Horticulture Operative

Horticulture Operatives can be employed to work in established public parks and gardens, green spaces and historic gardens, private gardens and estates.

They can also be involved in the creation of new planted areas (soft landscaping), working in conjunction with designers and landscape contractors (hard landscaping).


  • An apprenticeship is a job with training that allows individuals to gain a national qualification whilst they work and earn.
  • As an apprentice you will earn the appropriate national minimum wage
  • You will attend college one day a week, where you will receive practical and theoretical training
  • The rest of the training and assessment is undertaken in the workplace

Available Courses

  • Level 2 & 3 Horticulture Operative

    About the course

    Work is generally based outside and undertaken throughout the year, so apprentices will frequently work outside in all weathers

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

    The following are the core behaviours that all apprentices are expected to demonstrate.

    Health & Safety – Have a safety-led mindset for self, colleagues & the public.
    Customer care – Show dignity, respect & empathy when dealing with others, including clients, the public & colleagues.
    Learn – Learn behaviours, skills & knowledge effectively from craftspeople and managers.
    Attitude – Have a positive & motivated attitude towards work, including having pride in one’s work.
    Decision making – Adopt a pragmatic timely approach by identifying appropriate solutions to practical problems.

    Apprentices will also have a core knowledge of:

    Industry understanding – The importance & benefits of green-space and the types of horticultural skills appropriate to different businesses & cultural sites.
    Business – Business policies, vision & values. Workers’ contribution to earning profit & 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 & their use. The value of effective & timely communication in customer care.
    Health & Safety – Health & Safety regulation, legislation, policy & procedure & the responsibility of workers. Knowledge of hazards and working to strict health, safety, quality & environmental (HSQE) processes particularly appropriate to horticultural sites.
    Environmental – Waste & waste reduction/recycling & environmental best practice. Prevention & control of local pollution incidents.
    Plant growth & development – Plant nutrition & plant requirements. The principles of germination, photosynthesis, respiration & transpiration (the science of plant growth). How to care for plants correctly in different environments. The relationship between environmental conditions & plant growth.
    Tools, equipment & machinery – Correct tools, equipment & machinery required for the job & 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 & methods of site clearance and removal of vegetation.
    Biosecurity – Biosecurity & phytosanitary measures for pests & diseases & how these apply to work sites. Awareness of invasive alien species that may impact work methods.
    Plant identification – Plant identification by scientific names including genus, species & 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 & disease identification/symptoms and control methods.

    Specifically for the horticulture role, additional knowledge and skills are required. Apprentices should have an understanding of:

    • The range and application of different growing media for plant production & propagation.
    • The principles & methods of watering techniques including irrigation systems & hand watering.
    • Ornamental turf management through basic maintenance; including mowing, aeration, scarification & top dressing.
    • How to monitor for issues including damage, water issues, pests & diseases.
    • Ornamental aquatic environments including organic matter control both inside & around the feature & monitoring for any maintenance or safety issues.

    Have the skills to be able to;

    • Undertake correct pruning techniques for a range of plants.
    • Cultivate & maintain soft-landscape elements e.g. shrubs, trees, herbaceous, bedding, grass areas & seed.
    • Assist in the establishment of an area of turf through laying, irrigation, maintenance & allowing appropriate establishment time before use.
    • Undertake basic propagation skills including division, cuttings, seed sowing & seed collection.
    • Work without causing damage to features present such as irrigation, turf & aquatic environments.

    During your apprenticeship you will be expected to put together a portfolio of work as assignments on the above modules. This will be used as the basis of a professional discussion that you will have with an end-point assessor.  This will have to be stored electronically – We use Smart Assessor.

    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 & maths – Apprentices without Level 2 English and maths must achieve Level 1 and take the test for Level 2 before taking the end-point assessment.

    Entry Requirements

    English & maths – Apprentices without Level 2 English and maths must achieve Level 1 and take the test for Level 2 before taking the end-point assessment.

    To undertake an apprenticeship, you must have an employer. If you do have a job and your employer is keen for you to do an apprenticeship, then please email or call on the details below and we will get in contact with you and your employer to arrange a meeting.

    If you have not already got a job, then take a look at our apprenticeship vacancies here or contact us on the details below.

    Email: apprenticeships@bca.ac.uk
    Telephone: 01628 827438

    Course Duration

    The typical duration for this apprenticeship is 24 months.