Restoring Established Ornamental Gardens

Course CodeBHT243
Fee CodeSpecialS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Bring Historical Gardens Back to Life


Critical aspects of garden restoration are to:

  • Determine what existing plants and features to retain.
  • What new plants to introduce.
  • What new or replacement features to include.

Find out how to restore old gardens

To make restoration decisions, you need to consider:

  • What plants are growing on the site.
  • Which of the current plants were in the original design; and whether any were not originally intended to be in the garden.
  • What did the original planting design intend; and is that intent still valid and viable.
  • What features are still present from the original design (e.g.  paths, paving, walls, fencing, water features, sculpture, etc.).
  • What features are partly or completely absent (evidence may still exist of their original presence).
  • What hard landscape features need attention; and how they might be attended to while still maintaining integrity of the design.

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Landscape History and Design Styles
    • Ancient Middle Eastern Gardens
    • Chinese Garden History
    • UK Garden History
    • Important English Landscapers
    • European Gardens
    • Olmsted, Burle Marx, etc
    • The Worlds First Plant Collectors
  2. Surveying the Site
    • Survey Problems
    • What to Survey
    • Measuring Dimensions and Locations
    • Triangulation
    • Slope
    • Levelling Calculating Earthworks; volumes of irregular solids, using triangles, etc
  3. Assessment of Plantings and Features
    • Nature of Garden Restoration
    • Assessing Plantings
    • Considering Trees
    • Assessing Garden Features
    • Considering Degradation
    • Fasteners
    • Water Problems
  4. Selecting Components for Retention
    • What should be restored?
    • Renovating areas within a Garden
    • Pruning to Renovate
    • Windbreaks
  5. Work Programming and Risk Management
    • Where to start renovation
    • Be Prepared
    • What Order to Work in
    • Risks to the Project
    • Risks to the Workers
  6. Drainage
    • Water Logging on a Site
    • Poor Drainage Symptoms
    • Drainage Solutions
    • Reducing Erosion
    • Drainage Design
    • Understanding Gradients
    • Moving Existing Earth
    • Fixing Leaks
  7. Hard Landscape Feature Restoration
    • Paving and Paving Materials
    • Concrete
    • Gravel
    • Asphalt
    • Coloured Surfaces
    • Barriers and Walls
    • Maintaining Stone and Brick Walls
    • Outdoor Furniture
    • Protecting Outdoor Furniture
    • Painting Outdoor Furniture
    • Pond Management
  8. Planting Restoration and Maintenance
    • Improving Existing Plantings
    • Tree Surgery
    • Trees and Paving
    • Replacing Old and Overgrown Hedges
    • Rejuvenating an old Hedge
    • Rejuvenating Other Plants; controlling shape and size, pruning, etc
    • Rejuvenating Old Lawns
    • Perennials
    • Maintaining Herbaceous Borders
    • Controlling Weeds
    • Controlling Pests and Diseases
    • Conducting Tree Inspections
    • Chemical Safety


  • Discuss the history of UK garden design and the influence of plant introductions.
  • Evaluate an established ornamental garden in order to determine any particular design style period, or plants of interest.
  • Describe basic methods for the survey and recording of the layout and content of an established garden, and explain the importance of detailed information including assessment of site factors.
  • Explain processes and the need for assessment and recording of the type, condition and future potential of a range of plantings and features in an ornamental garden.
  • Explain the main criteria used to select plantings and features for retention in a restored garden.
  • Explain the need and processes of analysis of collected information.
  • Prepare a summarised programme for organisation of garden restoration work
  • Assess risk and identify safe work practices
  • Recognise and explain the visible signs of the failure of old land drainage systems and describe remedial measures
  • Describe and explain the practical procedures necessary for the restoration of a range of hard landscape features.
  • Explain problems which may be encountered in the improvement of retained hedges, plantings and lawns.
  • Describe practical solutions for improving retained hedges, plantings and lawns
  • Evaluate the use of modern maintenance techniques in established gardens

What Should be Restored?

When you renovate an old garden you have the advantage that most of the broad structure is in place. Renovation is easier and cheaper than starting from scratch.  Some components may need cleaning, repairing, replacing or maybe even altering, but there is usually a lot that can be used. That means a garden renovation can provide quicker results than a totally new garden construction on a bare area of land.

In any garden restoration project; there will be components that can be left as is; other components that can be restored, and other things that simply must be replaced (or removed).

Having assessed a garden properly, you have a basis for making these decisions.

Why Keep Something?

• Because it is in good (or at least acceptable) condition.
• Because it contributes to the integrity of the total design.
• Because it is sustainable (it is not going to continue degrading).
• It is integral (i.e. It supports/affects or integrates with other components). To remove it would create negative impacts.

Why Discard Something?

• It is beyond salvage.
• It is too costly to maintain (Resources are not available to ensure it is maintained).
• It was introduced after the original development; and does not contribute to the garden in any significant way.


Who Benefits From This Course?

People who take this course are most likely those working in or aspiring to work in:

  • Garden restoration
  • Garden conservation
  • Garden design
  • Landscaping
  • Gardening
  • Horticulture
  • Parks & gardens
  • Botanical gardens
  • Garden maintenance

The course will also be of value to people wishing to include garden restoration as a service within an existing gardening or landscaping business.




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