Landscaping I (Introduction to Design)

Course CodeBHT109
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

What is Landscape Design?

Landscape Design is a multifaceted skill. It allows you to take a vision or 'feeling' and transform it into a workable plan. It isn't just making a place look nice, nor mass planting, but is also about suiting the landscape to the climate, land and setting that you have to work with. An understanding of plants, soils, timbers, climate, and other landscape materials are pivotal to the success of a good landscape design.

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Basic Design Procedure A. - collecting pre-planning information, landscape elements, principles, etc.
  2. History of Gardening ‑ garden styles and themes, famous designers, garden influences.
  3. Draughting & Contracting - drawing techniques, specifications, details.
  4. Basic Landscape Construction - timber, steps, retainer walls, pathways, playstructures, etc.
  5. Surfacings - concrete, asphalt, gravels, mulches, grasses, gradients, etc.
  6. Furnishings & Features - chairs, statues, figurines, birdbaths, skateboards, safety, etc.
  7. Park Design A - good/bad park design characteristics, recreational landscaping.
  8. Home Garden design - good/bad garden design characteristics.
  9. Design Procedure B - development of concept plans and detailed planting plans.
  10. Park Design B - development of park design, fun & fitness trails.
    • Plus A Special Assignment - comprehensive landscape design development.

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.


  • Create visual effects through the use of different landscape design concepts.
  • Determine pre-planning information required to prepare a landscape design.
  • Determine an appropriate garden style for a landscape, to satisfy specifications for a design project.
  • Illustrate a landscape design through a plan, using legible graphic skills.
  • Determine different hard landscape features, including earthworks, surface treatments and furniture, to incorporate in a landscape.
  • Prepare planting designs for different landscapes.
  • Design different types of landscapes, including domestic gardens and public parks

What You Will Do

  • Explain the complete range of principles, elements and concepts used in landscape design.
  • Visit and analyse a broad range of landscape styles, themes and components.
  • Perform methods utilised to develop concepts and to create affects.
  • Identify, record and utilise pre-planning information for the purpose of design development, and to use a checklist as a guide for surveying a site for a proposed design.
  • Perform site survey and client interview with the site owner/manager.
  • Explain the significance of effective client liaison, in a specific landscape job.
  • Identify historical influences on landscaping in your locality.
  • Explain the influence on modern garden design, of work by three garden designers who have been prominent in world garden history.
  • Develop and compare the appropriateness of three design options for one specific landscape project.
  • Draw an extensive range of different landscape symbols on paper, covering soft and hard landscape features.
  • Transpose two different landscape drawings, reducing the scale by a specified amount.
  • Draw a plan for a landscape, using legible graphic techniques.
  • Determine site preparations required for a specified landscape site, including:
    • clearing/cleaning
    • earthworks.
  • Explain the legal requirements for cleaning up after a job in your locality.
  • Determine suitable timbers for construction of four different types of garden structures.
  • Compare the suitability of different materials for surfacing paths, including:
    • Asphalt
    • Concrete
    • Local gravels
    • Local mulches
    • Timber
    • Ceramics.
  • Collect, catalogue and determine appropriate use for different items of garden furniture.
  • Design a paved area for a garden surveyed, including: scale drawings and construction instructions.
  • Prepare a plant collection of at least eighty different plants incorporating:
    • Pressed plant specimens,
    • Scientific and common names
    • Cultural details
    • How to use each of these plants in different landscape situations uses.
  • Evaluate established landscapes based in:
    • Costs
    • Maintenance
    • Function
    • Aesthetics
  • Develop detailed planting designs, including plant lists, for three landscape plans, to satisfy given job specifications.
  • Analyse and compare the landscape designs of numerous selected homes and public parks.
  • Develop and prepare concept plans for landscape areas such as:
    • Outdoor living area
    • Kitchen garden
    • Courtyard
    • Childrens playground
    • Entry to home
    • Neighbourhood park
  • Draft a series of four conceptual plans, showing stages in the design of a home garden surveyed.
  • Prepare a professional standard landscape design for a client in the learner's locality, including:
    • A landscape plan drawn on tracing paper.
    • Materials specifications, including types and quantities.
    • Budget details.

The Secret to Good Garden Design is a Well Thought Out Plan

When starting a design, first carefully examine the existing garden. Unless you have a brand new house on an undeveloped block, you will have to consider what is already on site. Things to look for include:

Easements, caveats and utilities – are there legal restrictions on what you can do and where you can build? Look for gas, electricity, phone and water connections.Buildings and hard surfaces – are there sheds, paved areas, garden beds, etc?Topography and access – is there a slope or a change in levels? Can vehicles or pedestrians move freely?Orientation, seasonal issues – does the house shade parts of the garden? Do deciduous plants let in light during winter? Does one part of the house or garden get hot in summer? etc.Climate – where are the prevailing winds? When and how much does it rain? How often do you get frosts? etc.Soil, drainage – do you have clay or sandy soil? Are there wet spots in the garden?Atmosphere – is there any noise or air pollution?Vegetation – are there existing trees or shrubs you want to retain?Re-usable materials – are there any pavers, timber, etc. on site?Local area – what are the surrounding gardens like?Are there likely to be any future building works (extra rooms, new garage, etc.)?
This course will bring you to a point where you can produce a landscape plan. For most garden designers or landscape contractors, this is a great place to start your learning!

How Do You Create a Ground Surface with Impact in the Landscape?

Ground surfaces can also play a significant role in garden colour. Most of us take the ground surfaces for granted, usually settling for an expanse of lawn, a concrete drive, and maybe a paved entertainment area. And generally this works well, providing functional, durable outdoor surfaces.

But if you want something more interesting, you’ll need to think of those outdoor ground surfaces in the same way as the floors inside the house. No doubt you’ve spent hours carefully choosing carpets, linoleum, tiles, timber boards and the like to match the furniture, walls and curtains. You look at how the colours, textures and patterns can be combined to create an ambience - a sense that the house and its rooms are your private spaces that express your personality and reflect your tastes and interests.

In the same way, your outside 'floors' can be made into a special feature of the garden - something more than just a surface to walk across. With a little forethought and imagination, you can decorate your garden using paving, gravel, bark, groundcover plants, water, tiling and even stencils to create some very interesting effects.

Most hard surfaces, including gravels, pavers and pebbles are available in an ever-increasing array of colours so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find materials to suit your chosen colour scheme. 

Too Dark or Light?

  • If an area is too dark, use light coloured surfacing materials.
  • If an area is open and glare is a problem, use darker coloured materials.

Monotone or Multi-tone?
Most people tend to think of using only one type of material to surface an area and, in doing so, they create a mass of just one colour. With a little imagination though, you can create much more interesting effects:

  • An area of paving (concrete, asphalt or pavers) can be either edged with lines of a different coloured paving material or interspersed with areas of other coloured materials.
  • Parterre gardens were very popular in 18th century European gardens. These often involved using geometrically arranged sections of coloured gravels, divided by low clipped hedges thereby creating a coloured pattern on the ground divided by green lines.
  • A patchwork of different but complementary colours (such as two different coloured bricks or pebbles) mixed at random, will create an interesting and informal effect.
  • By using perhaps only two or three contrasting colours on the ground, a lively and stimulating effect will be created.
  • By using less contrast, a more subdued and relaxed effect is created.

How to Select Coloured Surfaces
1) Consider the effect of colour on surrounding plants, garden features and buildings.
2) Decide whether to use hot or cool colours, bright or subdued colours, and one or several different colours, according to the mood you wish to create.
3) Investigate the materials available, and decide on which ones to use and where to use them.
4) Decide whether to create patterned effects, or a plainer monotone effect. If using a pattern, choose a pattern to suit the style of garden and architecture.

  • Look at the exterior texture of your house for inspiration and ideas about the type of products you should use as a complimentary surface.
  • You are less likely to create an eyesore if you limit your range of colours and keep patterns on the ground simple. A mishmash of colours and shapes usually looks busy and intense, can appear messy, and may take attention away from everything else in the garden.



  • Professional landscapers
  • Trainee landscapers
  • Garden designers
  • Home gardeners






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