In the Home and Garden

  •  Use screen plantings along the boundaries to slow the passage of wind and to prevent rubbish blowing in.
  • Avoid trees that constantly drop leaves and twigs. Although deciduous trees drop lots of leaves in autumn, that only occurs for a short period, and the leaves can be easily raked up and composted.
  • Avoid having plants that produce berries or other soft fruits overhanging lawn, hard-surfaced areas (such as paving), or garden furniture.
  • Avoid having plants that drip lots of resins (e.g. some conifers), saps, or nectar from flowers overhanging hard-surfaced areas.
  • Avoid planting shallow-rooted and short-lived trees in windy areas. Quick-growing acacias are notorious for toppling over in strong winds, and are potentially a major cleaning-up headache.
  • In windy areas, use heavier woody mulches, such as bark, in preference to fine light mulches, such as lucerne or deciduous leaves.
  • Keep the garden well watered. When plants are under stress they drop leaves as a survival mechanism.
  • Wildlife in the garden (birds/possums etc) can break foliage, make a mess with fruit and berries, and drop faeces on paths and outdoor furniture. Keep trees that attract such animals away from paths, walls and other hard landscaping.
  • Watch out for insects, which create a mess. If possible, treat infestations before they get out of hand, and avoid planting hibiscus, citrus and other plants susceptible to such problems near paths, furniture, etc.

You might be amazed how much time and effort you can save maintaining your garden, by following some of the simple design tips from above, and by using the right equipment to help you clean up when it becomes necessary to do so.

A great course for the home gardener whether you are experienced or a novice

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