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Student Profile


The Garden Designer Course is a positive step in taking control of how you can plan and create your garden. It could also be the first step towards a successful garden design business.


No prior qualification is required and is suited to people of all ages seeking to gain a more formal understanding of the principles of designing and maintaining gardens both large and small.




To develop the student’s knowledge and understanding of selected skills in garden design and maintenance.


Course Accreditation


At the end of this course successful learners will be awarded a certificate of achievement by NCFE. This course has been accredited under NCFE IIQ Licence by Kendal Publishing Limited which has been approved as an NCFE Investing in Quality (IIQ) centre to give formal recognition to our courses. We have designed our training courses specifically to meet the needs of learners who prefer to study from home. The course measurable learning outcomes have been benchmarked at Level 3 (using Ofqual’s Qualification and Credit Framework (QCF) level descriptors) to allow you to consider the depth of study, difficulty, and level of achievement involved.



Study Method


The course is designed for study by distance learning at work or at home.  Students receive course manual, assignments and studyguide plus tutor support by mail and email.  You can start at any time and plan your studies over a period of up to one year from the time of registration. 




Students complete three written assignments, which are submitted and marked by your tutor.  There is no external examination required.


Course Duration


Students may register at any time and have a full year to complete their studies.  The course will take around 80 hours of study to complete.


Pack/Course Contents



Comprehensive study notes for each element of the course

Self-assessment activities


Tutor support

Assignment marking & feedback

Completion certificate




Please refer to current price list










Unit One – Garden Design & You


The following topics are covered: Introduction to design; History and development; How gardens started; The beginnings; The garden today; Designers; Types of garden designers today; Where to find information; factors to consider; The gardens around you; And Unit 1 Summary.


 Unit Two – What Good Design Achieves


The following topics are covered: Designers, what they do and why they are needed?; The design process; The owner’s requirements; What the designer does; The benefits of using a garden designer; Providing guidance; Types of client; You as the designer; Taking instructions; Drawing skills; and Unit 2 Summary.


 Unit Three – Starting to Design


The following topics are covered: Getting started – Equipment & Dress; Design by computer (CAD); Impressions of the garden; The initial visit; The client checklist; The design recipe; Site assessment; Surveying and measuring; Slopes; The rough sketch; The FLP (Functional Layout Plan); Triangulation and chain surveys; drawing to scale; Labelling, heights, number charts and keys; The design principals of Direction, Rhythm and Harmony, and what they mean; and Unit 3 Summary.


Unit Four – The Importance of Soils & Sites


The following topics are covered: Soil and horticultural potential; soil and sites; climate (oceanic, etc); temperature; Light, shade and shelter; Rainfall and humidity; Soil types and pH; Topography; The soil environment and horizons; profile pits; Improving the soil with manures, fertilisers, line and mulches; Cultivation and drainage; Soil life – good and bad; and Unit 4 Summary.


Unit Five – Starting Real Design Work


The following topics are covered: Getting down to design; Arranging plants; practicalities; function and form; Right plant, right place; Height, borders and beds; Information sources; Plants for problem positions; Plants for alkaline and acid soils; Shade; Sunny; Dry; Plants for particular uses (focal points, climbers, ground cover); Designing for shapes and sizes (formal, informal); Linking shapes; Playing with ideas and concepts; Problem sites; Downward slope; Upward slope; Long and narrow; Short and square; L-shaped; Corner; and Unit 5 Summary.


Unit Six – Planning


The following topics are covered: Planning for themes – ideas, styles and how to enhance; Plants for colour and height; The colour wheel; Getting the planting mix right; Colour patch bedding; foliage; Features needing thought; Fruit growing in small areas; Containers, tubs and patios; Plants to define areas and give direction; Rockeries and alpines; Hedges; and Unit 6 Summary.





 Unit Seven – Designing for Interest


The following topics are covered: The garden in winter; Attracting wildlife; Managing wildlife; Herbs and weeds; Other services; Lighting; Furniture; and Unit 7 Summary.


 Unit Eight – Water in the Garden


The following topics are covered: Introduction and uses; Siting a pond; Materials, depths and size; considerations; equipment; safety; filters; planting the pond; planning for timing and colour; Maintenance; Lighting and lighting design for water; Water features; construction diagrams; and Unit 8 Summary.


 Unit Nine – Children & Pets


The following topics are covered: Children; Play areas; Children’s gardens; Equipment and toys; Plants, poisonous plants and other potential threats; Safety - water and children; Pets in the garden; Clients’ dogs; Dogs; Cats; and Unit 9 Summary.


 Unit Ten – Gardening for Users with Disabilities, the Elderly and Garden Safety


The following topics are covered: Access; Paths; Safety, features other issues; Watering; Tools; Visually and sensory impaired sensory gardens; Conclusion; Safety checklist; and Unit 10 Summary.


Unit Eleven – Upkeep & Maintenance


The following topics are covered: Introduction; Assessing maintenance; Builders, diggers and landscapers; Plants; Ponds; Structures; Lawns; Beds; Schedules of work; Maintenance schedules; Cost issues; Practicalities; Plant schedules; and Unit 11 Summary.


Unit Twelve – Structures in the Garden


The following topics are covered: Walls, fences and trellis; Timber; Iron; Wire; Paths and patios; Green houses, sheds and stores; Other structures; Summerhouses; Furniture; and Unit 12 Summary.


Unit Thirteen – Marketing Your Garden Design Business


The following topics are covered: Where are the clients; How to reach clients, Word of mouth, Advertising; Portfolio and plant files; Shows and fairs; Visiting potential clients; Clarifying your service; Charging; Keeping records; Tax and accounts; Help; VAT; Insurance; Unit 13 Summary and Final Course Project (Full Design).


Unit Fourteen – Tricks of the Trade


An additional unit crammed with useful hints and tips for garden designers.



Advantages of this distance learning course:
  • Home Study: you declare when you study, no need to attend class at fixed times and fixed dates. Your study hours fit around you!
  • We will post all the beautifully printed course materials to you. Everything is written in a clear and easy-to-understand format.
  • Start this course anytime of the year! No need to wait until the new academic year starts. Enroll today so soon you'll start improving your CV or re-skill for your new career.
  • Create your own study routine, learn at your own pace, complete your course as quickly or slowly as your circumstance dictate.
  • Your home learning is totally supported by experienced tutors who guide, encourage and assess your progress. You will not be alone because all our tutors are friendly and approachable.


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Questions about this course? Contact Student Support / Course Advisors

Enrol by phone: call 0845 65 22 187 quote course code 654

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