advanced certificate in applied mangement - (retail Nursery / garden centre)

Garden centres and retail nurseries represent a hugely important sector of the horticultural industry responsible for the selling of plants and plant related products to the public.

This course covers the fundamentals of business management in the first half and moves on to horticulture skills in the second half, with a focus on the nursery sector. Business operations and management, marketing, office practices, horticulture fundamentals, garden centre management and retail sales skills are all comprehensively covered over 7 units.

This is a 900 hour course that develops both the skills required to manage a retail business and the knowledge of plant identification, care and handling of plants and other products sold through retail nurseries. The course trains managers or supervisors rather than workers. It is comprehensive and demanding, having been written by industry experts working alongside the Garden Design Academy tutors.

There are 4 core units common to all variants of the Advanced Certificate in Applied Management and three specialist units of study trelating to the management and operation of a retail nursery. The core studies cover office practices, business operations, management and marketing.

The Garden Design Academy is run by experienced horticulturists and retailers passionate about passing on their knowledge to a new generation. It draws on decades of industry experience to offer a range of courses tailored to the needs of the modern professional.

The course develops the knowledge and skills needed to work as a manager or supervisor in the garden centre /retail nursery industry and provides essential background training in the proergation and growing on of plants.

The Advanced Certificate requires successful completion of each of the following 7 modules. It consists of three parts, including the following modules:

Part 1 (Core units):

Office Practices
Develops basic office skills covering use of equipment, communication systems (telephone, fax, etc) and office procedures such as filing, security, workplace organisations, etc. 

Business Operations
Develops knowledge of basic business operations and procedures (eg. types of businesses, financial management, business analysis, staffing, productivity, etc) and the skills to develop a 12 month business plan.

Develops knowledge of management structures, terminology, supervision, recruitment and workplace health and safety.

Marketing Foundations.
Develops a broad understanding of marketing and specific skills in writing advertisements, undertaking market research, developing an appropriate marketing plan and selling.

Part 2 (Retail nursery stream):


  • Plant Identification: Naming plants; distinguishing the taxonomic divisions of plants including family, genus, species and variety or hybrid; identifying the different parts of a flower; distinguishing the morphological characteristics of leaves.
  • Planting: Planting methods used for different types of plants including annuals, perennials, evergreen and deciduous plants; influence of environmental factors on planting techniques.
  • Soils: Classifying soils; sampling and testing soils; chemical and physical properties of soils; soil improvement techniques; composting; potting mixes.
  • Nutrition: Major and micro elements necessary for plant growth; nutrient deficiencies and toxicities; fertilisers.
  • Water Management: Irrigation systems – characteristics, advantages and disadvantages; drainage systems; waterwise gardening.
  • Pruning: Pruning techniques; importance of pruning to growth, flowering and fruiting; pruning tools.
  • Weeds: Identifying common weeds; characteristics of weeds; control techniques; herbicides.
  • Pests and Diseases: Identifying common insect and disease problems; control methods; Integrated Pest Management; pesticides; hygiene procedures; chemical safety.
  • Landscaping: Stages of landscaping; design procedures; collating pre-planning information; preparing plans; selecting plants for specified sites.
  • Propagation: Asexual and sexual propagation; taking cuttings; sowing seeds; aftercare of propagated plants.
  • Lawns: Turf grass varieties; laying a new lawn; cultural techniques including watering, fertilizing, topdressing, aerating, pest and disease control.
  • Arboriculture: Tree management techniques including pruning, removal and tree surgery; identifying tree problems.


  • Introduction to Plant Identification: Understanding plant classification and pronunciation of plant names.
  • Sales Skills: Determining different types of customers; developing the communication skills to sell, including how to open and close a sale.
  • Caring for Plants: Planting techniques, understanding soils, plant nutrition and pest management.
  • Selecting the Right Plant for the Right Place: How to create different moods using plants.
  • Advising Customers in a Nursery: Developing good communication skills, knowing your product, plant placement.


  • Introduction: Plant classification, plant cultural requirements, soil and nutrition, watering requirements, drainage, temperature, light, humidity.
  • Plant Health: How to diagnose a problem, pests, diseases, nutrient deficiencies, frost, sunburn, chemical damage, insufficient light, overwatering.
  • Stock Maintenance: Quality standards, buying new stock, inspecting stock, extending stock life, disposing of below-standard stock, watering techniques, fertilising, pest and disease control.
  • Display and Display Techniques: Display units, product location, sales area layout.
  • Garden Product Knowledge I: Plant containers, tags, soil mixes, equipment, tools.
  • Garden Product Knowledge II: Chemicals, fertilisers, baskets, terrariums, cut flowers.
  • Indoor Plants: Major groups, common problems, plants for specific situations, customer attitudes.
  • Container Stock: Trees and Shrubs.
  • Seedlings, Bulbs, Herbs and Perennials.
  • A: Deciduous Trees, Fruit, Nuts, Berries. B. Seed.
  • Marketing: Pricing strategy, advertising, promotions.
  • Management: Staff control, staff productivity, work scheduling.

Part 3 - Project:

A workplace project of 200 hrs relevant to your field of study. The project specifically aims to provide the student with the opportunity to apply and integrate skills and knowledge developed through various areas of formal study.

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the Academy, marked by the Academy's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

Working with Colin Elliott, an experienced professional horticulturist with extensive nursery and garden centre industry experience, these courses are your route to a successful future in garden retailing at a management level.

Note: Fees do not include exam fees

Advanced Certificate in Applied Management (Retail Nursery)

Course cost: £ 1,650 (single payment)

OR 2 payments of £ 880

OR 3 payments of £ 635

Book your course NOW

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