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 CodeBHT243
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement 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 & Design Styles
  2. Surveying the Site
  3. Assessment of Plantings and Features
  4. Selecting Components for Retention
  5. Work Programming and Risk Management
  6. Drainage
  7. Hard Landscape Feature Restoration
  8. Planting Restoration and 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.


  • 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

Following is some extra information - an example of what is covered in this course.

How 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
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.


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Rosemary Davies

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 (c
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
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