Orna Gilchrist



1.0 Introduction


    1. Aims and Objectives

    1. Practical skills, and professional development.

    1. Time Efficient

    1. Labour saving

    1. Long term control

    1. Integrated control

    1. Proper certification

    1. Conclusion


1.0 Introduction

I applied to the Professional Gardener’s Guild Trust, in March 2012, for funding to complete my Pa1 and Pa6 spraying certificate course.

I requested the sum of £174, and was awarded the full amount. This covered the second half of the course fees, which were £374. The remaining £200 was covered by my ILA fund.

I am currently completing my ‘Historical and Botanical Bursary Scheme’ placement at Cambo Gardens, in Fife. It was highly recommended by the head gardener, and mentor within the scheme, Elliott Forsythe, that I acquire my spraying certificate to increase my employability and professional development.

I completed my training, and testing at Elmwood College, in Cupar, Fife, from the 28th to the 31st of May.


1.1Aims and Objectives



My aim was to gain my spraying qualifications to further enhance my practical skills, and improve my chances of employment.



  • Completion of the Pa1 and Pa6 training.

Completed at Elmwood college: Pesticide three-day training package, plus tests.


1.2 Practical skills and Professional development

I am hoping to work within the amenity or heritage sector, ideally in a small to medium sized garden, with the emphasis on ornamental plantings.

Having my spraying certificate will help me to reach this goal, as it allows me to spray legally within the workplace, to control weed problems (herbicides being the most commonly used chemical in this sector), quickly and easily within the borders, as well as keeping on top of path and drive maintenance.

Weeds are one of the biggest problems within ornamental plantings, and weeding is one of the biggest and most time-consuming tasks in a garden.

Having worked in several different working environments within horticulture the benefits of spraying has become very clear. Below I have bullet pointed the main ones:

  • Time efficient

  • Labour saving

  • Long term control


1.3 Time Efficient

While it would be brilliant if the majority of gardens had the number of staff required to keep on top of weeds by hand, this is unfortunately rarely the case.

Hand weeding is a time consuming task, and in my experience makes up a lot of a gardener’s workload. This is fine in itself, but when you are trying to take care of other tasks at the same time- for example, pricking out seedlings in preparation for annual displays etc- a task, which just can’t wait, then the time it takes to thoroughly weed a bed can seem out of proportion. The time taken to spray a bed however, is minimal.

It can also save time later on in the season. By spraying in spring, and getting on top of perennial weeds before they have had a chance to set seed, means you are greatly reducing your weedbank in the soil, making hand weeding less time consuming in the future.

1.4 Labour saving

As I have said above, weeding is a time consuming job, and one way of getting round this is by putting more bodies on the task. Again this does speed things up, but if it is using the majority of available staff, then there are other jobs going undone.

Spraying takes out the need for manpower, and frees up other staff.

1.5 Long term control

One great advantage of using chemical controls on perennial weeds in particular is that it can completely kill the plant, reducing the risk of it growing back.

This is particularly useful with hard to dig weeds such as couch grass, and bindweed- which, if even a tiny fragment is left in the soil, will re-grow.

1.6 Integrated Control

While spraying is an extremely useful aspect of all pest control, it should be a component of an integrated approach.

A holistic programme of pest control will ensure that biodiversity within the garden is maintained and there should be, therefore, only minimal need for the use of pesticides.

Needless spraying, even of weeds, can harm other life forms, such as beneficial insects that may predate on other garden problems like aphids, and slugs.


1.7 Proper Certification

While many spray operators may still be un-certified, it is now a requirement by law that all spray operators born after 1964, be certified- or under the supervision of someone who is.

While I have sprayed under supervision in previous jobs, it was important to me to get the proper training, such as is provided on the three day training course that I attended.

These courses deal with the legal aspects of spraying, as well as giving you a thorough practical knowledge of spraying itself, and the equipment you will, and should be using and of course, the hugely important health and safety aspects.

1.8 Conclusion

I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to complete my Pa1 and Pa6 training.

Having completed the course, I feel far more confident in both my abilities as a spray operator, and of my grasp of the legal, and practical aspects of this job.

To me, one of the main assets of completing this training was the in depth discussion of the health and safety issues surrounding the activity and how to minimise the potential risks, and spot the potential hazards that are frequently encountered, before, during and after spraying.

I now feel, not only legally qualified to do the task, but also mentally prepared and knowledgeable about, what is, a potentially hazardous job.