Learn about the characteristics of different metals and other materials, so you can make better choices about what to use where in construction.

Course Code: VSS202
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Find Out What You Can Do in Gardens Using Different Materials

Understanding different materials and how they can be used is a valuable skill to have. Regardless of whether materials what materials are used for, it’s important to understand their properties to make the best use of them. 

Besides the more obvious timber, brick and stone, all sorts of materials can be used in gardens and landscaping situations. These include plastics, ceramics, resins, glass, rubber, and various metals.  

These materials can be used for containers, structures, water features, garden ornaments, or other components. Study this course to learn how they can be used to make things, and what to expect from these materials in terms of cutting, shaping, joining, durability, and finishes.   

Learn about the characteristics of different metals and other materials, so you can make better choices about what to use where in construction.

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Properties & Classification of Materials
    • Properties of Materials
    • Mechanical Properties
    • Thermal Properties
    • Electrical Properties
    • Environmental Properties
    • Manufacturing Properties
    • Economic Properties
    • Classification of Materials
    • Metals
    • Ceramics
    • Polymers
    • Composites
    • Minerals
    • Silicates
    • Non Silicate Minerals
  2. Metals and Their Uses
    • Ferrous Materials -pig iron, wrought iron, grey iron etc
    • Non Ferrous Metals
    • Aluminium
    • Copper
    • Lead
    • Zinc
    • Tin
    • Nickel
    • Rare Earth Elements
    • Lanthanides
    • Properties and Uses of Rare Earth Elements
    • Other Metals -Titanium, Gold, Silver, Chromium, Tungsten, Antimony
  3. Metal Alloys and Their Uses
    • Malleability
    • Ductility
    • Strength
    • Benefits of Alloys
    • Ferrous Alloys
    • Cast Irons
    • Steels
    • Steel Grading
    • Non Ferrous Alloys: White metal, Nickel-Silver, etc
    • Tin Alloys
    • Copper Alloys
    • Aluminium Alloys
    • Titanium Alloys
    • Titanium, Gold and Silver Alloys
    • Rare Earth Alloys
  4. Working with Metals
    • Metal work
    • Gauges/Sizing
    • Grades
    • Bulk Forming - forging, rolling extrusion, cold sizing, bending, coining, spinning, stamping etc.
    • Casting Metals - expandable and non expandable
    • Cutting Metals - machining, hand cutting, burning
    • Finishing
    • Joining Metals - soldering, welding, brazing, riveting
  5. Non-metals and Their Uses
    • Porcelain
    • Earthenware
    • Glass
    • Brick
    • Polymers
    • Plastics
    • Plant Fibres
    • Resins
    • Rubber
    • Composites - concrete, ceramic matrix composites, weed composites, metal matrix composites
    • Polymer Matrix Composites - fibreglass, carbon fibre
  6. Working with Ceramics (and Glass)
    • Making Pottery
    • Kneading and wedging
    • Shaping - hand building, using a potters wheel, injection moulding, jiggering, jolleying etc
    • Glazing - vitreous enamel, overglaze, underglaze, salt glazing
    • Decorating
    • Firing
    • Making Glass - hot end, cold end etc
    • Glass Sheet
    • Working with Glass - Cutting, fixing, joining, blowing
  7. Working with Polymers & Composites
    • Synthetic Polymers
    • Plastic manufacturing
    • Joining Plastics
    • Plastic welding techniques
    • Polymer Clay
    • Natural Polymers -working rubber
    • Composites - working fibreglass
  8. Safe and Sustainable Handling of Materials
    • Safe Use of Materials
    • Case Studies
    • Sustainable Use of Materials
    • Recycling
    • Major PBL Project

Benefits of Studying This Course

  • Become proficient in choosing materials for landscaping projects.
  • Learn about a range of different materials and their possible uses.
  • Add to your garden design and landscaping skills.
  • Use what you learn here to expand your employment possibilities or incorporate it into your own niche business.

Career Opportunities

  • Landscape gardener
  • Garden designer
  • Builder
  • Tradesperson
  • Self-employment
  • Small business

Course Contributors

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


Meet some of the tutors that guide the students through this course.

Alexander O'Brien

Alex was born and raised in Cork, in the Republic of Ireland. Having been trained in Architecture, Permaculture, Mechanical Engineering, Ceramics, Furniture Design/Construction, Sustainable building and Art,Craft and Design, his knowledge base is broad. Much of his professional work has been designing and making nature inspired spaces, creative reuse of materials, permaculture and natural ecology regeneration.

That being said, in his own words, " real passion is teaching. I adore sharing my knowledge and experience. Seeing students progress, and learning, that is my soul food."'

Gaynor Hartley

Dip.Hort.Sc., Cert.Tiss.Cult., MAIH

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