RHS Level 3 Certificate in the Principles of Garden Planning, Construction and Planting

Full CourseLocationPrice
RHS Level 3 Certificate in the Principles of Garden Planning, Construction and PlantingHome£375.00
Course ModulesPrice
(DL) Level 3GP Individual unit 1: Garden Survey Techniques and Design Principles£100.00
(DL) Level 3GP Individual unit 2: Selection and Use of Landscaping Elements in the Garden£100.00
(DL) Level 3GP Individual unit 3:Setting Out and Construction of Landscaping Elements in the Garden£100.00
(DL) Level 3GP Individual unit 4: Specialist Elements in Garden and Urban Plantings£100.00

Enrol for this course or module

Information from the RHS  -  November 2022 update

The current suite of RHS qualifications is being replaced,  but the introduction of the new level 3 qualifications has been delayed:  examinations for the current level 3 theory Certificates will continue through 2023, and have been extended through 2024 with the absolute final exam round in February 2025.

The RHS have set a deadline for enrolment of March 31 2023 for anyone  wishing to embark on study  for the Level 3 Plant Growth Certificate; they have in November extended the enrolment deadline for  the Level 3 Certificate in Garden Planning to 31 March 2024.  'Enrolment' does not mean you need to be registered for an examination before that cut-off date.

This means that you can begin to study the Level 3 Certificate in Plant Growth online (or as a correspondence course) up to the end of March 2023 if you wish to achieve your Level 3 Diploma, and the Level 3 Garden Planning Certificate up to March 2024; but anyone thinking of doing so should be aware of the limited exam opportunities (June 2023 and February and June 2024, February 2025) for completion. Incomplete Certificates cannot be transferred to the new qualification.

Completing both the current theory Certificates plus the current Practical in 2022-23 or the new Practical Certificate in 2023-4 will allow you to achieve the current RHS Level 3 Diploma before the cut-off for transitions in July 2025. You can read about the transition arrangements and how some parts of the 'New' qualifications can help you complete the 'Old' Diploma on the RHS website here or download their Level 3 transition document here.

The new qualification framework from 2023 will  consist of one theory and one practical Certificate, which will form an Advanced Certificate; this can become a Level 3 Diploma with the addition of an Award in Horticultural Investigation.

 There is no equivalent Level 3 qualification for the RHS Garden Planning Certificate in the new courses. This is why it will run for one additional year.

A level 3 qualification from the RHS can help you to move upwards in your horticultural career. The National Trust and many other employers require level 3 qualifications for supervisory roles, and the RHS qualification builds on Level 2 skills to focus on a deeper understanding of horticulture, and on more professional techniques. Keen gardeners can challenge themselves, and develop their skills to a professional level. 

This current course looks at garden history and design principles, the planning of private gardens and public spaces, and includes an outline of setting out and construction for hard landscaping; it builds up plant knowledge for a wide range of planting styles and contemporary garden situations. 

What will I study?

Each RHS Certificate is made up of four individual units: you can work through them in turn, or you can just study single units that interest you.

Garden Survey Techniques and Design Principles
Selection and Use of Landscaping Elements in the Garden
Setting Out and Construction of Landscaping Elements in the Garden
A Range of Specialist Elements in the Establishment of Garden and Urban Plantings

What is covered?

Click here for the RHS Level 3 Syllabus which provides you with a complete overview of the course.

How is it delivered and assessed?

Online study through a “virtual classroom” 

There is a dedicated online space for each unit, which you share with other students on your course. 

You can download all your notes and presentations to read on or offline, view interactive materials and ‘self-test’ quizzes, contact the course tutor by internal messaging for feedback and support, upload practice exam papers and questions for marking, and get in touch with other students. 

Click here to enter the teaching website and see some examples of course materials in a sample online classroom.


What qualification will I get?

When you have passed exams in all the units, the Royal Horticultural Society will award a Level 3 Certificate in the Principles of Garden Planning, Construction and Planting.

If you successfully complete the other theory Certificate, and the RHS Level 3 Practical Certificate in Horticulture as well, the RHS will award you a Level 3 Diploma in the Principles and Practices of Horticulture.

What is the cost and venue(s)?

Study at home, or whenever and wherever it suits you. You can download most of the course materials, print them out if you prefer, or take them with you on a tablet on your daily commute.

You can buy each unit separately at £100 or the full Certificate (four units) is £375.

These course costs do not include RHS examination fees  (currently about £29 per unit, prices increase each year in September). 

These fees are paid to the RHS by the Centre where you choose to take your exams, and while we offer our students the facility to take exams at our Ryton and North Moreton, these may not be the most convenient locations for you. You can arrange to take examinations at any Centre which offers your specific exam and which will accept an external candidate. The RHS website gives guidance on finding an exam centre. you can also choose to take your exams online using your own computer and remote invigilation - for this you need to contact the RHS direct on


What is the enrolment process?

You can enrol and buy your chosen units on the website using PayPal.

For online courses, your username and password should be emailed to you automatically; please check spam filters if you do not see an email within an hour, and contact us if nothing has arrived overnight.


What else do I need to know?

There is no compulsory course work, but you will be given the opportunity to try practice examination questions if you are going to take the examinations.

Our candidates enjoy a high level of success in RHS examinations, with over 90% passing on the first attempt and approximately half of those, passing with commendation (that means they achieve 70% or more in the exam).

Your enrolment gives you online access and tutor support for two years,  or until the final examinations which the RHS hold for this form of the Certificate.

What can I do after completing this course?

You can go on to study the second theory Certificate, the RHS Level 3 Certificate in Plant Growth, Health and Applied Propagation. Alternatively, you could undertake the RHS Level 3 Practical Certificate in Horticulture, which is assessed rather than examination- based qualification, and work towards the  full RHS Level 3 Diploma in the Principles and Practices of Horticulture. 

An RHS Level 3 qualification is well respected in the horticultural industry and can help with career progression to a supervisory role for National Trust and many other employers.

After completing your studies at Level 3 you might want to consider the RHS’s own Master of Horticulture, a degree-level qualification which is suitable if you are already employed in horticulture with supervisory experience, or a horticultural degree at a British university.

We also offer you the opportunity to pursue an interest in a garden design with our Practical Garden Design Course. Click  on the tabs below for more information.