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What Is Horticulture?

Over the past decade or so, there a rising demand for locally grown Irish produce. There are several reasons for this, including a growing population. In addition, Irish farmers have renewed focus on under-developed crops such as raspberries and herbs. With this, there are also increased prospects for careers in horticulture.

Horticulture is the science and art of the development, sustainable production, marketing, and use of high-value, intensively cultivated food and ornamental plants. Horticultural crops are diverse; they include annual and perennial species, delicious fruits and vegetables, and decorative indoor and landscape plants. These speciality crops help sustain and enrich our lives by providing nutritious food, enhancing the beauty of our homes and communities and reducing our carbon footprint.

What Courses Are Available?

Numerous colleges of further education and Teagasc colleges offer Level 5 Certificates in Horticulture. Typical subjects include Landscape Construction, Plant Care & Maintenance, and Soil & Plant Science. Students learn about horticulture aesthetic, scientific, and business practices.

Blanchardstown, Cork, and Waterford Institutes of Technology provide three-year Ordinary Degrees in Horticulture. This is done in partnership with local Teagasc horticultural colleges. Students learn about landscape design, sports turf management, nursery stock maintenance and crop production.

UCD offers a degree in Horticulture, Landscape & Sportsturf Management. You can apply directly or through the Agricultural Science omnibus entry system. DCU also run an Honours-level Horticulture Degree, with frequent periods in the National Botanic Gardens for relevant parts of the syllabus.

Studying Horticulture in College

Embarking on one of these courses will provide students with a thorough practical knowledge of Horticulture, Landscape Design, Garden Maintenance and Plant Propagation.  

Topics covered in these courses can often include:

  • Plant & Soil Science
  • Plant Protection
  • Plant Identification and Use
  • Garden Design
  • Plant Propagation
  • Ornamental Gardening
  • Work Practice
  • Communications
  • Work Experience

There is often also a practical element to most of these courses. These can include; garden maintenance in public parks, private gardens and college grounds, growing vegetables in an allotment, and on occasion, there may even be college trips to enhance the students learning.

Career Options

More than tending flowerbeds, pursuing horticulture could lead to a rewarding career – whether you’re helping to combat food poverty or healing patients through therapeutic gardening

Horticultural work can be roughly divided into the commercial and amenity sectors. The commercial area involves the production of fruits, flowers, plants, and vegetables for retail or production purposes. Amenity horticulture involves the design, construction, and upkeep of gardens and landscapes in private residences and public areas such as parks and country houses. Horticulture often combines working with your hands as well as technical tasks such as temperature control or computer design.

Forestry offers several possible careers: managing forests by planning and supervising tasks such as planting and harvesting; providing consultation services to private landowners; researching issues such as forest ecology, function, or conservation; working in the wood manufacturing industry, and so on. Tree surgeons (or ‘arborists’) are responsible for planting and maintaining trees, and are often employed by the local authorities, though they can also operate independently.

Related Jobs

Discover some of the best career opportunities in horticulture – The results will surprise you:

  • Plant pathologist
  • Consultant in Horticulture
  • Ornamental Horticulturist
  • Landscape Designer
  • Writer
  • Pest Management
  • Nursery Worker
  • Urban Farmer


Why study Horticulture?

Students of Horticulture will aim to become skilled specialists dealing with master planning of landscapes and the design of gardens. They will learn how to conduct consultations with advice for clients, provide direction and supervision during construction, and the management of establishment and maintenance once the garden has been created.

Learners will benefit from the practical elements of the courses that give them real-world insight into how they can succeed in garden design. 

These courses are useful to those who are both looking to upskill in an existing role or hoping to pursue a new career in garden design. 

There are plenty of courses available for all skill levels and all requirements. 

Where Can I Study Horticulture?

Explore your options here

Did you know?

A single tree produces approximately 260 pounds (about 18 and a half stone) of oxygen per year, meaning that two adult trees can supply enough oxygen annually to support a family of four people!

Further Resources

Coillte – Ireland’s state-owned forestry business
National Botanic Gardens of Ireland


Whichcollege.ie is a national database of universities, colleges, institutes and providers of third level and PLC courses in Ireland. We operate a national search database of courses at certificate, diploma and degree level as well as providing information about career paths and directions.
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