Restoring Established Ornamental Gardens

Study towards becoming an expert at garden restoration. Learn to survey, analyse and plan sensitive and appropriate renovation of established gardens. Find out how to access historical information and apply garden history.

Course Code: BHT243
Fee Code: S3
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Understand How to Restore Gardens Authentically
Garden restoration involves trying to return a garden to a similar state to how it was originally conceived. For some gardens old records may be relatively easy to find. For instance, if the design was created by a designer of merit the materials may be archived in a private collection or library. If the company that created the garden is still in existence, records may be available through that company. Sometimes photographs can be found in private or public records. If people who used the property along time ago are still alive, they may remember details.


Learn the techniques behind successful garden restoration

This course is a thorough introduction to restoring old gardens and gardens of historical significance. Learn some garden history to help you evaluate garden styles and cultural influences. Discover how to survey sites and record important information and how to apply historical data to decision making over which plants and landscape features need to be retained or restored. Learn to plan garden restoration projects and bring old gardens back to life.     


Despite the complexities and costs involved; there is an ever increasing demand for garden renovation specialists. If you love both gardens and history; this could be an ideal career move for you.

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Landscape History and Design Styles
    • Ancient Middle Eastern Gardens
    • Chinese Garden History
    • UK Garden History
    • Important English Landscapers
    • European Gardens
    • Olmsted, Burle Marx, etc
    • The Worlds First Plant Collectors
  2. Surveying the Site
    • Survey Problems
    • What to Survey
    • Measuring Dimensions and Locations
    • Triangulation
    • Slope
    • Levelling Calculating Earthworks; volumes of irregular solids, using triangles, etc
  3. Assessment of Plantings and Features
    • Nature of Garden Restoration
    • Assessing Plantings
    • Considering Trees
    • Assessing Garden Features
    • Considering Degradation
    • Fasteners
    • Water Problems
  4. Selecting Components for Retention
    • What should be restored?
    • Renovating areas within a Garden
    • Pruning to Renovate
    • Windbreaks
  5. Work Programming and Risk Management
    • Where to start renovation
    • Be Prepared
    • What Order to Work in
    • Risks to the Project
    • Risks to the Workers
  6. Drainage
    • Water Logging on a Site
    • Poor Drainage Symptoms
    • Drainage Solutions
    • Reducing Erosion
    • Drainage Design
    • Understanding Gradients
    • Moving Existing Earth
    • Fixing Leaks
  7. Hard Landscape Feature Restoration
    • Paving and Paving Materials
    • Concrete
    • Gravel
    • Asphalt
    • Coloured Surfaces
    • Barriers and Walls
    • Maintaining Stone and Brick Walls
    • Outdoor Furniture
    • Protecting Outdoor Furniture
    • Painting Outdoor Furniture
    • Pond Management
  8. Planting Restoration and Maintenance
    • Improving Existing Plantings
    • Tree Surgery
    • Trees and Paving
    • Replacing Old and Overgrown Hedges
    • Rejuvenating an old Hedge
    • Rejuvenating Other Plants; controlling shape and size, pruning, etc
    • Rejuvenating Old Lawns
    • Perennials
    • Maintaining Herbaceous Borders
    • Controlling Weeds
    • Controlling Pests and Diseases
    • Conducting Tree Inspections
    • Chemical Safety

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.


  • Outline the history of UK garden design and the influence of plant introductions.
  • Evaluate an established ornamental garden in order to determine any particular design style period, or plants of interest.
  • Describe basic methods for the survey and recording of the layout and content of an established garden, and explain the importance of detailed information including assessment of site factors.
  • Explain processes and the need for assessment and recording of the type, condition and future potential of a range of plantings and features in an ornamental garden.
  • Explain the main criteria used to select plantings and features for retention in a restored garden.
  • Explain the need and processes of analysis of collected information.
  • Prepare a summarised programme for organisation of garden restoration work
  • Assess risk and identify safe work practices
  • Recognise and explain the visible signs of the failure of old land drainage systems and describe remedial measures
  • Describe and explain the practical procedures necessary for the restoration of a range of hard landscape features.
  • Explain problems which may be encountered in the improvement of retained hedges, plantings and lawns.
  • Describe practical solutions for improving retained hedges, plantings and lawns
  • Evaluate the use of modern maintenance techniques in established gardens

Learn to Restore Stone or Brick Walls

The techniques and materials used for cleaning brick and stone walls and also for repairing and sealing are the same.
Major problems are:
  • Severe weathering
  • Salt laden air
  • Stress cracks – usually in the mortar but sometimes the stone or brick
  • Efflorescence i.e. salts in the stone dry out and leaves a fine grained crystalline deposit of the surface
  • Pollution – deposits of oil, soot or mineral residue
  • Environmental – Fungus, moss and mildew

1. Stress cracks – chisel out loose mortar and re-apply new mortar into the effected joints making sure to recess each joint slightly
OR for cracked stone or bricks chisel out all surrounding mortar then remove broken piece using a coal chisel and hammer. Insert new piece and re-mortar the surrounding area (ensure a solid fit).

2. Salt Air – sealants are the best way to prevent damage from salt laden air or severe weathering and efflorescence
Applying a sealer can minimize brick or stone damage from salt air and severe weathering. It can even work to prevent efflorescence. However, just as with concrete, brick and stone should be thoroughly cleaned before applying a sealer. 

3. Fungus, moss and mildew are best removed by firstly scraping off as much as possible with a wire brush or putty knife, then using household bleach/water with a 1:4 ratio apply with a stiff bristle brush, leave to penetrate and then rinse with fresh water

4. Oil, soot and mineral residue usually penetrate deeper into the surface of the stone or bricks. Use a solution of 1:9 muriatic acid to water. Apply solution and leave for 15minutes then clean the area using a stiff bristled brush and rinse with fresh water,

5. Remove old paint by sandblasting, chemical paint remover, muriatic acid or a commercial power washer

As masonry work ages it may need re-pointing from time to time – remove the dried patches and replace with new mortar. The only problem with this is that the new mortar will show up against the old. Colour matched latex paint can be used to overcome this problem – applied with a small artist’s brush.


  • Wire brushes can damage some stone surfaces
  • Wall surfaces will look better if cleaned regularly rather then once the damage is done
  • Ensure that water does not pool at the base of a wall
  • Allow air and sun to reach the wall surface as much as possible to prevent growth of moss and lichen




Gardens don't stay the same. They are living things; that get affected over time by the environment, plants, pests, weeds, decaying materials and more. If maintenance is regular and routine, they may change but not decline. All too often though; the maintenance is not always what it should be, and gardens do decline.

At some point though; ownership of gardens will change; or the fortunes of an owner will change. As a result, there will come a point when the owners of any neglected, an old garden will be faced with the prospect of either destroying or restoring the garden

This is the Point at which Opportunities Arise for Landscapers

Restoring an old garden is not the same as constructing a new one; particularly if there is a desire to remain true to the original design.

As the years roll on, and more gardens become older; the need for garden renovators grows.  This is an area of landscaping that offers increasing opportunity to those who know how to do the job, and do it properly. The clients are often people with money and motivation to do things which the average landscape client might not be wanting to do.

If you are a landscape professional (or aspiring landscaper), with a desire to set yourself apart from your competitors, this course is a very good way of doing just that.

Garden renovation is a specialised area of landscaping; not commonly understood by the average landscape professional -but if you want to learn it, here is your opportunity.

Opportunities After Your Studies

This course is likely to be of value to people who have an interest in garden restoration or conservation. It will also appeal to anyone with a general interest in garden history and design.

People who take this course are most likely those working in or aspiring to work in:

  • Garden restoration
  • Garden conservation
  • Garden design
  • Landscaping
  • Gardening
  • Horticulture
  • Parks & gardens
  • Botanical gardens
  • Garden maintenance

The course will also be of value to people wishing to include garden restoration as a service within an existing gardening or landscaping business.

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

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
registration. Recommencement fees may apply.

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There are no entry requirements that you need to meet to enrol in our courses, our courses are for everyone.
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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.

Our courses are designed for adults to gain professional development and skills to further their careers and start businesses.

Our custom online learning portal allows you to conduct your learning online. There may be practical tasks that you can do offline. You have the option of downloading your course notes or print them to read later.

There is also the option to pay an additional fee for printed course notes and or USB (availability limited to location and deliverability).

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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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We are more learning focussed, rather than assessment focussed. You have online quizzes to test your learning, written assignments and can complete an exam at the end of the course (if you want to receive your certificate). You will not receive a pass/ fail on your course work. If you need to add more details on your assignment, we will ask you to resubmit and direct you where you need to focus. If you need help, you can ask your tutor for advice in the student room.

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 $60 incl. GST for each exam.
More information is here

There are practical components built into the course that have been designed to be achieved by anyone, anywhere. If you are unable to complete a task for any reason, you can ask your tutor for an alternative.

When you complete the course work and the exam and you will be able receive your course certificate- a Statement of Attainment. Otherwise, you can receive a Letter of Completion.

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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Who are ACS Distance Education?

ACS Distance Education have been educating people for over 40 years.

We are established and safe- we have been in education for over 40 years.
We are focused on developing innovative courses that are relevant to you now and what you will need to know in the future.
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You can enrol at any time, you can work on your course when it suits you and at your own pace.
We are connected to many industry bodies and our staff participate in continuous improvement and learning activities to ensure that we are ahead of what learning is needed for the future.

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.

Our courses are written by our staff, who all have many years experience and have qualifications in their speciality area. We have lots of academic staff who write and update our courses regularly.

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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.

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 years working in our Gold Coast office, as a tutor and writer for Your Backyard (gardening magazine) which we produced monthly for a Sydney punlisher between 1999 and 2003. Since then, Jacinda has contributed regularly to many magazines, co authored several gardening books and is currently one of the "garden experts" writing regularly for the "green living" magazine "Home Grown".

Rosemary Davies (Horticulturist)

Leading horticultural expert in Australia.
Rosemary trained in Horticultural Applied Science at 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.
In 1999 Rosemary was BPW Bendigo Business Woman of the Year and is one of the founders and the Patron, of the Friends of the Bendigo Botanic gardens. She has completed her 6th book this year and is working on concepts for several others.
Rosemary has a B Ed, BSc Hort, Dip Advertising & Marketing

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