Course CodeAHT103
Fee CodeS1
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

The secret to good garden design is a plan.

Designing your own garden can be one of the most creative things you ever do - a living sculpture that gives you years of enjoyment.

This course is designed to teach you how to design (or renovate) and maintain a home garden. Most importantly it aims to develop a solid understanding of the principles and procedures of garden design and development. Although consideration is given to construction, this course focuses on design; a well designed garden, designed by a knowledgeable gardener or designer will flow, have unity and fit well into the surrounding landscape. This course is relevant to both small and large landscapes, new gardens, or old gardens in need of improvement or refining.

The course is made up of ten lessons with an assignment for each. All assignments will require written answers to set questions (sometimes drawings - the principles of landscape drawing are covered in the course) plus a plant collection. .


Lesson Structure

  1. Basic Garden Design Procedure
    • Site analysis
    • Deciding what you want
    • Creating a Concept (Macro Design)
    • What is your style
    • Creating a garden room
    • Garden room components
    • Garden Effects
    • Principles of Landscape Design
    • Pre Planning Information
  2. Styles of Garden Design through History
    • Formal gardens
    • Informal gardens
    • Natural gardens
    • Naturalistic landscaping
    • The permaculture garden
    • Japanese Gardens
    • Hill and Pond Garden
    • Dry landscape
    • Tea garden
    • Stroll garden
    • Courtyard garden
    • Rock garden
    • Mexican style gardens
    • Garden history
  3. Drawing Plans
    • Starting step by step
    • What type of garden is needed
    • Creating transition where garden meets house
    • Practical concerns for where garden meets house
    • Design procedure
    • Graphic representation of the design
  4. Landscaping with Soils
    • Earthmoving -moving existing earth
    • Tools for earthmoving
    • Importing soil
    • Shaping the ground
    • Settling soil
    • Understanding the nature of soil you work with
  5. Basic Landscape Construction
    • Specifications and contracts
    • General construction
    • Building with concrete
    • Understanding cement, mortar, concrete
    • Options for concreting
    • Mixing concrete and mortar
    • Reinforcing
    • Rodding concrete
    • Expansion joints
    • Garden furniture and structures
  6. Managing Weeds and Pests when Landscaping
    • Weed control methods
    • Keeping weeds out of lawns
    • Weeds in pavement
    • Weeds in garden beds
    • Natural pest controls
    • Integrated pest management
  7. Planting and Pruning
    • Making garden beds
    • Raised beds
    • Sunken beds
    • No dig beds
    • Planting a cottage garden
    • How to use plants in a cottage garden
    • Planting damp spots
    • Creating bog gardens
    • Pruning guidelines
    • Root pruning
    • Pruning specific plants -roses, wisteria, lavender etc
  8. Lawns and Surfacings
    • Understanding gradients/slope
    • Gravel surfaces
    • Soft ground surfaces
    • Lawn surfaces
    • Paving
    • Paving options and tips
  9. Furnishings and Features
    • Factors for choosing features
    • Playground structures
    • Edging and garden borders
    • Fencing
    • Hedging
    • Garden art
    • Framing the view
    • Using pots
    • Sculpture
    • Water
  10. Outdoor Living Areas
    • What is Needed
    • Options
    • What to include (shelter, seating)
    • Garden structures
    • Pool areas
    • Gardens for children
    • Child safety
    • Designing for children
    • Play equipment
    • Garden pavilions
    • Floor options
    • Locating a pavilion
    • Construction types
    • Minimizing fire hazards around a house and garden

Learning the Plants is a Critical Part of Good Gardening
A big part of this course is to broaden your plant identification skills and knowledge.
This is done (in part) by finding, observing, making notes (from observations, research, or both); and creating images of six different plants for each lesson.
You mat photograph or draw the plant, perhaps press the specimens and label them; or if these things are too difficult for some plants, you might copy an image from a book or web site.
You need to attempt to record both scientific and common names plus details of size and shape, conditions it will grow in, maintenance requirements, lifespan, appearance (and any way its appearance might change throughout the year) plus several recommendations as to suitable situations it could be used in by the landscaper.
Some students will find this easier to do than others; and for those who have difficulty; our tutors can help you. We have a great deal of resources online and in ebooks and magazines that we have written over the years (hundreds of publications covering plant identification); and can send additional information if and when needed. A big part of learning though, is learning to find the information and interpret it yourself, and learning will not be achieved if we spoon feed you every piece of information you need to complete the course.
With our steady assistance and support, you will expand your plant knowledge significantly through this course.
How to Get a Good Lawn.
There are many different types of lawns; some are easy to maintain, while others require a lot of work. If you want the perfect lawn you will need to spend a lot of money and time, both to set it up initially, and to keep it looking good with regular attention. If you want to save some money, and you are prepared to accept something which doesn't always look quite as good, you can plant hardier grasses and mow the weeds that appear, letting them become part of the lawn cover. A rough weedy lawn can be quite functional, particularly for a young family, and there's no reason to get too fussed about making it a showpiece if all you need is something green, clean and tidy.
  • It is nearly always easier to grow a top quality lawn in sandy soil. Choose varieties that suit sandy soils and also your climate.
  • Good drainage is essential for any lawn, particularly during the wet season. If the area is poorly drained, you will need underground drainage pipes and a good well drained topsoil to be sure of a quality lawn.
  • It is difficult to produce good lawns in shaded areas, so those shaded parts of the garden may be better paved or planted out as a garden bed, or alternatively reduce the shadiness of the area by perhaps removing some of the plants nearby that create the shade, or thin their foliage. Lawn breeders are slowly releasing a range of shade tolerant specimens that will be available over the future years.
  • Weeds will be a problem in any top quality lawn, particularly in rural areas or on new estates where weed seeds blow in from nearby paddocks.
  • Be careful about bringing in contaminated topsoil (containing weed seeds, pests or salt).This is more likely if you buy cheaper soils or from less reputable suppliers.
  • If you buy cheaper sod or instant turf, you are also likely to be buying grass which is contaminated with some weeds, even if you can't see them when you first establish your lawn. They will soon make an appearance.
  • Hardy, thick stemmed creeping grasses (e.g. Kikuyu or carpet grass) are often easier to grow and maintain as a lawn, but they rarely look as good as less hardy finer leaved grasses.
When you finish this course, you will be far more confident and capable of designing a home garden, small or large, choosing the most appropriate hard landscaping components and plants to use in the garden; then building the garden in a way that is structurally sound, and value for money.
People commonly spend tens of thousands of dollars on developing and maintaining gardens, over time; and don't always get the garden they would prefer to have, simply because they don't understand what is and is not possible.
Doing this course can make you far more aware of the possibilities. That can make it far more likely that you will get the garden you want, and at a better cost than might have otherwise been the case. 

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