Learn to Maintain Gardens
- 600 hour certificate level qualification.
- for home gardens, commercial landscapes, parks, historic gardens
- Start any time, self paced learning, study from anywhere
- Start a business
- Enhance your employment opportunities
Study five core modules made up of - Garden Maintenance, Turf I, Horticulture I and Irrigation (Gardens) and
Then study two elective modules chosen from Landscaping I. Practical Horticulture I or II, Plant Protection, Arboriculture and a range of others.
Note that each module in the Qualification - Certificate in Garden Maintenance is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.
Learn How To Manage Garden Waste
Prunings should be put to good use where possible although disease control may be more important. Pruned material that comprises suitable larger branches can be cut into lengths and used for firewood. If it is good quality it could even be used to make various wooden objects such as seats, benches, stepping stones, fence posts, wooden supports, etc.
Prunings are often processed through a chipping machine or shredder to break them into smaller pieces. Machines designed for home garden use are effective for small twigs and foliage but they will struggle to break up thicker wood. Fibrous materials such as Phormium leaves that are very strong indeed may also clog up the shredder. Anything over a couple of centimetres in diameter will need to be put in a larger commercial chipping machine. These are expensive so will usually be beyond the needs of the home gardener. Think carefully about the task at hand and if you have heavy work you may be better hiring a more powerful machine than trying to use something smaller and risking destruction of your machine. Alternatively, arborists will usually have a commercial chipper so you might hire equipment and labour.
Fresh material that has been chipped may contain plant oils or other chemicals that could be a problem if placed around the roots of living plants. Chippings go through a process when first made where chemicals leach out, then decomposition starts. If the pieces are small the rate of decomposition can be quite fast, taking several months, but if pieces are larger the decomposition is slow, sometimes taking several years. It has been suggested that mulch using too much lavender (say from a hedge) can slow down the decomposition because of the oils. You can get round this problem by mixing the lavender with other organic matter.
Bacteria in the soil decompose the material. As they do so they use up nutrients. In particular, 'nitrogen drawdown' takes place. That is, nitrogen in the soil is used by bacteria as they decompose the chippings. Nitrogen is an important food source for plants and is one of the major nutrients needed for healthy growth. Nevertheless, as decomposition progresses the nutrients the bacteria uses for decomposition processes are released back into the soil, as well as other beneficial nutrients. It is best, before placing chippings around living plants, to put the chippings into a heap and moisten the heap with rain or tap water. This allows toxins to leach out, and initial decomposition to happen before it is placed on the ground.
Many people are wary of composting because they are concerned that it may spread disease. However, disease is not an inevitability of composting. Of course, diseases can breed in dead tissues that are being broken down in a compost heap but if composting is done properly the decomposition process results in temperatures that rise to such a high level (i.e. 60°C+), that diseases and pests are killed and weed seeds destroyed. In order to get the temperature in your compost heap up to 60°C+ you will probably need to add two things – water and nitrogen. The water only needs to be added of you have a dry spell and there is therefore a dry layer of debris in the heap. The problem arises when the organisms that do the decomposing do not cross the dry layer. These “decomposing organisms” require the nitrogen so that they can grow and reproduce and along the way produce the well rotted compost. Ammonium nitrate, sulphate or ammonia or anything containing urea will add nitrogen.
Nevertheless, it is best to remove any diseased fruit, flowers, leaves, or other plant parts, and burn them (do not compost them or let them lie on the ground). Any organic material, if left long enough, will eventually rot down due to the action of micro organisms. Composting is simply a way to harness (control) this process, speed up the rate of decomposition, and minimise nutrient losses.
Over the 600 hours of this course you will learn how to mow grass and prune plants; then make informed decisions about what to do with the waste.
As with pruning and mowing everything you do in the garden has repercussions; but often not as obvious as the repercussions from those tasks. When you add fertiliser to soil, the plants extract what they need, and leave a residue of chemical behind. When you spray chemicals, the poisons may kill insects, but again a residue can remain. Even walking over the soil can compact soil, damaging soil structure. Removing a tree will change the light conditions in the garden too.
Learning to maintain gardens requires you to understand the implications of everything you do in a garden. A 100 hour course set you on a path toward that understanding; but this certificate, with more in depth study will take you much further along the path o understanding how to maintain a garden properly.
WHO MIGHT BENEFIT FROM THIS CERTIFICATE?
Anyone wanting to start a business or get a job offering services in any or many different garden contexts, including:
- Home Gardens
- Commercial Properties
- Public Gardens
- Sports Grounds
- Golf Courses
- Interior Plant Maintenance
- Contract Lawn Mowing
- Garden Renovation