Landscape Construction

Learn basic landscape construction skills. Understand landscape tools and uses, how to measure sites, earthworks and construction of surfaces and enclosures. Train for a job, career or professional development in landscaping.

Course Code: BHT111
Fee Code: S3
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Learn Methods Behind Basic Landscape Construction

Landscape construction is concerned with what it takes to build gardens and other landscapes. Since many types of construction in the landscape can be achieved in many different ways, this course serves as an introduction to some of the ways that different surfaces, enclosures and structures can be made.  

Take all the guesswork out of landscape work

This course covers things like what different tools and equipment are required and how they are used, how to measure up sites and develop landscape plans, methods for improving on-site drainage, levelling and earthworks, materials used and principles underlying the construction of garden surfaces, basic garden structures and setting out irrigation.

Apply what you learn

  • Work as a landscape gardener or contractor
  • Start your own landscape business
  • See how gardens are constructed; from forming the levels to planting the plants.
Creating a new garden can be an extremely rewarding experience. Imagine if you could spend every day doing just that; and get paid for it at the same time. Good gardens start with good plans; but it doesn't matter how good the plan might be; if the construction is not of a high standard too.  To become a good landscape builder requires a lot of different skills, and sound knowledge to underpin those skills. Top contractors are always in demand, and have been for hundreds of years. 
  • Start with this course to get your fundamental understanding of how to properly build the landscape
  • Expand your skills through experience, applying what you learn, in your own garden, volunteering or at work.

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Tools and Machinery
    • Manual Handling
    • Materials used for Constructing Tools and Equipment; ferrous metals, non ferrous metals
    • Safety with Electricity
    • Engine Troubleshooting
    • Machine Maintenance
    • Types of Machines
    • Chainsaws: safety, buying, using
    • Brushcutters
    • Earthmoving and Cultivating Equipment; rotary hoes, ploughs, cultivators, etc
    • Workshop and Hand Tools; spanners, chisels, hacksaws etc
    • Hand saws, Rakes, Spades, Shovels, Rollers, Wheelbarrows, Sprayers, etc
  2. Landscape Plans and Setting out a Construction Site
    • Reading Landscape Plans, Scale, etc
    • Understanding and Using Triangulation
    • Slope, Contouring, Grid Systems
  3. Drainage in Landscape Construction
    • Introduction to Drainage
    • Testing Drainage
    • Improving Drainage
    • Improving Soil Water Infiltration
    • Improving Drainage after construction; sand slitting, aerating, sub soiling
    • Sub Surface Drains; types, layout, outlet, gradients, pipe spacing, etc
    • Surface Drainage
    • Soil Testing; testing nutrients, pH, toxins
  4. Earthworks
    • Levelling terminology
    • Levelling Procedure
    • Levelling a Sloping Site
    • Earthmoving
    • Earthmoving Machinery; Bobcat, Backhoe, Dozer
    • Use an Experienced Driver
    • Topsoil Considerations
    • Earth Forming: creating Mounds
    • Building Raised Garden Beds
    • Earth Quantity Calculation
    • Soil Degradation
    • Erosion; water erosion, wind erosion, controlling erosion
    • Soil Acidification Management
    • Managing Soil Compaction
    • Managing Chemical Residues
  5. Surfaces, Paths, Paving and Turf
    • Introduction
    • Surfaces for Play Areas
    • Concrete; concrete, cement, mortar, variations in treatment and use
    • Loose Surfacing Materials: advantages and disadvantages
    • Bark Surfaces, Crushed tiles, pebbles, etc
    • Paths; concrete, asphalt, etc
    • Paving; laying pavers, setting out circular paving, curved paving, edges to paving
    • Lawns and Turf; shape, design, establishment
    • Garden Edges
    • Playing Field Construction
    • Sand Based Technology
    • Constructing Steps
  6. Construction of Garden Structures I
    • Buildings in a Garden; gazebos, verandahs, storage buildings, cubbies, etc
    • Where to build a building
    • Floors and Foundations for Buildings
    • Walls; brick construction, coping, expansion joints, etc
    • Fencing
    • Retaining Walls
    • Wooden Walls
    • Construction with Rock or Masonry; dry walls, wet walls
    • Home Playgrounds
    • Using Timber in the Garden
    • Differences between Softwood and Hardwood
  7. Construction of Garden Structures II
    • Compost Bins
    • Traditional Features: gazebos, statues, gates, arches, sundials, bird baths, urns, tubs, pergolas, pleached alleys, etc
    • Wooden Decks
    • Constructing a Deck
    • Greenhouse and Shadehouse; types, construction, installation
    • Water Features; Waterproofing, keeping water clean
    • Landscaping a pond
    • Tennis Courts
    • Spas
    • Rockery Construction
    • Artificial Rock Formation
    • Mulching Rockeries
    • Garden Furniture
    • Lighting in the Garden
  8. Irrigation Systems
    • Planning an Irrigation System
    • Types of Systems: sprinkler, drip, automatic, etc
    • Using and Maintaining an Irrigation System
  9. Establishing Hedges and Other Plants
    • Factors affecting successful plant establishment
    • Physical Plant Protection Methods
    • Hedges; site preparation, plant selection, spacing, planting, pruning, hedge maintenance
  10. Workplace Safety and Management of Landscape Construction Work
    • Risk Management on a Landscape Construction Site
    • The Risks
    • Keeping a Work Site Safe
    • Duty of CareSignificance of Illness
    • Protective Clothing
    • Safety with Tools and Equipment
    • Safety with electricity and different types of equipment
    • Tool Maintenance

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.

Aims

  • Manage equipment for landscape construction projects, including tools and machinery.
  • Determine earthworks for a landscape development.
  • Plan the construction of different landscape structures including buildings, fences, and walls.
  • Manage the installation of a simple irrigation system in gardens.
  • Determine construction techniques for different building or installing different garden features; including paving, water gardens, rockeries and furnishings.
  • Determine techniques for creating soft landscaping.
  • Manage work being undertaken on a landscape construction site.

What You Will Do

  • Compare the quality and cost of a range of different tools and machinery used in landscape construction.
  • Identify tools and machinery used in everyday work by landscape constractors.
  • Explain appropriate uses for different tools and machinery on a landscape construction site.
  • Prepare landscape plans for a number of landscape sites
  • Research and report on marking out boundaries in construction sites
  • Describe how to locate contours
  • Determine the fall of existing drains, and identify appropriate falls, spacing and depths of drains
  • Observe and report on earth moving equipment in operation
  • Survey a site and recommend earthworks necessary
  • Examine surfacing materials for paths, gardens, etc and determine the appropriate landscaping function of each.
  • Assess the construction of a range of different existing landscape features
  • Describe preparation of foundations for a specified garden structure, on a specific site.
  • Design a rockery at least 30 square metres in area
  • Contact a range of suppliers of landscape materials and compare the products available in your locality.
  • Identify materials needed to install an irrigation system on a site selected by you.
  • Prepare plans of irrigation systems
  • Research which species of plants are suitable for hedging in your locality
  • Outline how to effectively transplant an existing tree
  • Prepare a detailed risk assessment for a landscape construction site
  • Identify safe working practices for a landscape construction site
  • Determine a list of work tasks to be undertaken on a landscape construction site. Give a time frame for completion of the entire project

Landscape Construction work requires many different skills.

This course helps you understand what needs to be done, and how to do many things; but sometimes even professionals might need to employ a concreter, tiler, plumber, electrician, gardener, stone mason, earth moving contractor, or other expert to assist with some aspect of a job.

They’re likely to charge higher rates, but some aspects of a project will be far better served by taking the plunge and spending that money.


Concreting
Most landscape contractors will do a certain amount of concrete work themselves; but for larger or more complex jobs you need at least advice from an expert if:
  • heavy vehicles are going to drive over the concrete
  • it is being built on unstable ground (eg. A steep slope or land fill)
  • you want to include patterns or colour in the concrete
  • it is part of a more significant construction. eg. You are going to build walls on top of the concrete; it is a bridge over a stream or pond

Finding a reliable concreter is not always easy. Ask other people in industry (eg. a professional body) if they can recommend someone. When you find someone, ask if they can provide examples of their work.

Electricians
You can never be too safe when it comes to electricity. You will need an electrician when:
  • you want to install garden lights. Even if you plan to use a low voltage transformer, you may need an electrician to install extra power outside or fit switches that can be operated from inside the house.
  • you want power for the garden shed or gazebo
  • power is required to operate a fountain or pump in a garden pond
  • underwater lighting for ponds, spas, pools, etc
  • spotlights, sensor lights, etc.
Earth Moving
If you have heavy or hard soil, then a rotary hoe is the quick and easy way to loosen it up. Bobcats and modified tractors are used for removing or relocating rocks and tree roots. They also make short work of moving large quantities of soil and will be able to reshape the ground into terraces etc. much faster than you.

Paving
If doing a small paving area, get all the materials delivered at once. Then hire a machine that can move in the sand and pavers, as well as levelling the soil. This will save you much of the hard preparation work. All you will be left with is to finish off the job.

Plumber
If you are going to tap into the potable (drinkable) water supply, you will have to use a licensed plumber. This will be necessary when you are installing major irrigation works or wish to include an additional water tap in the garden.
 
Stone Mason or Brick Layer
Erecting a stone or brick wall is a skilled task. Any wall that is more than one metre in height (especially those used as retaining walls and those alongside footpaths) should be designed and built by a professional.

Plant Knowledge
Being able to construct the non living components of a landscape is essential; but this is only half of the job, when it comes to building a garden. The other half is what is called "soft landscaping". Soft landscaping is planting and establishing the plants.
To do this well, the soil must be appropriate, the plants need to be kept from getting too dry, or wet (in most cases). They may also need protection from extreme weather and pests, until they get established. 



Comment from a Tutor in this Course
“This extremely practical course works as the perfect guide to direct the student through tool selection and use, understanding plans, and preparing a site, to the actual construction of landscape features. It’s compelling study for those with a bent towards construction or those working as landscape gardeners.” - Gavin Cole B.Sc., Psych.Cert., Cert.Garden Design, former Operations Manager for "The Chelsea Gardener" , a highly regarded London Landscaping firm. 


PATHWAYS TO A FUTURE IN LANDSCAPE CONSTRUCTION
There are many different pathways people follow to become a landscape contractor.

  • Some start out as a gardener or labourer, and working alongside someone else are given jobs in garden construction. They learn on the job; but often they come to the realisation that there are serious gaps in their knowledge. That is where this course can be valuable, to help fill those gaps.
  • Others may be trained or experienced working in an associated trade, such as carpentry or masonry. This may lead them to using their skills to help construct features in gardens. Some of the best landscapers have started out this way; and through study and experience, moved from building parts of a landscape to building entire landscapes.
  • Many people begin as a home gardener; developing a passion that grows into a desire to develop a career. Passion and experience are essential and will go a long way toward starting such a career; but without some study as well, the potential for success will never be as great.
  • Of course some will begin their career with a course; and for a career in landscape contracting, this is an excellent place to start.

 

Opportunities After Your Studies

This course is of great value to people wishing to work in landscaping. It will not lead to a construction license but should provide basic skills needed to undertake small scale landscaping projects which do not require council approval.  

It is likely to benefit people who wish to add basic construction to their landscaping and gardening skills. It could serve as a platform for further study or be taken in conjunction with other modules to enhance your learning experience.

People who should take this course are those working in, or wishing to work in:

Landscape construction
Landscape design
Garden maintenance
Garden restoration or conservation
Landscape materials supply

It could also add to the skillset of people wanting to start a landscape business, or be of value to people wishing to renovate a home garden.        

Principal of ACS Distance Education, John Mason, is fellow of the CIH.

ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.

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.


How can I start this course?

You can enrol at anytime and start the course when you are ready. Enrolments are accepted all year - students can commence study at any time. All study is self paced and ACS does not set assignment deadlines.

Please note that if a student is being assisted by someone else (e.g. an employer or government subsidy), the body offering the assistance may set deadlines. Students in such situations are advised to check with their sponsor prior to enrolling. The nominal duration of a course is approximately how long a course takes to complete. A course with a nominal duration of 100 hours is expected to take roughly 100 hours of study time to complete. However, this will vary from student to student. Short courses (eg. 100 hrs duration) should be completed within 12 months of enrolment. Certificates, Advanced Certificates and Awards (eg. over 500 hours duration) would normally be completed within 3 -5 years of enrolment. Additional fees may apply if a student requires an extended period to complete.
If a student cannot submit their assignments for 6 months to ACS, they should advise the school to avoid cancellation of their student
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What do I need to know before I enrol?

There are no entry requirements that you need to meet to enrol in our courses, our courses are for everyone.
If you are under 18, we need written permission from your parent/ guardian for your enrolment to continue, we can arrange that after you have enrolled.

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If you have limited computer skills, we can make special arrangements for you.

This is possible, it depends on the institution. We recommend that if you would like to use our courses that you contact the institution first. Our Course Handbook is a good resource for this.

Our courses are written in English and we only have English speaking academic staff. If you can read and complete your assignments in English, our courses are ideal for you.

Our courses are designed to build knowledge, hands on skills and industry connections to help prepare you to work in the area, running your own business, professional development or as a base for further study.

This course has been designed to cover the fundamentals of the topic. It will take around 100 hours to complete, which includes your course reading, assignment work, research, practical tasks, watching videos and anything else that is contained in the course. Our short courses are a great way to do some professional development or to learn a new skill.

It’s up to you. The study hours listed in the course are a rough guide, however if you were to study a short course (100 hours) at 10 hours per week, you could finish the course in 10 weeks (just an example). Our courses are self-paced, so you can work through the courses in your own time. We recommend that you wait for your tutor to mark and return your assignment before your start your next one, so you get the benefits of their feedback.

The course consists of course notes, videos, set tasks for your practical work, online quizzes, an assignment for each lesson (that you receive feedback from your tutor from) and ends in an exam (which is optional, if would like to receive the formal award at the end), using our custom built Learning Management System - Login.Training.

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We offer printed notes for an additional fee. Also, you can request your course notes on a USB stick for an additional fee.

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Each module (short course) is completed with one exam.

Exams are optional, however you must sit an exam if you would like to receive a formal award. You will need to find someone who can supervise that you are sitting the exams under exams conditions. There is an additional cost of $55 (AUS) $50 (O/S) for each exam.
More information is here

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You can bundle the short courses to create your own customised learning bundle, Certificates or Advanced Certificates. More information is on this page.

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Our courses are not accredited by the Australian Government. However many of our courses are recognised and held in high regard by many industry bodies.

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Course Contributors

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

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.

Martin Powdrill

25 years working in Telecommunications, IT, Organisational Development, and Energy Conservation & Efficiency, prior to setting up his own Permaculture consulting business. Martin has a Bsc (Hons) Applied Science (Resources Option), MSc Computer Studies, P

Jacinda Cole (Horticulturist)

B.Sc., Cert.Garden Design. Landscape Designer, Operations Manager, Consultant, Garden Writer.
She was operations manager for a highly reputable British Landscape firm (The Chelsea Gardener) before starting up her own landscaping firm. She spent three ye





Tutors

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

Rosemary Davies

Originally from Melbourne, Rosemary trained in Horticultural Applied Science at Burnley, a campus of Melbourne University. Initially she worked with Agriculture Victoria as an extension officer, taught horticulture students, worked on radio with ABC radio (clocking up over 24 years as a presenter of garden talkback programs, initially the only woman presenter on gardening in Victoria) and she simultaneously developed a career as a writer.

She then studied Education and Training, teaching TAFE apprentices and developing curriculum for TAFE, before taking up an offer as a full time columnist with the Herald and Weekly Times and its magazine department after a number of years as columnist with the Age. She has worked for a number of companies in writing and publications, PR community education and management and has led several tours to Europe.

Jacinda Cole

Jacinda has expertise in psychology and horticulture. She holds a BSc (hons) in Psychology and a Masters in Psychology (Clinical) and also trained in psychoanalytic psychotherapy at the London Centre for Psychotherapy. In horticulture she has a Certificate in Garden Design and ran her own landscaping and garden design business for a number of years. Jacinda also has many years experience in course development and educational writing.

Yvonne Sharpe

Over 30 years of experience in horticulture, education and management, Yvonne has travelled widely within and beyond Europe, and has worked in many areas of horticulture from garden centres to horticultural therapy. She has served on industry committees and been actively involved with amateur garden clubs for decades.

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