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Horticulture and Landscape Operative Level 2 Apprenticeship

In Brief

Start Date / Duration

You can start an apprenticeship at any time. You will need an employer to employ you as an apprentice and will have completed your College departmental induction. This course runs for 25 months and 1 day.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements will be determined by individual employers but typically potential apprentices will have a minimum of five GCSEs at Grades 3/D (including maths, English and Science) or other equivalent vocational qualifications. Employers, who recruit apprentices without the above levels of qualifications, will have to ensure they achieve Level 1 in English and maths as part of their apprenticeship.

  •  The Functional Skills minimum requirement is Level 1 English and maths and to sit the Level 2 English and maths Functional Skills examinations in order to access the gateway to the end point assessments for your apprenticeship standard.
  • Other requirements e.g. DBS may be required by your employer.
  • You will need to find an employer to employ you as an apprentice.

 Please see our apprenticeship vacancies to see our current opportunities.


You will achieve

  • Level 2 Apprenticeship Standard – Horticulture Landscape Operative
  • City and Guilds WBL Level 2 Horticulture Diploma Landscape or Parks, Gardens and Green Spaces

Course overview

Horticulture  and  Landscape  Operatives  can  be  employed  to  work  in  public  parks  and gardens, green spaces and historic gardens, private gardens and estates or in production nurseries and retail outlets. Many businesses will be specialised in their activities, such as grounds maintenance (soft-landscape) or landscape construction (hard-landscape). Soft- landscaping includes the establishment and maintenance of plants and cultivated areas. Hard-landscaping includes the establishment of hard surfaces and structures in addition to the establishment of plants in cultivated areas.

The distinct nature of these two specialisms means very few businesses can offer the full breadth of skills and therefore two options are available for this occupation: horticulture and landscape construction. The employment area will dictate the option pursued. The horticulture option focuses on plant propagation and plant growth. The landscape construction option focuses on the installation of features and structures, the application of landscape materials as well as supporting site management.

Work is generally based outside and undertaken throughout the year, so apprentices will frequently work in all weathers. Often people new to the industry will start in a ‘hands-on’ role covering a range of practical tasks, with specialist skills being learnt through progression. A wide range of machinery and tools are used and additional training may be required depending on the nature of the work undertaken.

Working and learning in the horticulture and landscape industries is rewarding, offering a diverse range of employment opportunities and includes a range of skills that are transferable into many other industries.

Click here for further information regarding the Standard Apprenticeship.

Course content

You will cover all the necessary knowledge, practical skills and personal behaviours required to be a Horticulture and Landscape Operative.

You will cover:

  • Industry understanding: The importance and benefits of green-space and the types of horticultural skills appropriate to different businesses and cultural sites.
  • Business: Business policies, vision and values, workers’ contribution to earning profit and awareness of commercial pressure, understanding of how project management informs a team to achieve objectives.
  • Communication: The importance of clear communication, knowledge of different forms of communication aids and their use, the value of effective and timely communication in customer care.
  • Health and safety: Health and safety regulation, legislation, policy and procedure and the responsibility of workers, knowledge of hazards and working to strict health, safety, quality and environmental (HSQE) processes particularly appropriate to horticultural sites.
  • Environmental factors: Waste and waste reduction/recycling and environmental best practice, prevention and control of local pollution incidents.
  • Plant growth and development: Plant nutrition and plant requirements, the principles of germination, photosynthesis, respiration and transpiration (the science of plant growth), how to care for plants correctly in different environments, the relationship between environmental conditions and plant growth.
  • Tools, equipment and machinery: The correct tools, equipment and machinery required for the job and the importance of maintenance/regular checks of these items to ensure they remain in good working order, legal requirement of training by a competent person and familiarity with operator training and certification requirements.
  • Vegetation control: How to control vegetation and methods of site clearance and removal of vegetation.
  • Biosecurity: Biosecurity and phytosanitary measures for pests and diseases and how these apply to work sites, awareness of invasive alien species that may impact work methods.
  • Plant identification: Scientific names including genus, species and cultivar, know why and how plants are identified.
  • Soil science: Why, when and how to cultivate soils for differing purposes. Different growing media and mulches, how to modify soils for plant growth and understand the reasons for cultivation and drainage.
  • Plant health: Basic pest and disease identification/symptoms and control methods.

Core skills:

  • Communication: Communicating with others, including clients, the public and colleagues. This may require basic IT systems use.
  • Teamwork: Working alone and as part of a team effectively, recognising how all staff are dependent on each other to meet business objectives.
  • Health and safety: Applying relevant health and safety processes and procedures, implementing specific industry information on hazards relevant to horticultural environments, following safe systems of work and safety information provided by the employer, implementing environmental protection policies and procedures.
  • Environment: Prevention and control of local pollution incidents e.g. use of spill kits.
  • Planting, plant growth and development: Caring for plants correctly in different environments, including basic irrigation methods, planting methods and identifying plant deficiencies, installing various soft-landscape materials e.g. shrubs, trees, herbaceous, bedding, grass areas and seed, this will include site preparation, planting, sowing, turfing, preparation of seed beds and mulching.
  • Soil cultivation: Cultivating and improving soils by mechanical methods and by hand, making and amelioration of growing media and soils.
  • Tools, equipment and machinery: Safely using tools e.g. spades, rakes, shovels; equipment e.g. tape measure and spirit level and machinery e.g. pedestrian controlled mowers, hand held strimmer, hedge cutter.
  • Vegetation control: Following processes and methods of site clearance, using tools and machinery for pruning and vegetation control, including basic turf management, following weed control methods.
  • Maintenance of hard structures: Maintaining structures relevant to the business activities.
  • Site presentation: Working to a specified finish.

For the landscape construction role, additional knowledge and skills are required:

  • Methods used to measure and set out a site e.g. use of tape measures and measuring wheels, defining features by using string lines or aerosol markers, the principles in defining site levels using manual or electrical equipment.
  • Marking out hazards such as services, interpretation of construction drawings and specifications e.g. quantities, measurements and positioning, the safe use of abrasive wheels for cutting hard landscape materials during construction.
  • Water feature construction methods e.g. linings, pumps and water courses.
  • Installing various hard-landscape construction features and structures e.g. paths, patios, fences and walls, this will include basic bricklaying, paving, timber decking, setting levels and services identification.
  • Free hand cutting and bench cutting of hard landscape materials during construction using abrasive wheels.
  • Assessment and repair of hard structures: Evaluating hazards and damage and if appropriate carrying out repair or reporting. Examples include broken drainage, rotten timber, cracked paving stone and frost damage brickwork.

For the horticulture role, additional knowledge and skills are required:

  • The range and application of different growing media for plant production and propagation, the principles and methods of watering techniques including irrigation systems and hand watering.
  • Ornamental turf management through basic maintenance including mowing, aeration, scarification, and top dressing, how to monitor for issues including damage, water issues, pests and diseases.
  • Ornamental aquatic environments including organic matter controlling both inside and around the feature and monitoring for any maintenance or safety issues.
  • Undertaking correct pruning techniques for a range of plants.
  • Cultivating and maintaining soft-landscape elements e.g. shrubs, trees, herbaceous, bedding, grass areas and seed, assisting the establishment of an area of turf through laying, irrigation, maintenance, and allowing appropriate establishment time before use.
  • Undertaking basic propagation skills including division, cuttings, seed sowing and seed collection.
  • Working without causing damage to features present such as irrigation, turf and aquatic environments.
  • Health and safety: Having a safety-led mind-set for self, colleagues and the public.
  • Customer care: Showing dignity, respect and empathy when dealing with others, including clients, the public and colleagues.
  • Learning behaviours, skills and knowledge effectively from craftspeople and managers.
  • Having a positive and motivated attitude towards work, including having pride in one’s work.
  • Decision making: Adopting a pragmatic timely approach by identifying appropriate solutions to practical problems.

Apprenticeship Standard – Horticulture and Landscape Operative

Core qualifications

 The following qualifications will be required prior to taking the end point assessment.

  • Emergency First Aid: Level 2 Award in Emergency First Aid at Work.
  • Pesticides: Level 2 Principles of Safe Handling and Application of Pesticides Guidance OR Level 2 Award in the Safe Use of Pesticides
  • English and maths: Apprentices without Level 2 English and maths must achieve Level 1 qualification and take the test for Level 2 before taking the end-point assessment.

To comply with legislation/industry standards, individuals who wish to work in some sectors of the industry may have to complete additional certificates of training, statutory licences and health and safety approved competency cards in order to be permitted on to a worksite.

The final assessment will contain three components – all components must be passed for the apprentice to be deemed competent. These form 100% of the overall final assessment.

  • An online knowledge test.
  • A synoptic practical assessment.
  • Professional Discussion.

Level 2 Diploma Horticulture – Landscape or Parks, Gardens and Green Spaces route.

 You will be continually assessed in the workplace of your practical competences. You will produce a written knowledge portfolio to underpin all mandatory units.





All equipment will be provided.

You will study within the workplace and attend classes at Barnsley College, Wigfield Farm campus, Haverlands Lane, Worsborough, Barnsley, S70 5NQ.

The successful apprentice will have the opportunity to progress on to a higher level apprenticeship standard.

You may also wish to consider full-time FE and HE studies on completion of the higher level apprenticeship standard.

Job opportunities will also be enhanced for those apprentices who have completed the programme with promotion to more senior positions such as Assistant Head Gardener or Head Gardener or the option to progress by working in other green space facilities such as Botanical Gardens, University Grounds Maintenance, English Heritage and The National Trust as a Gardener/ Maintenance Operator/Technician.

How much does the course cost?

There is no cost to being an apprentice. All costs associated with your apprenticeship, including the cost of training and your salary, will be paid by your employer.

Extra information

For further information please contact the team on 01226 216166 or email: apprenticeships@barnsley.ac.uk



Barnsley College has a range of sports opportunities for all students to take part in, gain professional training and compete nationally and internationally. We also have a state-of-the-art fitness village, Honeywell Sports Village where students can make use of our fitness suite, spinning studio and classes for competitive rates. You don’t have to be studying sport to get involved in the Sports Academy.

Our Additional Learning Support team can provide you with the support you need. Please contact them on +44 (0)1226 216 769.

Having good English and Maths qualifications are important for most careers and we want to give you the help you need to succeed.

If you are aged 16 – 19 and don’t already have a grade C/4 or above in GCSE English and Maths they will automatically be included in your study programme. If you want to work towards higher grades in English and Maths we can help you do that too.

Need a higher level Maths qualification? We offer a Level 3 Mathematical Studies (Core Maths).

This can be added to your study programme.

If you need any further information, please contact our friendly Information Team.

Please note we reserve the right to change details without notice. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

Horticulture and Landscape Operative Level 2 Apprenticeship

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