Director Tim Fell took the first of four hour-long modules in the online course this week. The HTA says the course aims to "provide landscapers, gardeners, designers and groundskeepers with the knowledge to plan, build, establish and maintain grounds, landscapes and sites in ways that conserve water and manage it sustainably".
A collaboration between eight water companies and seven amenity horticulture bodies, the course was prompted by the 2012 drought.
Fell said: "It’s a really useful course and it makes you think about the issues surrounding water use in the landscape."
He said those who took the course would be better equipped to offer a more professional service to their customers and would be in a better position the next time a drought resulted in a temporary use ban, not least because they can demonstrate a knowledgeable and responsible approach to water use to Defra and water utilities.
"With luck an initiative like this will stimulate others to do the same. A big uptake of the course would provide a powerful message to Defra and the water companies that landscapers and sports ground managers mean business and want to make a difference as far as water usage is concerned."
Tillers Turf will select the recipients of the course funding on a first come first served basis after emailing its client list.
Fell added: "Apart from the water conservation message it’s a useful exercise in client service. Talking to clients along the lines suggested in the course promotes an image of professionalism and shows that the contractor has thought about maintenance issues after completion of the project.
"From a turf user point of view the course identifies best practice when installing and maintaining turf and, again, lifts the professionalism that we are trying to engender."
APL/HTA learning and careers manager, Penny Evans said that the horticulture industry was grasping the challenge to support employers to up-skill their staff in a cost-effective and accessible way."