Landscaping I

This course is the ultimate introduction to landscaping. Learn the essential skills and knowledge which underpin landscaping in this comprehensive online course. Understand the use of hard and soft elements.

Course CodeBHT109
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

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Build a Foundation in Soft & Hard Landscaping

The garden landscape incorporates both soft and hard features. Soft landscaping is concerned with trees, shrubs, lawns, and living components. Hard landscaping is concerned with the solid features such as paths, paving, walls and structures. Most competent landscapers and gardeners have an understanding of both soft and hard landscaping.

Learn to think like a garden designer

Take this course to find out about recording pre-planning information on site, how some different garden styles are created, how to make landscape drawings, what goes into making walls and hard landscape surfaces, how to add garden features to designs, how to make small spaces seem larger, lending from the surrounding landscape, and how to design small and large landscapes.

A first step toward being a Professional Landscaper

  • Learn from a team of professional landscape designers in both Australia and the UK
  • Learn about the components that make up a garden and how to arrange them to create affects of your own choosing.
  • Become a Professional Landscape Designer

"This course contains the most essential aspects of a full professional landscape design qualification , condensed into 100 hours. If you are only going to do one short course, and you are really serious about garden design, this is ideal"   - John Mason  Dip Hort Sci, FPLA, FIOH, Landscape Designer since 1971, Garden Writer, Editor Your Backyard Magazine  

“This is the essential know-all for budding garden designers and landscape gardeners alike. It will also hold some sway for the home gardener and enthusiast. The course covers the history of garden design, principles of design, landscape detailing, and construction through to drawing techniques, plans and then encourages the student to design their own detailed landscape design. This is a wonderfully creative course”


Landscape Design is a multifaceted skill. It allows you to take a vision or "feeling" and transform it into a workable plan. It isn't just making a place look nice, nor mass planting, but is also about suiting the landscape to the climate, land and setting that you have to work with. An understanding of plants, soils, timbers, climate, and other landscape materials are pivotal to the success of a good landscape design.

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Basic Design Procedure A. - collecting pre-planning information, landscape elements, principles, etc.
  2. History of Gardening ‑ garden styles and themes, famous designers, garden influences.
  3. Drafting & Contracting - drawing techniques, specifications, details.
  4. Basic Landscape Construction - timber, steps, retainer walls, pathways, playstructures, etc.
  5. Surfacings - concrete, asphalt, gravels, mulches, grasses, gradients, etc.
  6. Furnishings & Features - chairs, statues, figurines, birdbaths, skateboards, safety, etc.
  7. Park Design A - good/bad park design characteristics, recreational landscaping.
  8. Home Garden design - good/bad garden design characteristics.
  9. Design Procedure B - development of concept plans and detailed planting plans.
  10. Park Design B - development of park design, fun & fitness trails.
    • plus a Special Assignment - comprehensive landscape design development.

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.


  • 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.
  • 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 landscaping 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 plant collection of at least eighty different plants incorporating:
    • Pressed plant specimens
    • Scientific and common names
    • Cultural details
    • How to use each of these plants in different landscape situations.
  • Evaluate established landscapes based on:
    • 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 four conceptual plans, showing stages in the design of a home garden surveyed.
  • Prepare a professional standard landscape design for a client in the learner's locality, including:
    • A landscape plan drawn on tracing paper.
    • Materials specifications, including types and quantities.
    • Budget details.



Landscape planning is both an art and a science. It's a process in which you need to consider the physical requirements of building a garden, and at the same time strive to create something which is artistic and pleasing to the eye.

Don't Be Put Off By The Challenge

Planning your garden can be a lot of fun, and remember it's a lot cheaper to make your mistakes on paper!

Follow a step-by-step process and you can't go too wrong:

  1. Draw a sketch of your property (preferably to scale) as it is now. A builder's plan is often good to work off (all you have to do is trace over it).
  2. Make up a list of things you want to put in the garden (e.g. washing line, shed, BBQ, lawn area, vegetable garden, children's swing etc).
  3. Draw in pencil where you think the best place would be to put each of these things.
  4. Now stand back and think for a week or so. If you like, ask friends or relatives what they think about where you plan to put things. Use a bit of common sense and consider whether each of these things is located in the best place.
  5. Rearrange the location of these different components, and settle on final locations.
  6.  Fill in the gaps - placing lawn, shrubs, paving, mulch, gravel, etc. between the various components.

What’s Your Style?

Before you start, it helps if you decide which of the following garden styles appeals to you: 

  • Formal
  • Informal
  • Natural
  • Oriental
  • Permaculture
  • Mediterranean
  • Cottage/country.

 Fill in details after you settle on the big picture.


Even if you only use one garden style, you will still have distinct areas within the garden. These 'garden rooms' can have an ambience of their own. 

First, take measurements and make drawings as you did for your macro design. Then work out what components you need to realise your idea.  

1.      Structures and hard surfaces - e.g. pergolas, decks, paving stones, railway sleepers, ponds, etc. These will decide the structure of the garden room. A formal garden will have geometric lines whereas an informal garden might include an irregular or curved path. Consider views when deciding where to build. You don’t want to see the back of the garden shed from the lounge room window! 

2.      Soil – does it need fertiliser, cultivation, etc? 

3.      Plants – will you need a creeper to cover the fence, flowers for colour and scent, trees for shade, or grass for a lawn? How long will they take to grow? How big should they be? How many do you need? What species will grow well in your area? 

4.      Statuary, garden ornaments and seating – use these sparingly i.e. just enough to set the mood and create areas of interest in the garden room.    

5.      Be realistic – will the tree you want to plant grow into power lines or have roots that will get into the drains?


Garden Room Components – What to Put in Your Garden Room

You may find it helpful to decorate your garden room in the same way as you would decorate a room inside the house. Every room has walls, a ceiling, a floor, furniture and ornaments, each of which gives the room a distinct character.  

In your ‘garden room’ the components include:

·         Walls – the ‘wall’ encloses and defines the space. It gives a strong vertical element to the design and sets the area apart from the rest of the garden. It could be a fence or solid wall, a lattice panel, a screen of plants, or even a small garden bed.

·         Floor – this is most often a grass lawn, but it could be paved or surfaced with loose gravel.

·         Ceiling – the sky is the most obvious component but overhead branches, pergolas, arbours, etc can also be used. 

·         Furniture – this is not essential for every garden room, but most areas could have at least one comfortable bench to encourage people to linger and enjoy the garden.

·         Ornaments – plants are the most essential decorative features of the garden room but also statues, birdbaths, ponds, etc will add charm and interest. 

Creating Garden Effects

You can achieve different garden effects if you keep these things in mind: 

·         Close mowing and smooth boundaries make areas seems larger.

·         Shadows or openings at one side of an area will make it seem larger.

·         Looking downhill makes distances seem longer.

·         Looking uphill makes a distance seem longer.

·         Too much repetition will be monotonous.

·         Small spaces can be oppressive.

·         Coarse textures decrease the apparent size of spaces.

·         Flowing, curved lines are passive, soft and pleasant.

·         Geometric lines and shapes are bold and formal.

·         A garden can be made to appear larger by making trees and other features from adjoining areas seem like they are part of the garden.



  • Support, Flexibility, Credibility
  • We have been teaching this course for more than three decades. Our principal is a leading landscaper and horticulturist with over 40 years industry experience; author of books used in university and college courses across the world; editor of landscaping magazines, and backed by a team of more than a dozen professionals in horticulture and landscaping, who work from the UK to Australia.

 Use our Free Advisory Service to make the Best Decision for Your Future

Opportunities Post-study

This is landscaping 101. It serves as an ideal foundation for 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 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 design
  • Garden maintenance
  • Garden restoration or conservation

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.

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John Mason

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.
Jacinda Cole

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

B.App. Sc. (Horticulture), Dip.Ag., M.Sc., Grad Dip.Mgt. Over 50 years experience that includes, Nursery Manager Brisbane City Councoil, Grounds Manager (University of Qld), Lecturer Qld Agricultural College, Propagator/Nurseryman at Aspley Nursery, Hort
Adriana Fraser

Over 30 years working in horticulture, as a gardener, propagator, landscape designer , teacher and consultant. Adriana has spent much of her life living on large properties, developing and maintaining her own gardens, and living a semi self sufficient li