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Cerificate in Garden Design



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Learn to Design Gardens

Good garden design is a mixture of learnt practical skills, an awareness of form and space, knowledge of what can be achieved with particular plants and materials, and some natural talent.  If you want to be successful as a designer the hard work starts here.  

Learn about the basics of design from developing an understanding of principles like proportion, repetition, contrast and harmony through to different styles of garden. Nurture your knowledge of plants and their needs so you can recognise the significance of positioning in the landscape. Find out how to go from gathering site information to producing drawn designs and estimating costs.   


What the Course Covers

Thirty lessons as follows:

1. Introduction to Landscaping

  • Scope, Nature and Principles of Landscaping
  • The Design Elements
  • How to Create Effects
  • Using Space, Colour, Light
  • Plant Selection
  • Collecting Pre Planning Information
  • Healthy Gardens

2. Plant Identification

  • Plant Classification and Taxonomic Hierarchy
  • Botanical Classification: Phyla, Classes, Families, Genus, Species, Hybrids, Cultivars
  • Differentiating important Ornamental Plant Families: A basis for learning plant names
  • Plant Culture - Pruning, Weeds, Plant Problems
  • Garden Renovation: Methodology and Tasks

3. History of Gardening

  • Formal, Informal and Natural Gardens
  • Garden Styles
  • Japanese Gardens
  • Naturalistic, Eclectic, Permaculture, Minimalist Gardens
  • Gardens through Time, Ancient Middle Eastern, Chinese, Roman, Spanish, Monastery, Elizabethan, etc
  • Recent Influences ; Le Notre, Rose, Brown, Kent, Jekyll, Burle Marx, etc
  • Some Modern Trends; Bush Gardens, Permaculture Gardens

4. Drawing Plans

  • Elements of a drawn garden
  • Scale
  • What to Draw With
  • Landscape Symbols
  • Design Procedures
  • Drawing a Plan by hand
  • Introducing Computer Aided Design

5. Soils and Nutrition

  • Importance of Soil
  • Soil Composition, texture, horizons
  • Identifying Different Soils
  • Improving Soils
  • Sources for Landscaping Materials

6. Understanding the Environment

  • Ecological Concepts
  • The Ecosystem –abiotic and biotic components
  • Environmental influences on soil production
  • Types of Australian Flora; Indo Melanesian, Antarctic, Australian Sclerophyl
  • Review of Australian Plant Families

7. Earthworks and Surveying

  • Moving and settling soil
  • Soil Degradation: Erosion, Compaction, Chemical Contamination
  • Basic Surveying and Triangulation
  • Slopes and Leveling
  • Earthworks Calculations
  • Using Triangles
  • Horizontal Measurements and Angles

8. Basic Landscape Construction

  • Specifications and Contracts
  • Drainage and Erosion
  • Walls, Rockery Construction, Steps
  • Playground Options
  • Making Stable Mounds

9. Surfacing

  • Gradients
  • Surface Materials; gravel, mulch, lawn etc
  • Different Materials : Concrete, Gravel, Asphalt, Stone, Gravels, Lawn
  • Pavers and Paving
  • Coloured Surfaces
  • Artificial Sports Surfaces
  • Substrates
  • Comparing Performance of Surfaces

10. Garden Structures

  • Understanding and Designing Garden Rooms
  • Furnishing a Garden Room
  • Sculpture
  • Walls
  • Mirrors
  • Water
  • Fountains and Water Displays
  • Feature Pots; Container Plants
  • Layout Problems with Garden Structures
  • Motorised Vehicle Parks
  • Skate Facilities
  • Outdoor Furniture

11. Park Design

  • User Friendly Gardens, seating, shelter, fragrant plants, etc
  • Recreational Landscaping
  • Park Design Criteria
  • Playgrounds
  • Making Community Participation Work

 12. Home Garden Design

  • The Entrance
  • Designing a Front Garden
  • Achieving Appropriate Scale in a Design
  • Techniques to maintain scale
  • Creating space in small gardens
  • Garden Features for small gardens
  • Outdoor Living Areas; patios, seating, garden structures, etc
  • Pool Areas, Fencing and other BarriersFences

13. Costing and Specifications

  • Buying Plants; what to look for
  • Cost of Garden Maintenance
  • Expensive Areas in Gardens; lawns, containers, annuals, vegetables
  • Less Expensive to Maintain areas; shrubberies, paving, natural bush areas
  • Costing Jobs
  • The Market for Landscape Contractors; government sector, developers, commercial sector, private sector

14. Trail Design and Sporting Facilities

  •     Paths
  •     Advantages and disadvantages of gravel and bark paths
  •     Planting in Paving
  •     Trails
  •     Designing a Trail
  •     Trail Types; environmental, fun and fitness, sensory, cryptic
  •     Design of Sporting Facilities; slope, gradient, dimensions
  •     Sports Courts

15. Tools and Machinery

  •     Choosing the right tools
  •     Manual Tools and Equipment: Rakes, Spades and Shovels, Wheelbarrows, Rollers
  •     Spray Equipment
  •     Tool Maintenance
  •     Manual Handling
  •     Power Tools - Chain Saws, Mulchers, Cultivators
  •     Safety and Maintenance with Power Tools
  •     Tractors and tractor mounted equipment
  •     Buying equipment

16. Plant Establishment Techniques

  •     Timing
  •     Soil preparation
  •     Plant and pot size
  •     Planting technique
  •     Establishing Trees
  •     Physical Plant Protection; staking, frost protection, protecting from animals, etc

17. Ponds and Pools

  •     Types of Ponds; formal, informal
  •     Position, water quality, depth etc.
  •     Water effects
  •     Finishing Touches
  •     Planning a Water Garden
  •     Alternative Types of construction
  •     Aesthetic Affects
  •     Plants for Water Gardens; oxygenating plants, deep water plants, edge plants etc.

18. Rockwork and Masonry

  •     Constructing rock walls
  •     Dry Stone or Wet Walls
  •     Retaining Walls
  •     Concrete; mixing, reinforcing, rodding, etc
  •     Rockery Construction
  •     Creating Artificial Rocks
  •     Coloured Pebbles and Gravel

19. Lawn Construction Techniques

  •     Common Turf varieties
  •     Selecting Turf for lawns; what to grow where
  •     Wild Flower Meadows
  •     Turf Establishment
  •     Soil Preparation, seeding, sodding, stolonising, plugging, etc
  •     Mowing and Fertilising Turf

20. Irrigation Design and Installation

  •     Planning an irrigation system
  •     Micro irrigation
  •     Sprinkler irrigation
  •     Using a watering system
  •     Automated Systems
  •     Maintenance of Irrigation Systems

21. Wild Garden Design

  •     Scope and Nature
  •     Birds in a Garden; attracting, feeding, etc

22. Cottage Garden Design

  •     Scope and Nature
  •     Components
  •     Paths and Fences in a Cottage Garden

23. Playground Design

  •     Planning for Play
  •     Playing at Home
  •     Play Equipment; sand pit, cubbies, swings etc

24. Garden Bed Design

  •     Making Garden Beds; size, shape, edges, topography, soil, surfacing, irrigation,
  •     Raised Beds
  •     Sunken Beds
  •     No Dig Beds
  •     Plant Application; trees, shrubs, ground cover
  •     Aesthetic Criteria in Garden Bed Design , line, form, texture, colour, balance, repetition, etc
  •     Procedure for Planting Design

25. Management

  •     Scope and nature of Office Work
  •     Office equipment; selection and use
  •     Information Technology
  •     Business Letters
  •     The Law and Business
  •     Work Scheduling

26. Land Rehabilitation

  •     Soil Degradation
  •     Earth Works Different types of equipment (Cat, Rotary Hoe, Dozer, etc)
  •     Importing or Improving Soil
  •     Plant Establishing Techniques (pocket planting, slope serration, wattling, etc)
  •     Planting Arid Sites

27. Drainage

  •     Scope and Nature of Drainage
  •     Sub Surface or Surface Drainage
  •     Types of Sub Surface Drains
  •     Water Outlet

28. Maintenance

  •     Maintenance Decisions
  •     Making Compromises between costs and garden style
  •     Construction decisions
  •     Design for minimising pests
  •     Using Timber in a Garden
  •     Choosing a Timber
  •     Managing Termites
  •     Wood Preservatives
  •     Keeping a Garden Clean
  •     Garden Maintenance Equipment
  •     Designing for Low Maintenance
  •     Review of Garden Pests and Diseases

29. Dealing with Clients

  •     Communication Skills
  •     Awareness
  •     Reactive Patterns
  •     Understanding Communication Processes
  •     Introduction to Marketing
  •     Making Contact with potential clients, communicating, then convincing
  •     Writing an advertisement or promotion
  •     Effective Selling
  •     Cost and Clients
  •     Garden Investments

30. Major Garden Design Project



Study when, where and however much you want. For most students, the course can be completed with a total of around 600 hours of study; and a commitment close to that may be needed to achieve desired learning outcomes.

Extra Reading

The following books, available through this web site are relevant supplementary reading for this course

  • Garden Design I
  • Garden Design II
  • Starting a Garden or Landscape Business
  • Trees and Shrubs
  • Gardening in the Shade
  • Tropical Landscaping
  • Water Gardening


Self Assessment Tests are presented throughout the course. These are essentially an automated quiz. When you undertake a "SAT" or "Self Assessment Test", you will be able to see what you got correct, and what was incorrect; and in that way, you can identify your weaknesses.

Assignments are given at the end of each lesson. You should complete this assignment, paying careful attention to follow what is asked of you. It can be just as important to learn to work to specification, as it is to learn about the topic you are studying. Graduates who develop a habit of working to specification in the field of human behaviour, will impress employers, and will be more efficient when self employed.

A Final Exam is offered upon satisfactory completion of all assignments. This is optional. If you choose to apply for and do this exam, you will have the possibility of obtaining a "formal credit" or "Pass Certification" for this course. A fee applies. The exam may be sat under prearranged conditions anywhere in the world. This college will award you a formal transcript, upon successful completion of the exam, as proof of your results.

Recognition and Ethics

This college is a member of the ACS Affiliates Network; a group of colleges from several countries, affiliated with each other through ACS Distance Education.. Courses are developed with input from all of these colleges, aspiring to reflect internationally accepted standards and needs.

A strict "No Plagiarism" and "No fraud" policy exists. Assignments are checked for plagiarism, and assignments will not be deemed to have been completed, if work is not your own original creation, and is found to have been copied from elsewhere. If the person doing the course is discovered to be different to the name enrolled, the enrolment and any results will be recorded as invalid and any fees paid will be forfeited.

Refund Policy

A full refund less expenses (up to 15% of fees applied) is provided to anyone wishing to withdraw from a course, within 2 weeks of enrolment. This does not apply after the first assignment has been submitted and marked; or after the two weeks has expired.


We believe that we have an ethical responsibility to make good use of the fees you pay and the time you invest into an education through our college. To this end, our first priority is always your learning. This comes before issues such as formal accreditations, speculative marketing and bureaucratic processes which all too often add considerable costs to the running of colleges, and take resources away from the provision of more valuable services to the student.

This college focuses on facilitating your learning and support to optimise that learning. We recognise that learning is all about improving knowledge and skills in your long term memory. While some colleges may focus on getting you to pass exams, by committing knowledge to short term memory; we understand that such an approach is not true education, and does little to improve your long term career or business prospects.


How This Course Could Help You

Use this course to help you start your own garden design practice, or to help you find employment and experience to build a career in the landscape industry.

This course will provide up to date knowledge and skills in how to design and create gardens. 


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Cerificate in Garden Design Cerificate in Garden Design
$2,980.00 In stock