Learn to construct gardens - paving, walls, rockeries, garden beds, carpentry, masonry, concreting, and much more - online certificate course. Understand aspects of hard landscaping.

Course Code: VHT074
Fee Code: CT
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 600 hours
Qualification Certificate
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Develop a Career or Business in Landscape Construction

Landscape construction draws on different skills. People who work in this field must understand how to set up and operate different machinery and equipment, how to draw and interpret plans, how to set out, cut, and join different materials, the importance of soils and foundations, and how to finish or preserve those materials in an outdoor environment. Study this course to learn these skills and more.

Discover how to use and make different garden components such as water features, rockeries, raised beds, fences, surfaces, and structures. Whilst there is a particular focus on materials like timber and masonry, you’ll also learn a foundation in horticulture to help build your garden knowledge. 

Landscape construction is an area of demand in private gardens and public landscapes. Jobs can be relatively small alterations through to major changes. There are many opportunities for people who know how to build things whether as a business or working for someone else. 

Study landscape construction to build a foundation - understand how gardens are constructed, then develop your skills of the trade to become increasingly capable of building solid, functional and durable landscapes and gardens.


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the CERTIFICATE IN LANDSCAPE CONSTRUCTION.
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 2 of the following 8 modules.
 MATERIALS TECHNOLOGY - Choosing Materials VSS202

Note that each module in the CERTIFICATE IN LANDSCAPE CONSTRUCTION is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.

Ground first, Hard Landscape Next and Soft Landscape to Finish

Building a garden is far from a simplistic task; but if you were to simplify the job, most gardens involve three stages:

1. Creating the ground surface

2. Creating the hard landscape components

3. Adding the soft landscape components

The ground surface

The ground surface rarely starts out as you want it. Levels may need to be changed, and soils may need to be improved.  If the levels are not proper, the garden may not drain in wet weather, soils may erode, and any structures you build may become unstable. Poor quality soils may not grow plants properly. If you plan to create raised garden beds, steps, walls or paved areas, the earth may need  rearranging to do this.

The hard landscape components

The hard landscape refers to fixed non living features, such as wells, fences, buildings, paving, rockeries, ponds, etc.

The soft landscape components

Soft landscaping refers primarily to plants.


Hard Landscaping with Masonry

Masonry is often used to create a wide variety of different types of garden features. The durability of stone, brick or concrete will give permanence to a garden. Soft elements like plants can come and go, and change across the seasons, but hard landscape features made with masonry will remain as the solid bones of any original garden design. 

Sunken Gardens
A sunken garden needs to be properly constructed. It is more than a hole in the ground. Without adequate drainage, soil stabilisation and appropriate hard and soft landscaping, a sunken garden can flood, its sides can collapse and it can become an eyesore.  Why a sunken garden? 

  • Sunken gardens can be viewed from one or many high points; as well as in the garden itself. This allows an appreciation of the garden design and plants from a perspective not available in other gardens.
  • Being in a depressed position, the sunken garden is protected from wind, creating a microclimate that allows plants to grow with protection otherwise unavailable
  • It provides a sense of privacy and intimacy when used for entertaining, as well as a place to escape.

How do you construct a sunken garden?
First, you must choose an appropriate site, where water can be collected at a low point and eliminated from the garden. Two possibilities are obvious: 
1. On a slope - excavate into the slope at the top, and extend a drainage pipe from the lower side to extract water from the garden. 
2. On relatively flat ground - create a ring of mounds raising the ground above the natural soil level, and embed drainage pipes through the mound to any lower points or drainage pits outside the ring.

Seats and tables can be made from brick, stone or concrete. Niches can be created in stone walls to provide seating. When temperatures drop stone can be a very cold surface to sit on, so a cushion may be required. Cushions and soft furnishings will also help to make it more comfortable. Flat stone such as sheets of slate or cut slabs of granite can make very attractive features in a garden when used as bench seating or table tops.  

Pedestals and Plinths
These are structures built to support something, such as a bird feeder, bird bath, sundial, statue, fountain, memorial plaque, or table top. They may be bought in precast concrete typically with a metal rod inside for strength, but also for bolting to a base. If you got creative with making moulds you could attempt to make your own. A pedestal could also be made from brick. You could try sourcing curved bricks if you want to avoid sharp angles. 

Wishing Well
A wishing well, or even just a regular well are also possibilities with garden masonry. Typical wishing well designs are circular constructions sitting at ground level which containing a pool of water. Usually a small roof is attached like on many water wells. For traditional water wells, you need to excavate the soil until you get down to the water table. The inside wall of the well should be lined. This can be done with concrete blocks or bricks. If the walls are damp you'll probably be best using a hydraulic cement mortar.  

Letter Box
A brick or stone letter box makes an attractive feature at the front of a house's driveway. Use materials which match those of the house to tie the two together. An alternative if you're building a wall at the front of the property is to include a metal letterbox.   

Follies were created on a grand scale in English gardens throughout the 18th and 19th century; frequently with masonry; and often with primarily an aesthetic purpose, rather than any practical purpose. A folly is placed in a garden to look at and admire, rather than to use. It may be the facade of a building for instance, with little or no real building behind it. It may be a construction created to appear like a ruin (e.g. a crumbling wall or a deteriorating ancient temple). Follies can be created on a small or large scale; and because they may not be intended to use, the criteria for construction may be quite different to what would be expected in a building that was to be inhabited.  

Water Features
Masonry work may be used with water to create many garden features, for example: 

  • A weir and waterfall in a stream
  • A viaduct to carry water at a height
  • Edges of a pond or lake
  • A pier or jetty

When stone, brick or cement is going to be submersed in water, or splashed by water constantly, it becomes important to choose an appropriate masonry material. Some masonry may degrade when exposed to water, or may be more challenging to maintain (e.g. algae may grow over the surface).


Benefits of Studying This Course

  • Become proficient in building gardens and components of landscapes using different materials.
  • Learn a range of construction skills and how to use them gardens.
  • Get a solid foundation in horticulture.
  • Incorporate skills acquired into an existing landscaping business or provide a niche business.
  • Update your skills.
  • Be guided by professional tutors on your learning journey. 


Career Opportunities

  • Landscape gardener
  • Garden designer
  • Builder
  • Construction worker
  • Self-employment
  • Small business
Member of the Future Farmers Network

UK Register of Learning Providers, UK PRN10000112

Our principal John Mason is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture

Alternative Technology Association Member

Accredited ACS Global Partner

Member of the Nursery and Garden Industry Association since 1993

ACS is a silver sponsor of the AIH. The principal, John Mason, is a fellow. ACS certificate students are offered a free membership for this leading professional body.Provider.

Member of the Permaculture Association

Member of Study Gold Coast

Institute of Training and Occupational Learning (UK)

Principal John Mason is a member of Parks and Leisure Australia since 1974 and a fellow since 1998

Recognised since 1999 by IARC

Course Contributors

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

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