Water Gardening

Learn to create water gardens -100 hour course -professional development for landscapers and horticulturists; or a passion for home gardeners.

Course CodeBHT307
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

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Who is this course aimed at?

  • Landscapers
  • Garden Designers
  • Gardeners
  • Retail water garden specialists and employees
  • Backyard enthusiasts

Anyone can create a pond or water feature, but to create an ecologically sustainable water garden, that is designed to work with nature to encourage a healthy ecosystem requires more knowledge than a backyard gardener usually has.

How will this course help you?

  • Increase your knowledge as a landscaper - there is a lack of experts in this field
  • Improve your earning capacity as a landscaper - as you will be able to offer more than others
  • Increase your employment potential in a retail setting
  • Help you save money as a  garden enthusiast by designing your water garden the right way first time around
  • Improve your knowledge on what materials and pond life is appropriate for a variety of settings

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • Scope and nature of water gardens
    • What size water garden
    • Water supply: rain, tanks,etc
    • Water quality
    • Siting the water garden
    • Evapouration rate, water depth, safety
    • Water in garden design: formal, informal
    • Edging, Water sculptures, shade
    • Water effects: sound, reflection, movement, light, cooling,
    • Water life: algae, fish, mosquitos, wildlife, plants
  2. Water Garden Construction
    • Introduction
    • Planning the water garden
    • What effect do you want
    • Matching the effect with the type of garden
    • Shape, size and location
    • Type of construction
    • Surrounds
    • Using a liner
    • Pre formed water gardens (Kits)
    • Pond edges
  3. Equipment: Pumps, lights, filters
    • Submersible pumps
    • Lighting: power source, DC power
    • Lighting design with water
    • Pond filtration systems: sterile or living water
    • Mechanical or biological filtration
    • Swimming pool filtration
    • Sand filters
    • Diatomaceous earth filters
    • Cartridge filters
  4. Ponds and Watercourses
    • Designing a natural watercourse
    • Siting a stream
    • Water circulation
    • Pond design
    • Dams
    • Bog gardens
    • Reed beds
    • Pond management
    • Oxygenating plants
  5. Spas and Swimming Pools: Design and aftercare
    • Choosing a swimming pool
    • What sort of pool do you need
    • Structural considerations
    • Cost considerations
    • Types of pools: concrete, fibreglass, vinyl
    • Above or below ground
    • Pump and filtration system
    • What shape
    • Special features in a pool
    • Heating a pool
    • Pool care over winter
  6. Indoor and Outdoor Water Features
    • Introduction
    • Pot ponds
    • Water barrels
    • Wall plaques and wall fountains
    • Water walls
    • Water spouts
    • Bird baths
    • Fountains
    • Cobble fountain construction
    • Waterfalls
    • Cascades
    • Canals
    • Using water features in a landscape
  7. Water Plants
    • Introduction
    • Waterside trees and shrubs
    • Bog plants
    • Emergent water plants
    • Floating leaf plants
    • Aquatic plants
    • Water lilies
    • Plants to avoid in water gardens
    • Surrounding plants
  8. Aquatic Animals
    • Introduction
    • Conditions needed by fish and aquatic animals
    • Maintenance
    • Fish
    • Frogs
    • Tortoises
    • Water snails
    • Insects
    • Birds
    • Troubleshooting

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.


  • Understand the nature and scope of water gardens.
  • Identify and describe generic construction materials and techniques suitable for water gardens and pools.
  • Select appropriate equipment for use with water features.
  • Specify the design and construction of a pond or watercourse.
  • Specify the design, construction and maintenance of a spa or swimming pool.
  • Specify the design & construction of a Water Feature other than a pond or water course.
  • Identify the water plants commonly used in water gardens.
  • Identify a variety of aquatic animals suitable for water gardens, and their requirements.


Water in formal gardens is usually found in regular shaped ponds, often in the form of a perfect circular, square or rectangular feature. Most gardens however, follow an informal or natural style, in which case irregular shapes are used for water features.

Formal Water Features
 Formal pools and ponds are so named because they are mainly designed by defined shapes and angles with distinct edges. These pools can be framed with decorative stones or plain construction materials, such as concrete or bricks. They may be further disguised by garden plant designs or other water features after the final structure and geometrical shape has been defined.

Formal ponds may be raised or sunken. Typically, a raised formal pond will be of uniform depth throughout. For instance it may be a rectangular raised pond sitting on a stone patio. Most likely the sides of the ponds will be constructed of the same material as adjacent walls or buildings, or the patio itself. The capping around the pond will almost certainly be of the same material as the paving so as to tie the two together and create a sense of unity and rhythm in the design.

A formal pond is likely to be a key feature within a formal design. It is to be seen and admired, and will create a vista. It could be towards the rear of a courtyard against a wall in which case a wall fountain might be positioned above it. Alternatively it could be in the centre of a garden where it can be appreciated from all sides. An ornate fountain, such as statuary, in the centre of the pond could be used to enhance the formal appeal.

Informal Water Features
This type of water feature does not normally have clearly defined edges. Its curved outline and irregular shape allows a more natural look - as if the pond has been incorporated as an extended part of the garden. An informal pond need not have any edging materials to frame it, but could be edged by lawn or ornamental grasses as though it had been formed by nature.

Similarly, an informal water feature could be a meandering stream or creek which runs through the garden. The edges may have some river pebbles or shingle scattered around. It might just be edged with bare earth or bark. It might include driftwood or rocks which replicate the natural landscape of the local region. In a natural, or wildlife, garden an informal pond or stream is intended to blend into the surroundings rather than stand out.

However, informal water features do not just have to be part of a natural garden theme. They can also be included in cottage gardens and rustic designs. In cottage gardens it might be an irregular shaped pond with a brick edging, or it could be a birdbath in a shady garden spot. In a rustic garden, an informal water feature could be a body of water housed in an old claw footed bath, an enamel sink, or an old whiskey barrel. Really, there are no limits to how adventurous you can be when it comes to dabbling with water in the garden. 


Whether you are a landscaping professional or a gardening enthusiast we can help you  to create stunning water gardens with this comprehensive course.

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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
Barbara Seguel

Teacher and Researcher, Marine Scientist, Tourism and Outdoor recreation guide, Health and Safety Coordinator & Production Manager for Fisheries, National Park Staff/Farmer, Laboratory technical aide, Zoo, Wildlife and Marine Park assistant. Barbara has w
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