RHS Practical

RHS Level 3 Certificate in Practical Horticulture (New)

Course dates at RytonTimePlacesPrice
21st September 20249.30 am15£1710.00

Enrol for this course


The RHS Level 3 Practical Certificate will run at our Ryton Centre on Saturdays (9.30 - 15.30). 

The course will start on 21/9/2024 and run for 30 weeks over an academic year; there will be one practical assessment day and also a separate 'professional discussion' on another date with an RHS examiner.  A practice day will also be scheduled. The final part of the assessment is an online assessment of practical knowledge in June.

This Certificate will deliver the practical element of the new three-part RHS  Level 3 Diploma, alongside the  New RHS Level 3 Certificate in the Principles of Plant Growth, Garden Planning and Applied Propagation  and the  New Award in Horticultural Investigation.

New topics for level 3 include the production of fruit, vegetable and herb crops as well as the design and maintenance of ecological and sustainable plantings.

The Level 3 Practical  Certificate offers a progression for those already in a horticutural role, and is also aimed at anyone with a personal interest in the supervision and development of gardens and landscapes, so meeting the needs of  horticultural professionals and amateur gardeners looking to take their skills to a more professional level.

It is quite different from the previous RHS Level 3 Certificate Practical Horticulture course and has been designed to support specialist/industry specific pathways and is a direct result of the findings of the Horticultural Round Table Group (OHRG). 

A level 3 qualification from the RHS can facilitate career progression and is recognised by the National Trust and many other large employers as an entry into management positions within the horticultural sector.

The RHS states:

'Those involved in the field of Garden and Landscape Maintenance have to be able to apply the principles of horticultural science, seek out best practice, select techniques which are cost effective, embrace sustainability, ensure biosecurity and comply with current legislation as they develop the gardens and landscapes under their care. These horticulturists have to apply the skills developed within the Level 2 qualification, but embrace the concepts of Garden Management Plans, Maintenance Schedules and Garden Health Plans to enable them to manage the many different aspect which make up gardens.'

What will I study?

The RHS Practical Certificate consists of 8 Topics, plus 4 qualification-wide outcomes

Plant Knowledge 1. The identification and requirements of plant species 2. Plant specification and sourcing 3. Plants within gardens and designed landscapes 4. Propagation techniques.

Creating Planted Areas 1. Site preparation 2. Planting schemes 3. The planting process 4. Post-planting management.

Maintaining Planted Areas 1. Maintenance of planted areas 2. Garden management plans / maintenance schedules 3. Evidence-based practice / best practice 4. Evaluation of techniques.

Plant Health 1. Biosecurity 2. Biotic and abiotic impacts on plant health 3. Integrated Pest Management 4. Planning garden health.

Productive Growing 1. Cultivation of vegetables 2. Cultivation of top fruit 3. Cultivation of soft fruit 4. Cultivation of herbs.

Protected Growing 1. Siting, design and maintenance of protected structures 2. Internal structures and equipment 3. Production of crops 4. Management of plant collections.

Ecological and Sustainable Plantings 1. Purpose of ecological and sustainable plantings 2. Species selection 3. Establishment of ecological and sustainable plantings 4. Maintenance of ecological and sustainable plantings. 

Landscaping Materials 1. Inspection of existing hard landscaping features 2. Maintenance plans and schedules for landscaping materials and features 3. Planning a new hard landscaping feature 4. Selection and calculation of materials.

The Qualification-wide outcomes embedded within the course follow on from level 2 and consist of health and safety, sustainability, best practice and equality and diversity.

What is covered?

Click here to download the syllabus for the New Level 3 Practical Certificate.

How is it delivered and assessed?

The Certificate will be delivered at our Ryton Centre on Saturdays over one academic year ( 30 sessions) from 9.30 - 15.30.

This qualification is assessment-based: your tutor will show you various horticultural techniques, and give you guidance on how  to reach a good horticultural standard with those tasks. You will also work together on planning elements of the course  such as devising plant trials, maintenance schedules, planning propagation schedules and creating plans for ecological plantings.     This part of the course will take place in the morning.  

In the afternoon  you will carry out individual work on assigned tasks for vegetable, herb or fruit production, planting etc; work on a planting trial which you will undertake, and develop a portfolio record of your work through the year. Each week one of the group will be 'Team Leader' to supervise the group activities and liaise with the course tutor.   

There will be one Practical Competence Assessment session which will include a plant identification task and direct observation of three practical or proforma-based tasks by an RHS visiting assessor;, A  45-minute  online 'professional discussion'  with an RHS examiner which relates your practical work to the general course syllabus will take place at the centre shortly after the PCA.  

There will also be a 75 minute online exam on Friday 27 June 2025 which will test your knowledge on plants and the wider syllabus with a series of forced answer (multiple choice) questions. 

It can be challenging to demonstrate your best practical work under examination conditions, and we will give you advice and feedback through the course to help you prepare. We will also offer an  Practice Day to help you to be ready for the  Practical Competence Assessment.

There will be regular plant identification tests during the course, and online quizzes to help get used to the RHS test format.

For the RHS Level 3 Award in Horticultural Investigation, the last component part of the RHS Level 3 Diploma in Horticulture there will be an externally validated case study. We are awaiting further details. Please click here for the RHS Level 3 Award in Horticultural Investigation.

The course will require students to use our VLE (online classroom) for additional directed weekly study, supported by our extensive online resources.

What qualification will I get?

On successful completion of the course and RHS assessments, you will receive an RHS  Level 3 Practical Certificate, graded as Pass, Merit or Distinction.

What is the cost and venue(s)?

Venue for 2024 will be our Ryton Centre.

 Important note on RHS fees : The RHS have made a decision that a Centre can only accept you on an RHS course if you commit to the complete assessment process when you start. Their fees for the new Level 3 Practical are £210: that is, £20 registration  and £190 for examination and online assessment. These RHS fees are now due at the beginning of the course as an itemised part of the initial payment.

Tuition fees will be £1500;  with RHS examination and registration fees of £210, the  total cost is £1710 if the course is paid for in full in advance, or £1730 if paid in four instalments of £432.50.

There will be a non-refundable booking fee* payable when you enrol on the course;  this is 25% of the full cost of the course plus a £5 administration charge ( £432.50 payable as the first instalment). This covers the registration and certification fees and secures your place on the course.

The remainder of the course fees can be paid in three equal instalments of £432.50 on weeks 8, 16 and 24  (including the administration fee of £5.00 for each instalment). You will receive statements of account during your course but we do not sent  out specific reminders for staged payments.
You can ask us to set up a direct debit mandate when you book the course by indicating 'yes' on the enrolment form and we will be pleased to send you a mandate form by email. Once this has been returned to us we can request payments from your bank on or about weeks 8, 16 and 24.

*Please note: In the event of a place not being available or the course not running, the booking fee will be returned to you; but otherwise the booking fee is only refundable at the discretion of BEST in Horticulture.


What is the enrolment process?

Cclick on the 'enrol now' button above and complete an enrolment form.

Please note course places will be limited;  if no course places are showing, please contact our administrator about a waiting list; while the new Certificates are being rolled out there may be some flexibility in adding extra dates.

Once a booking has been made,  you will receive a confirmation of your place.  Shortly before the course begins you will be sent joining instructions.

What else do I need to know?

It is recommended that learners will have successfully completed a level 2 course such as The RHS Level 2 Certificate in horticulture or a suitable alternative. Applicants working within the horticultural industry will be considered on the basis of previous qualifications and industry experience.

It is not suited to adult learners who haven’t recently studied.

What can I do after completing this course?

You can go on to study  the RHS Level 3 Certificate in the Principles of Plant Growth, Garden Planning and Applied Propagation. With the Award in Horticultural Investigation you can then achieve an RHS Level 3 Diploma.