Biophilic Landscaping

Learn to create people friendly landscapes - gardens, parks, streetscapes, cityscapes and more - 100 hour online course.

Course Code: BHT343
Fee Code: S3
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Design Gardens to be "People Friendly"

Evaluate a how a landscape impacts upon the physical and mental wellbeing of people who exist in that landscape; and determine how the landscape can be made more biophilic or people friendly.

This is an important course for not only landscapers, but also professionals with a concern for health or the environment, from architects and planners to health service providers, engineers and builders.

This course compliments anyone working with:

  • Landscape design or construction
  • Horticultural therapy
  • Green walls and roofs
  • Parks management
  • Street tree management
  • Environmental management
  • Health, Construction, and a whole lot more

Biophilic design incorporates our need to be with nature by using natural elements and systems in the design of the built environment. The underlying principle is that the inclusion of nature in both man made landscapes and buildings has a significant impact on our health and well being. Biophilic design is more than simply using plants everywhere because it engages natural systems and processes.

With ever increasing knowledge of the environment and possible ways of creating more biophilic landscapes, our capacity to achieve better places grows, and our focus on how to achieve them is maturing. 

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.

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • 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.

Research tells us is that environmental stimuli are only potential stressors. They don't actually cause anyone to experience stress, until that person perceives them to be stressful.  So, when planning a biophilic landscape, you should consider that it is not necessary to remove all potential stressors but to allow for means of coping with them. If you are designing a roof top garden in the middle of a city, you can't get rid of all the noise from traffic below but you may be able to dampen the noise with screening of dense shrubs or mask the noise with a pleasant alternative like trickling water from a fountain.  

Another environmental factor is accidents. Accidents are often included in what are termed 'contingency stressors' because although they take place in the environment they are not normal aspects of it. Trauma caused by accidents can contribute to an individual's stress response. Whilst it is not possible to predict accidents, it is possible to think about ways to alter the outdoor environment to minimise risk.  

What Can't Biophilic Design Do?

The environment does affect health and wellbeing. Of course, there are other contributors to health and wellbeing which adjustments to the environment are not going to change. For instance, social factors can also elevate stress and illness. Chief amongst these are location, socioeconomic status, availability of local health services, education, and so forth. Also, a person's health is influenced by their life choices.  This includes what people ingest - medication, illicit drugs, caffeine, alcohol, and diet. It also includes their exercise levels, amount of sleep, age and gender. The individual's coping mechanisms and social support networks are also implicated. For example someone who drinks alcohol, takes drugs, smokes cigarettes, or overeats to combat frustration or stress is making a poor life choice. 

A beneficial environment is therefore just one aspect of how our health can be influenced. In most cases health problems are likely to be caused by the cumulative effects of different contributors. But, an environment which promotes positive feelings and helps us to reconnect with nature can go some way to reducing the impact of other negative influences on our wellbeing. 

Develop More People Friendly Landscapes:

  • Home Gardens
  • Urban streetscapes
  • Parks
  • Cityscapes
  • Industrial landscapes
  • Rural landscapes
  • Shopping Centres
  • or anywhere else.
ACS Distance Education holds an Educational Membership with the ATA.
ACS Distance Education holds an Educational Membership with the ATA.
ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
Member Nursery and Garden Industry Association.
Member Nursery and Garden Industry Association.
Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.
Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.
ACS is a Member of the Permaculture Association (membership number 14088).
ACS is a Member of the Permaculture Association (membership number 14088).
ACS is a Silver Sponsor of the AIH; and students studying designated courses are given free student membership. ACS and it's principal have had an association with AIH since the 1980's
ACS is a Silver Sponsor of the AIH; and students studying designated courses are given free student membership. ACS and it's principal have had an association with AIH since the 1980's

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