Landscape Horticulturist: Red Seal Occupational Standard (RSOS)

The Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship (CCDA) recognizes this Red Seal Occupational Standard (RSOS) as the Red Seal standard for the Landscape Horticulturist trade.

Red Seal Occupational Standard Series

Disponible en français sous le titre : Horticulteur-Paysagiste / Horticultrice-Paysagiste

NOC : 2225

Designation Year: 2008

RSOS Products for Download

The Landscape Horticulturist Red Seal Occupational Standard is developed by Canadian trade representatives. It collects information about the trade as it is practiced across Canada.

This RSOS information is combined in several ways to generate several RSOS Products, each these is based on information contained in the complete RSOS, and is geared to user needs:

Product Purpose
Red Seal Occupational Standard - Landscape Horticulturist A complete description of all trade activities, skills and knowledge. The Standard defines the trade by collecting and organizing elements together.
Trade Profile - Landscape Horticulturist A quick snapshot of all trade activities in the standard. It can be used to self-assess experience. It can be used to introduce a concise summary of all trade activities to those wanting to learn about the trade. It can also be used for gap analysis.
Red Seal Exam Self-Assessment Guide – Landscape Horticulturist (PDF, 955 KB) Use this self-assessment tool to rate your own understanding and experience with the tasks of the trade that are on the Red Seal examination.

General Information

Description of the Landscape Horticulturist Trade

“Landscape Horticulturist” is this trade's official Red Seal occupational title approved by the CCDA. This standard covers tasks performed by a Landscape Horticulturist whose occupational title has been identified by some provinces and territories of Canada under the following names:

Landscape Horticulturist x x x x x x x x

Horticultural Technician


Landscape horticulturists survey and assess landscapes, draw sketches and interpret plans. They construct and maintain gardens, parks, golf courses and other landscape environments. In addition, landscape horticulturists construct and maintain hard landscape elements, such as patios, walkways and walls. They also prepare estimates, provide products and services, and advise clients on issues related to horticulture and landscape projects. Landscape horticulturists also propagate, cultivate and study plants, and treat injured and diseased plants. They are employed by landscape designers, architects and contractors, lawn service and tree care establishments, recreation facilities, golf courses, parks, nurseries, greenhouses, and municipal, provincial and federal governments. They may also be self-employed.

Landscape horticulturists work with machinery and equipment ranging from simple hand tools to heavy equipment. They may be responsible for routine maintenance of tools and equipment. Landscape horticulturists may also work with a variety of products such as soils, pesticides, fertilizers and fuels and must be aware of their safe use, environmental best practices and government regulations.

Some landscape horticulturists specialize in areas such as landscape design, construction and maintenance, and greenhouse, sod and nursery production. They may work independently or with other professionals such as landscape architects, architects, engineers, and municipal planners.

Landscape horticulturists require good communication skills to coordinate and facilitate work with clients, co-workers and other trades. They also require strong analytical, decision making and organizational abilities.

The majority of the work such as landscape construction and maintenance, and snow and ice control is performed outdoors in all types of weather. Indoor work may involve greenhouse production, interior landscaping, and the sale of plants, landscape materials and supplies. The work may be strenuous and may involve activities such as lifting, climbing, carrying and bending. Employment in this trade may be seasonal with long hours.

With experience and proven competence, landscape horticulturists may advance to supervisory positions, training positions or become business owners.

This standard recognizes similarities or overlaps with the work of other tradespeople such as arborists, bricklayers/stone masons, heavy equipment operators, electricians, roofers, plumbers, small engine mechanics and carpenters.

Essential skills summary

Essential skills are needed for work, learning and life. They provide the foundation for learning all other skills and enable people to evolve with their jobs and adapt to workplace change.

Through extensive research, the Government of Canada and other national and international agencies have identified and validated nine essential skills. These skills are used in nearly every occupation and throughout daily life in different ways.

A series of CCDA-endorsed tools have been developed to support apprentices in their training and to be better prepared for a career in the trades. The tools can be used independently or with the assistance of a tradesperson, trainer, employer, teacher or mentor to:

  • understand how essential skills are used in the trades;
  • learn about individual essential skills strengths and areas for improvement; and
  • improve essential skills and increase success in an apprenticeship program.

Tools are available online or for order at:

The application of these skills may be described throughout this document within the competency statements which support each subtask of the trade. The following are summaries of the requirements in each of the essential skills, taken from the essential skills profile.

  • Reading

    Landscape horticulturists require reading skills to review work-related documents such as site plans, work orders, contracts, purchase orders, safety documents, product directions and specifications, promotional materials and technical manuals. They may also read trade publications, catalogues, scientific articles and papers, regulations and building codes.

  • Document use

    Landscape horticulturists refer to drawings, photographs, contracts, plans (grading, lighting, irrigation, planting and drainage), tables, regulations and other technical information related to their trade. They may also interpret scaled drawings of landscape designs and detail drawings, and refer to schematics and specifications for various systems. Formats of these documents may be digital or paper.

  • Writing

    Writing skills are used by landscape horticulturists to compose letters or e-mails to clients, contractors and colleagues, and to accurately record information such as safety, maintenance and production information. Landscape horticulturists write reports and articles covering topics such as damaged or diseased trees, shrubs, plants, turfgrass and hardscape elements.

  • Oral Communication

    Oral communication is a very important skill for landscape horticulturists. A substantial amount of communication is done in order to exchange information, instruct, convey knowledge and to coordinate work with others. They talk to clients about plant care, landscape design, maintenance and practices. They speak with other professionals including suppliers, landscape architects, architects and engineers to coordinate projects.

  • Numericy

    Landscape horticulturists use numeracy skills to perform calculations and measurements such as site areas, distance, volumes, product application rates and slope. They also perform calculations related to estimating production schedules, material quantity take-offs, and labour rates. They also calibrate equipment such as spreaders and sprayers. They may calculate financial transactions such as purchasing and sales.

  • Thinking

    Decision-making and critical thinking skills are required to determine how to allocate tasks associated with activities such as plant care, environmental protection, and selection of plant species, products and practices. Planning and organizing skills are used to coordinate and organize tasks with others involved in the process. Landscape horticulturists need to comprehend, interpret and apply safety documentation and regulations. Landscape horticulturists need to be able to problem-solve when performing their work.

  • Digital Technology

    Landscape horticulturists use computers and other digital devices when researching and documenting horticultural information. They may also use applications for communication, word processing, labeling, spreadsheets, databases and global positioning systems (GPS). They may use design, estimating, accounting and inventory software. They may use management software that incorporates electronic time sheets, real-time job data and inventory control. Digital controls may be used for irrigation and lighting systems.

  • Working with others

    Landscape horticulturists coordinate work with others, including supervisors, architects, clients, homeowners, surveyors, engineers, bylaw officers, contractors, landscape architects and other landscape horticulturists. Landscape horticulturists mentor other employees and work collaboratively.

  • Continuous Learning

    Landscape horticulturists are required to stay up-to-date on landscaping and horticultural information and practices. They must be aware of regulatory requirements such as environmental protection and conservation, zoning and bylaws. Landscape horticulturists are governed by the regulatory bodies in the jurisdiction in which they practice. They may be required to participate in professional development through continuous education and maintain their industry-related certifications.

Trends in the Landscape Horticulturist trade

The landscape horticulture industry must continuously adapt to changing trends in education, certification, legislation and the labour market as they relate to safety, environmental stewardship and conservation.

This trade will continue to evolve through the introduction of new products, new technology and horticultural principles to meet the needs of the environment and its clients.

The landscape horticulture industry continues to apply technological advancements to improve its business and workforce skills. Digital devices, satellite technology and production innovation enable improved production, efficiency and quality.

The demand for specialized skilled workers in the trade is growing. Increasingly, consumers and employers are requesting certified landscape horticulturists who are aware of best practices to provide quality products and services. More employers are encouraging the professional development of their employees. The industry is trending from seasonal work to full-time employment opportunities and attracting a more diverse workforce.

As jurisdictional safety and prevention legislation changes, compliance requirements by industry are increasing. Safety awareness and implementation of safe work practices in the industry is evolving to better protect the workforce and the general public. Tools and equipment that produce fewer emissions and reduce noise and vibration are in greater demand.

The work is becoming more intricate because of the complexity of the designs and expanding customer requests for items such as outdoor rooms, organic horticulture and sustainable design. There is an increased focus on water optimization, conservation and protection. The use of native and natural materials and green infrastructure is becoming more prevalent.

Through continuous improvement to technologies, techniques and plant varieties that reduce environmental impact and production costs, the industry is working towards the optimization, conservation, capture and recycling of water. The industry plays a significant role through its products and services in climate change mitigation and adaptation. Issues around stormwater management are significant and benefit from the use of bioswales, retention ponds and other water management systems.

A higher degree of attention is paid to plant health starting at the design phase and through construction and maintenance due to jurisdictional environmental regulations. Growers are growing more pest and disease-resistant varieties of plants. There are changes to pest and disease control measures including legislation that has reduced dependence on chemical use.

The trade promotes and practices environmental consciousness and sustainable development. With an increased global awareness of environmental change, the public is seeking the leadership of the trade to conserve, protect, and enhance ecosystems and living spaces. The result of this environmental awareness is increased collaboration across the industry and stakeholder groups in Canada, to promote the application of environmental best practices.

Industry Expected Performance

All tasks must be performed according to the applicable jurisdictional regulations and standards. All health and safety standards must be respected and observed. Work should be done efficiently and at a high quality, minimizing material waste or environmental damage. At a journeyperson level of performance, all tasks must be done with minimal direction and supervision. Landscape horticulturists should be able to meet the physical demands of the trade. As a journeyperson progresses in their career there is an expectation they will mentor apprentices, continue to upgrade their skills and knowledge and promote continuous learning in their trade.

Language Requirements

It is expected that journeypersons are able to understand and communicate in either English or French, which are Canada's official languages. English or French are the common languages of business as well as languages of instruction in apprenticeship programs.


The CCDA and ESDC wish to express sincere appreciation for the contribution of the many tradespersons, industrial establishments, professional associations, labour organizations, provincial and territorial government departments and agencies, and all others who contributed to this publication.

Special thanks are offered to the following representatives who contributed greatly to the original draft of the standard and provided expert advice throughout its development:

  • Karen Carrier - New Brunswick
  • Jaime Chavez - Manitoba
  • Betty Cunnin - British Colombia
  • Guy Dowhy - Manitoba
  • Jeff Foley - British Colombia
  • Mike Gallant - Prince Edward Island
  • Lorna Hogan - Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Kathryn Hutchison - Alberta
  • Sean James - Ontario
  • Bruce Kay - Alberta
  • Adam Lix - Saskatchewan
  • Darren Loner - Nova Scotia
  • Jeff Morton - Nova Scotia
  • Will O'Reilly - New Brunswick
  • Carine Pattin - Northwest Territories
  • Jim Philip - Ontario
  • Richard Rogers - Canadian Nursery and Landscape Association
  • Heike Stippler - British Colombia
  • Aaron Szuck - Manitoba
  • Terry Warke - Alberta

This standard was prepared by the Apprenticeship and Regulated Occupations Directorate of ESDC. The coordinating, facilitating and processing of this analysis were undertaken by employees of the standards development team of the Trades and Apprenticeship Division and of Ontario, the host jurisdiction for this trade.