RHS Level 2 Certificate in the Principles of Garden Planning, Establishment and Maintenance (pre-September 2022)

This theory-based qualification teaches the principles which underpin horticultural practices – supporting entry into professional horticulture and providing a foundation for further learning 

If you are just starting out on your RHS Qualifications journey, please see our revised RHS Level 2 Qualifications that are now available to enrol on.

Please note: This page is for candidates who have partially completed the Level 2 prior to the 2022 update.

Who is this qualification for?

Career changers. Looking to break into professional horticulture for the first time

Professional horticulturists. Already working in horticulture and wanting to develop knowledge further

Casual learners. Wanting to develop personal interest and progress to further horticultural study at level 3

Busy people. Need a flexible learning style? Our qualifications are designed to be studied part-time
Principles of Garden Planning, Establishment and Maintenance

Modules, learning outcomes and assessment

Each module is assessed by an RHS set examination conducted at an RHS approved qualifications centre in February and June. To achieve the qualification all four unit exams must be completed and achieved.

Garden features, plant selection and planning
  • Carry out and record a garden survey
  • Carry out a site appraisal and record essential data
  • Basic garden planning principles and the elements that contribute to a good design
  • Characteristics of accepted garden design styles
  • Effective and appropriate use of hard landscaping materials
  • Effective use of soft landscaping elements
  • Incorporate key elements into a cohesive design
  • Safe, healthy, environmentally sensitive and sustainable development of garden sites
Choice, establishment and maintenance of garden plants and lawns
  • Plants for seasonal display and their establishment and maintenance
  • Herbaceous perennial plants and bulbs for display and how to grow them
  • Woody plants for display and their establishment and maintenance
  • Alpine and rock garden plants and how to grow them
  • Planting and maintenance of a garden pool
  • Establishment and maintenance of lawns
Production of outdoor vegetables and fruit
  • Importance of site selection for outdoor food production in a garden or allotment
  • Cultural operations used to produce outdoor food crops in a garden or allotment
  • Principles of vegetable crop production
  • Production of top and soft fruit for a garden or allotment
Protected environments and their use in plant cultivation
  • Types of protected structure, and their use in growing plants
  • Environment provided by a range of protected structures
  • Structural and cladding materials used for a range of protected structures
  • Controlling the environment in protected structures
  • Container and growing media used for production and display in protected environments
  • Horticultural uses of the protected environment
  • Care of plants in an interior situation

Find a learning provider

Documents and information

More (pre-September 2022) RHS Level 2 Qualifications

After the qualification

Career opportunities

You will have gained a range of horticultural knowledge relevant to employment in various roles in commercial plant production and the horticultural sector, such as a head gardener or supervisor in private, public, or botanic gardens or parks and urban green spaces.

See more on horticultural careers >>

Further learning

The qualification supports progression to level 3 courses in horticulture (RHS Level 3 Qualifications) or entry onto various horticultural training programmes.

University of Surrey student

“The RHS level 2 course gave me the confidence to approach people about my design work and the subsequent use of plants, with a feeling that I could now give examples and solid reasoning for my planting decisions” - Brent Purtell, Level 2 student

Read more learner stories

More from RHS Qualifications

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.