Learn biophilic landscaping. Design people friendly gardens, understanding health and environmental benefits of better urban gardens and landscapes.

Course Code: BHT343
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Learn How to Make Gardens that Connect with Nature

Biophilia is the idea that human beings have an innate desire to connect with living things. It is considered that since we evolved alongside the natural world, it became important for us to learn about it to survive. A such, the natural world is considered to have influenced our cognitive and emotional development

These days, many people are detached from nature since cityscapes are often so devoid of plants and animals. This separation is associated with poorer mental and physical health. Biophilic landscaping seeks to redress the balance and help people to reconnect with nature.

Study this course to learn about how to design gardens that appeal to our affinity with nature, and that ultimately promote health and wellbeing. 

Biophilic Landscapes have a primary purpose to be people friendly

  • They accommodate the needs of people
  • Risks to health and wellbeing are minimised
  • Psychological and physical health is supported
  • People are consciously and sub consciously better for having visited those environments

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Relationship between Outdoor Environments and Human Well-being
    • What is Biophilia?
    • Understanding Biophobia
    • Health Problems of Biophilic Design
    • Urban Heat Island Effect
    • Psychological and Physiological Street
    • Breakdown of Ecosystems
    • Environmental Degradation.
    • Health Benefits of Biophilic Design
    • Theories of Stress Recovery -attention restoration, stress recovery
    • The Value of Green Space
    • Terminology -biophilia, biomimicry, cityscapes, urban landscaping, built environment, etc
  2. Design Considerations
    • Evolution of Design Considerations.
    • Not Designing for Use
    • Do not Fail to Involve the Local Community
    • Avoid Isolation from Nature
    • Avoid Poor Accessibility.
    • Connect with Nature
    • Develop a Sense of Place
    • Achieve Long-Term Sustainability
    • Develop Sensory Stimulation
    • Achieve Beneficial User Experience.
    • Practical Considerations - Multidisciplinary Approach, Town Planning, Consideration of Outcomes.
    • Looking at the Future - Further Research, Amendments to National Standards.
  3. Patterns and Principles in Urban Design
    • Introduction.
    • Design Principles.
    • Design Patterns.
    • Terrapin Bright Criteria
    • Nature and Space Patterns
    • Natural Analogue Patterns
    • Nature of the Space Patterns
    • Relationship to Health
    • Application of Patterns
  4. Components of the Landscape
    • Introduction - Biophilic Components.
    • Hard Landscape Components - Surfaces, Stone and Brick, Timber, Metal.
    • Soft Landscape Components - Turf, Plants.
    • The Relationship Between Health and Design Components
    • Direct Experience of Nature -light, air, water, plants, animals, weather, natural landscapes, fire
    • Indirect Experience of Nature -nature images, natural materials, natural colour, information richness, biomimicry, etc
    • Experience of Space and Place -prospect and refuge, organised complexity, transitional spaces, mobility and way finding, etc
    • Some Natural Components in More Detail - Trees, Vegetation, Animals, Water.
    • Water quality issues
  5. Providing Services to People
    • Introduction.
    • Five Principles of Healthy Places
    • Healthy places improve air, water and soil quality
    • Healthy places help overcome health inequalities
    • Healthy places make people feel comfortable
    • Healthy places optimise opportunities
    • Healthy places are restorative
    • Water Harvesting, Retention, and Re-use - Storm water, Rainwater, Urban Runoff, Integrated Urban Water Management.
  6. Affecting the Individual
    • Biophilia in different Environments
    • Environmental stress
    • General Adaptation Syndrome
    • Physiological effects of stress -gastric ulcers, immune system, heart disease
    • Biophilia in the workplace
    • Noise levels
    • Temperature
    • What biophilia can and cannot do
  7. Affecting Environmental and Climatic Conditions
    • Water contaminants
    • Chlorination
    • Microbiological Problems
    • Water quality in aquaria and ponds
    • Legionnaires Disease in Soil and Potting Media
    • Using Plants to Extract Contaminants
    • Growing Plants in Contaminated Soils
    • Biological Filters for polluted and waste water
    • Air Quality
    • Roof and Wall Gardens to Improve Air Quality and Aesthetics
    • Roof Garden accessibility and safety
    • What is a Vertical Garden -advantages and disadvantages
    • Pruning to prevent problems
    • Decorative Plant Supports
    • Temporary Props
    • Types of Roof Garden Installations
    • Types of Wall Gardens
    • Narrow Profile Green lines
    • Plant Selection - considering climate, structure, aesthetics, etc
    • Construction of Roof and Vertical Gardens
    • Sealing with weight, water, leaks, heights, etc
    • Waterproofing
    • Plant damage
    • Plant knowledge -epiphytes, ground covers, etc.
  8. Assessing and Analysing Existing Landscapes
    • Assessing Component Attributes of a biophilic experience
    • Using a checklist
    • Problems of Assessment
    • Measuring Pollutants - air, water, noise
    • Creating Buffer Zones for Pollution.
    • Using Windbreaks, Hedges, Screens
    • Creating Shaded Areas
    • Designing a New Home Garden using Biophilic Design Principles
    • Creating a Natural Approach to Gardening
    • Avoiding Problem Materials
    • Disposing of Waste
    • Work with Nature
    • Simple Design Procedure
  9. Integrating Biophilic Design into Existing Landscape
    • Introduction.
    • Retrofitting Green walls and Roofs.
    • Using hydroponics for a Vertical NFT Wall
    • Redevelopment of Public Institutions - adding biophilic elements
    • Redesign considerations
    • Water Chemistry of Runoff - urban runoff quality, pollutant loadings, etc
    • Improving water runoff and recycling - storm water management, biofiltration
    • Reducing the Use of Pest Control Chemicals in the Garden
    • Natural Pest and Weed Control
    • Biocontrol
  10. Working in/ Improving Urban Development
    • Introduction and Population Growth
    • Challenges for Design - Green walls and Roofs, Permaculture, Hydroponics, Swales for Water Retention, etc.
    • Working in Urban Development -Beatley's Biophilic City Qualities.
    • Case Studies.


  • Discuss the relationship between physiological and psychological health and outdoor environments.
  • Determine the important biophilic factors which should be considered when designing or renovating an outdoor space.
  • Explain different principles and patterns which have been identified as underpinning biophilic landscape design.
  • Describe how different elements of an urban landscape can contribute in a positive way to human wellbeing.
  • Describe how a range of landscaping techniques and methodologies can be utilised to benefit human wellbeing by encouraging use of public spaces.
  • Evaluate the relationship between the health of individuals and different environments, and how biophilic design can be of benefit to wellbeing.
  • Evaluate landscapes and determine actions that can be taken to improve the environmental conditions of people in those places.
  • Understand how to assess and analyse existing landscapes.
  • Redesign a landscape to meet biophilic requirements for a renovation of an existing landscape
  • Create a design to show how an urban (town or city) location may be improved to meet biophilic criteria.


As well as the principles and patterns put forward by biophilic designers, others have contributed to the field of healthy landscapes by outlining broad principles which can be taken on board by anyone seeking to work in this area.   

In their mission statement, the Landscape Institute (LI) in the UK outline five key principles of healthy outdoor spaces, and provide examples of research to support these principles. Their focus is on reducing health problems by increasing publicly available healthy environments. Not only do they suggest that therapeutic gardens be used to help those already afflicted with illness, but building better quality landscapes and green spaces can help minimise rates of illness. As such, the amount of money spent on health care could be reduced and the overall wellbeing of the nation improved. Whilst they don't refer to their policies as biophilic design as such, their focus on improving health through thoughtful design can provide a framework for those interested in the biophilic hypothesis.  

The LI refers to what it calls a 'Settlement Health Map' depicting the relationship between people and the global ecosystem. It demonstrates how health and wellbeing are influenced by their living conditions (lifestyle, community, economy, activities, built environment, natural environment). For example, the local economy and community can affect the choices people make about where they live, work, shop and play. The connections between buildings and natural spaces also affects how people use the landscape e.g. the availability of footpaths or cycling lanes can determine how people move and how much exercise they get when outdoors. They suggest that the environment should be designed to promote human activity and also provide places for passive enjoyment such as relaxation, whilst also highlighting safety, attractiveness and accessibility.  

City landscapes should be designed to encourage social interaction... "People living in urban areas also need easily accessible places where they can interact with nature, so community gardens, allotments and conservation projects are important. Green infrastructure provides a cost-effective way of meeting many of these objectives, while creating attractive green spaces that can also enhance property values and encourage tourism. All of these things benefit the socio-economic status of local populations and contribute to community cohesion and sustainable development, as well as benefitting wellbeing."

The broad, general principles they have outlined are as follows:

  1. Healthy places improve air, water and soil quality, incorporating measures that help us adapt to, and where possible mitigate, climate change
  2. Healthy places help overcome health inequalities and can promote healthy lifestyles
  3. Healthy places make people feel comfortable and at ease, increasing social interaction and reducing anti-social behaviour, isolation and stress
  4. Healthy places optimise opportunities for working, learning and development
  5. Healthy places are restorative, uplifting and healing for both physical and mental health conditions


Benefits of Studying This Course

  • Become proficient in designing gardens and urban landscapes incorporating natural elements.
  • Learn in different ways – online study, practical tasks, watching video.
  • Be guided by professional tutors on your learning journey.
  • Find out about different biophilic principles and how to incorporate them into garden design.
  • Help create better greenspaces for the health and happiness of everyone.
  • Incorporate biophilic design into an existing landscaping business or provide a niche business.
  • Update your skills.

Career Prospects

  • Landscape gardener
  • Garden designer
  • Parks and leisure industry worker
  • Horticulture therapist
  • Town planner
  • Urban designer
  • Landscape architecture


UK Register of Learning Providers, UK PRN10000112

Our principal John Mason is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture

Alternative Technology Association Member

Accredited ACS Global Partner

ACS Distance Education is a member of the Australian Garden Council, Our Principal John Mason is a board member of the Australian Garden Council

Member of the Nursery and Garden Industry Association since 1993

ACS is a silver sponsor of the AIH. The principal, John Mason, is a fellow. ACS certificate students are offered a free membership for this leading professional body.Provider.

Member of the Permaculture Association

Member of Study Gold Coast

College Member of Complementary Medicine Association assessed to teach a range of areas including Counselling, Nutrition, Natural Therapies.

Institute of Training and Occupational Learning (UK)

Principal John Mason is a member of Parks and Leisure Australia since 1974 and a fellow since 1998

Recognised since 1999 by IARC

Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

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