Course CodeBSS101
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Learn to Work with Stone, Concrete, Cement and Brick

Understanding these materials helps you to both design and build better gardens.

An understanding of these hard landscape and building materials is not to be underrated. It is very easy to make mistakes that can waste money, time, and create serious safety issues if you don't properly understand the materials you are working with. This course helps you to avoid such problems.

  • Learn to make different types of cement and concrete
  • Learn how bricks or stones should be laid to create a solid and durable structure
  • Understand the differences between different types of concrete, stone and brick
  • Learn how timber, metal or other materials can be attached to masonry




Lesson Structure

There are 9 lessons in this course:

  1. Scope and Nature of Masonry
  2. Cement and Concrete
  3. Construction Method and Structural Considerations
  4. Working with Brick
  5. Working with Stone
  6. Construction for Fire -Fireplaces, bbq’s, kilns, ovens and fire pits
  7. Landscape Applications & Hybrid construction
  8. Repair and Miscellaneous Work
  9. Building Applications -houses, farm and commercial buildings

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.


  • Describe materials, tools and equipment used for masonry construction
  • Describe the nature and scope of work using those tools and materials.
  • Explain the use of cement as mortar or to make concrete
  • Explain construction with brick stone or concrete in a way which is structurally sound and appropriate to the circumstances.
  • Explain working with different types of bricks for different construction purposes
  • Explain different ways of building with stone.
  • Explain construction of fireplaces and other heat resistant structures
  • Explain landscape uses for masonry
  • Explain maintenance and repair of stone, brick and concrete
  • Explain building construction with brick, stone and concrete.

Learn to Choose the Right Stone for a Job

Stone varies in appearance, strength, durability and other features. Porosity and permeability are considered two of the most important factors affecting deterioration of stone. Some types of stone may last for millennia without much maintenance; but other types may need more attention.

The uninformed often make mistakes by using stone inappropriately, simply because it is available and inexpensive in the locality where you work. Over the duration of this course you will learn not only how stone is worked with; but your understanding of what different types of stone can be used for will grow.

The main types of stone used are:

  • Granite
  • Basalt
  • Marble
  • Travertine
  • Slate
  • Sandstone

The characteristics of stone can be determined by testing small laboratory samples before they are quarried, cut  and used. In some instances, this may not be necessary, but for any substantial and serious engineering work or building construction, such testing may not just be wise, but it may be mandated by law. Stone used for construction needs to be appropriate in terms of all the following:

  • Strength
  • Hardness
  • Workability
  • Durability
  • Colour and grain
  • Porosity and texture
  • Ease of quarrying
  • Accessibility and availability



Granite is one of the hardest and most durable types of stone used in construction. It is an igneous rock made up mostly of quartz and feldspar, with some dark minerals and possibly other components. Granite can vary in colour from pinks to greyish and pale to very dark. Granite is typically used for both structural and veneer building, as well as in architectural trim, paving, bench tops, grave markers, curb stones and in artistic sculpture.
While being very durable, it can nevertheless deteriorate over time, due to:

  • Blistering – small swellings occur on the stone surface, which eventually cause a thin skin of stone to dislodge from the surface. This is often associated with water freezing on the surface of stone near ground level. It can be exaggerated by de-icing salts.
  • Chipping – fragments of stone may break off, most frequently on edges or corners due to accidental impact damage (eg. during repair work).
  • Cracking, Peeling, Spawling or Flaking - If water enters a crack, or gets behind the surface layer of a stone, and then freezes, the ice expansion can cause further cracking. Narrow cracks can develop in stones perhaps as a large stone settles if the foundation or mortar under one part is not as supportive as another part Cracked stones may require patching or complete replacement.
  • Detachment – The granite itself may remain in tact, but it may move from the position it was fixed into, due to deterioration of it’s surrounds (eg. metal rusting, timber rotting, water leaking, etc). Veneer stones may be more prone to this.
  • Chemical damage – A build up of chemical salt (possibly due to ineffective cleaning), can corrode the surface of stone. Hard stone like granite may corrode very slowly, but nevertheless it can still corrode.
  • Erosion – Rain and wind can gradually damage the surface of any stone, including granite.
  • Staining -Granite can stain over time, not as much as softer stones though. Stains can be caused by metal corrosion, chemical salts, urine or droppings from animals, pollutants (eg. soot), or be intentional (eg. graffiti). There are ways of addressing different stains. It is important to use the right way for the type of stain, and type of stone; or you may cause an even greater problem.
  • Rising Damp – If construction does not ensure a watercourse barrier close to ground level; water can be absorbed from the ground up into the walls, causing cracking, peeling or any other type of water damage


Meet some of our academics

Bob James Bob has over 50 years of experience in horticulture across both production sectors (Crops and nursery) and amenity sectors of the industry. He holds a Diploma in Agriculture and Degree in Horticulture from the University of Queensland; as well as a Masters Degree in Environmental Science. He has worked a Grounds Manager at a major university; and a manager in a municipal parks department. Over recent years he has been helping younger horticulturists as a writer, teacher and consultant; and in that capacity, brings a diverse and unique set of experiences to benefit our students.
Gavin Cole Gavin started his career studying building and construction in the early 80's. Those experiences have provided a very solid foundation for his later work in landscaping. In 1988 he completed a B.Sc. and a few years later a Certificate in Garden Design. In the mid 90's he worked as a manager and garden designer with the well respected UK company -The Chelsea Gardener. A few years later he formed his own garden design business, at first in the UK, and later operating in Queensland Australia. He has since moved to, and works from Adelaide. Apart from his work in landscaping, Gavin has been a prolific garden writer and a tutor with ACS Distance Education since 2001. He is currently part of the team of garden experts that produce Home Grown magazine.
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; author of more than 70 books and editor for 4 different gardening magazines. John has been recognised by his peers being made a fellow of the Institute of Horticulture in the UK, as well as by the Australian Institute of Horticulture.
Timothy Walker B.A.Botanist, Horticulturist and Gardener. Author and lecturer at Somerville College, Oxford. After training at a number of gardens including Windsor Great Park, and the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew commenced work at Oxford Botanic Gardens in 1986. Appointed as Horti Praefectus (ie. superintendent/director) there in 1988, and held that position till 2014. Under Timothy's watch the garden won four gold medals at the Chelsea Flower Show; and created 67 acres of MG5 wild flower meadow at the Harcourt Arboretum

Check out our eBooks

Landscaping with Australian PlantsDiscover more about Landscaping with Australian Plants with this ebook, add a different design element in your garden by using beautiful and highly practical Australian Native plants. Attract wildlife, save water by using plants that are suitable for your area. Perfect for passionate gardeners, students and gardening professionals.
Garden Design Part 1This stunning full colour Garden Design ebook is full of useful tips, information and inspiration. It contains around 300 colour illustrations! It is comprised of three parts: Design, How a Garden Functions and Aesthetics (making it look good).
Garden Design Part 2Part 2 of the Garden Design Series is an inspiring accompaniment to the first book, but works equally well in its own right. It's brimming with ideas and practical advice for designing a wide variety of different gardens. You will learn about different styles of gardens and how to create a style to suit a site or client. It contains around 300 colour photos! Written by John Mason over several decades of visiting and photographing gardens, writing, teaching and creating gardens.
Water Gardeningby John Mason. Ideas and inspiration for landscaping and maintenance of ponds, fountains and other water features in the garden.



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