Excellent starter course for people wanting to work in landscaping -teaches you how to draw landscape plans, gardens, public and commercial open spaces.

Course Code: BHT109
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Discover How to Create Gardens

We are all familiar with gardens and other manmade landscapes, but many people do not have the knowledge to fully understand how to create the different components of these different landscapes. As well as choosing appropriate plants to meet the local climate and soil conditions landscaping is concerned with design and construction. 

Learn the fundamentals of landscape design

The ability to draw a landscape plan can be a valuable skill whether as your full time job, or a supplement to your other employment.
Comment from one of our students:
"I thought the course was well designed with relevant course modules and information. My tutor's comments were helpful and encouraging. I am considering what course to do next - so that is a good sign that I am very happy with all aspects of the school." (Patrick, Landscaping I)


Reasons to study this course

  • Some people who work in garden centres have done this course. Nurserymen value sales staff who can design a garden; as such staff can better advise customers, and perhaps offer an additional saleable service.
  • Some garden contractors have chosen this course so they can offer an additional service to complement existing service
  • Some people who work in an architects office, engineering or town planning department or property development company choose this course so they can create necessary landscape plans in house, rather than out sourcing the work.
  • Some landscape contractors have done this course to enable them to present ideas better to clients and prepare proper contract documentation for jobs they undertake
  • Some people have pursued this course as a step toward setting up a small part time business (either to supplement other work; or to take a step toward moving onto a new career path).

Is this you?

Take this Course

Want to draw plans but have limited time to study

Landscaping I

Can draw a plan but want to broaden the scope of garden types you design

Garden Styles

Want to train as a serious garden designer, but cannot afford more than 10 hrs a week to study.

Certificate in Garden Design

Want to both design and build gardens

Certificate in Horticulture -Landscape & Garden Design

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Basic Design Procedure A
    • Scope of Landscaping
    • Dynamic Nature of Gardens
    • Plant Naming
    • Plant Identification and Selection
    • Botanical Families; a basis for identification
    • Principles of Landscaping
    • Design Elements
    • Design Effects
    • Climate, Microclimate and Aspect
    • Collecting pre-planning information
  2. History of Gardening
    • Formal Gardens
    • Informal Gardens
    • Natural Gardens
    • Cottage Gardens
    • Other garden styles and themes, oriental, mediterranean, etc
    • Potted History of Gardens: Roman, Chinese, Dark Ages, Le Notre, Brown, Jeckyll, etc
  3. Draughting and Contracting
    • Concept Plans
    • Scale Drawing
    • Presentation Plan
    • Computer Aided Design
    • Drawing techniques (Graphics)
    • Design Procedure
    • Specifications and Contracts
  4. Basic Landscape Construction
    • Drainage and Erosion
    • Gradients
    • Walling
    • Rockeries
    • Steps
    • Creating Mounds
    • Earth Shaping
    • Playstructures
    • Gravel and Paths
  5. Surfacings
    • Gradients
    • Surfacings
    • Gravel
    • Soft Surfacing
    • Grass
    • Concrete
    • Asphalt
    • Timber
    • Paving
    • Rubbers and Textiles
    • Substrates
    • Performance Considerations
  6. Furnishings and Features
    • Criteria for selecting Structural Components
    • Garden Furniture and Garden Rooms
    • Using Furniture in the Garden
    • Outdoor Tables and Chairs
    • Garden Art; types, selection, use
    • Lighting
    • Design considerations for Play Structures
    • Water Displays and Fountains
    • Skate Facilities
  7. Park Design A
    • Park Components
    • Ornaments
    • Walls, Fences and Windbreaks
    • Enclosed Gardens
    • Gates and Gateways
    • Windbreaks
    • Recreational Landscaping
    • Criteria for Public Outdoor Space Design
    • Why Parks are Under used
    • Types of Playgrounds
    • Making Community Participation Work
  8. Home Garden Design
    • Components of a Home Garden
    • Where Garden Meets House
    • Bringing the Outside In
    • Buildings in a Home Garden
    • Courtyards
  9. Design Procedure B
    • The Design Process
    • Design Elements
    • Components of a Recreational Landscape
    • Designing Narrow Gardens
    • Water Garden Design
    • Water Effects: sound, reflection, movement, light, cooling
    • Using Water Plants
    • Formal and Informal Pools
  10. Park Design B
    • Creating Trails
    • Planning a Trail
    • Types of Trails: Fitness, Nature, Sensory, Cryptic Puzzle, etc
    • Sporting Facilities
    • Outdoor Courts
    • Fun and Fitness Trails
    • Motor Vehicles in Parks
    • Plus A Special Assignment - comprehensive landscape


  • Create visual effects through the use of different landscape design concepts.
  • Determine pre-planning information required to prepare a landscape design.
  • Determine an appropriate garden style for a landscape, to satisfy specifications for a design project.
  • Illustrate a landscape design through a plan, using legible graphic skills.
  • Determine different hard landscape features, including earthworks, surface treatments and furniture, to incorporate in a landscape.
  • Prepare planting designs for different landscapes.
  • Design different types of landscapes, including domestic gardens and public parks

What You Will Do

  • Explain the complete range of principles, elements and concepts used in landscape design.
  • Visit and analyse a broad range of landscape styles, themes and components.
  • Perform methods utilised to develop concepts and to create affects.
  • Identify, record and utilise pre-planning information for the purpose of design development, and to use a checklist as a guide for surveying a site for a proposed design.
  • Perform site survey and client interview with the site owner/manager.
  • Explain the significance of effective client liaison, in a specific landscape job.
  • Identify historical influences on landscaping in your locality.
  • Explain the influence on modern garden design, of work by three garden designers who have been prominent in world garden history.
  • Develop and compare the appropriateness of three design options for one specific landscape project.
  • Draw an extensive range of different landscape symbols on paper, covering soft and hard landscape features.
  • Transpose two different landscape drawings, reducing the scale by a specified amount.
  • Draw a plan for a landscape, using legible graphic techniques.
  • Determine site preparations required for a specified landscape site, including:
    • clearing/cleaning
    • earthworks.
  • Explain the legal requirements for cleaning up after a job in your locality.
  • Determine suitable timbers for construction of four different types of garden structures.
  • Compare the suitability of different materials for surfacing paths, including:
    • Asphalt
    • Concrete
    • Local gravels
    • Local mulches
    • Timber
    • Ceramics.
  • Collect, catalogue and determine appropriate use for different items of garden furniture.
  • Design a paved area for a garden surveyed, including: scale drawings and construction instructions.
  • Prepare a resource directory/collection of different plants incorporating:
  • Illustrations of plant, Scientific and common plant names & Cultural details
  • How to use each of these plants in different landscape situations uses.
  • Evaluate established landscapes based in:
    • Costs
    • Maintenance
    • Function
    • Aesthetics
  • Develop detailed planting designs, including plant lists, for three landscape plans, to satisfy given job specifications.
  • Analyse and compare the landscape designs of numerous selected homes and public parks.
  • Develop and prepare concept plans for landscape areas such as:
    • Outdoor living area
    • Kitchen garden
    • Courtyard
    • Childrens playground
    • Entry to home
    • Neighbourhood park
  • Draft a series of conceptual plans, showing stages in the design of a home garden you surveyed.
  • Prepare a professional standard landscape design for a client in your, including:
    • A landscape plan drawn on tracing paper.
    • Materials specifications, including types and quantities.
    • Budget details.

Do You Know what an Eclectic Garden is?

Eclectic gardens tend to be "quirky", a mix of "styles"; rather than being a clean fit into any established type of garden
Traditionally, landscape gardeners tend to adhere to one style or theme. Eclectic gardeners, by contrast, tend to enjoy many different styles of gardening. Using a creative approach, they take their inspirations from all the garden traditions, combining plants, garden accessories and outdoor artworks to create distinctive and highly individual landscapes.

In many cases eclectic gardeners are plant collectors, seeking out bold and unusual plants, each chosen for its shape and form and displayed to its best advantage. For others, the plants are merely part of an overall effect, a backdrop for the other elements of the garden.

Regardless of their approach to plants, traits that all eclectic gardeners share are imagination and flair, and a willingness to step outside the boundaries of conventional gardening.

Making the eclectic garden work
In the traditional garden, which relies on one style or theme, plants, ornaments and other landscape features are chosen to complement the overall garden style. This creates a sense of harmony or uniformity. Occasional contrasts in texture or colour are used to make a feature stand out, but overall, the bulk of the garden adheres to the single identifiable concept and style.

An eclectic garden is quite different, combining styles as seemingly disparate as cottage and formal, or Mediterranean with native bush gardens. The trick is to combine the components carefully and not to go overboard with excessive contrasts. Excessive contrasts may end up as confusing, jumbled mess, so that no one feature stands out.

One of the best ways to combine different styles into an eclectic garden is to use a single species of plant to tie them together. For example, a hedge such as Murraya paniculatum or Buxus sempervirens can be used in two different areas of the garden that exhibit different styles, forming a visual link between the areas.

Garden accessories and outdoor works of art tend to be informal – but not always. Interesting ornaments such as gargoyles, statues and water pumps are used as focal points and because the garden rarely has a major theme they can be combined in surprising and unusual ways. However, if several items are displayed in a small area, it’s best to choose them with at least some unifying elements, such as similar colours, shapes or construction materials.

The choice of garden artworks is vast, ranging from one-off metal and stone sculptures to mass-produced garden centre ornaments to bits of junk displayed in creative and ingenious ways. Sentiment often plays an important role in the eclectic garden – broken shards from grandma’s dinner set become a quirky garden mosaic, while an old bedhead and frame, lovingly restored after the last child has left home, finds a second use as a support for climbing vegies.

Eclectic gardening encourages the creative side to our personalities. A house is often called our own personal fortress or paradise and the creation of an eclectic garden allows home owners to express links to nature, to objects and to themselves.


When you finish this course, you will have a very broad understanding of landscaping. You will be able to evaluate a site, conceive a design and draw a plan for developing a landscape on that site. You will have insights into public, commercial and residential landscaping.

Your awareness and understanding of landscapes will have grown significantly and the way you look at gardens, parks playgrounds and commercial landscapes will be different.

This course will lay a foundation upon which you can build your experience, further study, or informal learning about landscaping, for years that follow.

 Some will use this as a starting point for a career in landscaping, or some related field of endevour. Others will use this course to supplement a career path they are already moving along.

UK Register of Learning Providers, UK PRN10000112

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

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 Study Gold Coast

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.

Gavin Cole (Horticulturist)

Gavin started his career studying building and construction in the early 80's. Those experiences have provided a very solid foundation for his later work in landscaping. In 1988 he completed a B.Sc. and a few years later a Certificate in Garden Design. I

Maggi Brown

Maggi is the classic UK "plantswoman". She can identify thousands of plants, and maintains her own homes and gardens in the Cotswolds (England), and near Beziers (in Southern France). Maggi is regarded as a leading organics expert across the UK, having w

John Mason (Horticulturist)

Parks Manager, Nurseryman, Landscape Designer, Garden Writer and Consultant.
Over 40 years experience; working in Victoria, Queensland and the UK.
He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world; author of more than 70 books and edito

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