Planning Layout and Construction of Ornamental Gardens

Course CodeBHT242
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Landscape the Ornamental Garden

This is a great course for landscape consultants, garden designers, horticultural advisors, project managers, or anyone else who works with landscapes and needs to improve their ability to survey, evaluate and plan development work on a site.

Every site has a unique set of micro climatic and soil conditions. Other factors such as the site’s exposure to traffic, pests and disease, will also be unique. All of these things are relatively uncontrollable; although the way the landscape is designed will impact on these characteristics as well.


  • Planting large plants can modify existing microclimates by buffering temperature fluctuations, changing light intensities etc.
  • Changing contours can alter soil temperatures, soil moisture, exposure to light, as well as drainage patterns, etc.
  • Treatments of surfaces can change drainage characteristics, soil conditions,
  • Buildings, drainage pipes, services (electricity, gas etc)can be affected by the nature and type of landscape treatment
  • Some styles of landscape are going to cause greater changes to a landscape than others.

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Site Appraisal, Interpretation and Risk Assessment
    • Scope and Nature of Site Survey
    • Prior Site Use
    • Tree Data
    • Tree Impact and Suitability
    • Building Construction Data, etc
    • Child Proofing a Garden
    • Managing Slippery Surfaces
    • Risk Assessment of a Landscape Construction Site
    • Keeping a Work Site Safe
  2. Preparing Site Plans and Specifications
    • Base Plan
    • Topographic Plan
    • Design Drawing
    • Different Types of Lines
    • How Much Detail in a Plan
    • Completed Designs
  3. Influence of Site Characteristics
    • Introduction
    • High Impact Site Changes
    • Creating User Friendly Gardens
    • Providing Shade
    • Understanding the Sun's Path and changing effects
    • Determining Shadow length
    • Making a Garden Warmer
    • Paths•Garden Features
    • Entries, Exits, Gateways
    • Fragrant Plants
    • Focal Points
    • Types of Gardens
    • Dry Gardens
    • Extending a Garden's Potential
  4. The Use of Hard Landscape Features
    • Hard Surfacing
    • Laying Pavers
    • Concrete Use
    • Pebble Gardens
    • Fences
    • Inexpensive Fencing
    • Rockeries
    • Stone Walls
    • Planning for Children's Play Provision
  5. Setting out a Site to Scale Plans and Drawings
    • Plans
    • Survey Techniques
  6. Soil Handling and Storage
    • Excavation
    • Changing Levels
    • Slope Stability
    • Soil Types
    • Foundations
    • Maintaining Vegetation for Soil Stability
    • Developing a Grading Plan Grading and Filling Operations
    • Earthmoving Equipment and Operators
    • Cost of Earthworks
  7. Land Drainage Systems
    • How Much Drainage is Needed
    • Solving Drainage Problems
    • Creating a Drain Pit
    • Draining Turf
    • Springs and Underground Water
    • Sub Surface Draining
    • Rainwater Harvesting and Storage
    • Bore Water
    • Grey Water
    • Diverting Storm Water
    • Water Quality
  8. Ground Preparation Techniques
    • Working Soil
    • Cultivation Equipment
    • Making Garden Beds
    • Raised Beds
    • Sunken Gardens
    • No Dig Beds
    • Earthmoving
    • Buying Soils
    • Changing Ground Shape
  9. Construction of Paths and Patios
    • Paths
    • Soft and Hard Paths
    • Load Bearing Capacity
    • Paving
    • The Effect of Paving Design
    • Paving on a Slope
    • Paving Maintenance
    • Verandahs
    • Timber Decks
    • Decking Materials
    • Hand rails and Balustrades
    • Steps
    • Decking Round Pools
    • Paints and Stains
    • Heavy Work: Lifting with machines or without
  10. Construction of Steps, Ramps, Dwarf Walls and Fences
    • Changing levels
    • Steps
    • Ramps
    • Railings
    • Retaining Walls
    • Types of Retaining Walls
    • Building a Brick Wall
    • Dry Stone Walls
    • Rendering Walls
    • Wet Walls
    • Fencing and Fencing Materials

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.


  • Explain how to conduct a site appraisal and interpret the results.
  • Conduct risk assessments associated with planning layout and construction of ornamental gardens
  • Produce and interpret site plans and specifications using basic survey measurements.
  • Explain how site characteristics may influence choice of garden design style.
  • Evaluate and explain the contribution made by hard landscape features to design and function
  • Describe the practical procedures for setting out a site to scale plans and drawings.
  • Describe and explain the reasons for correct soil moving and storage during construction works.
  • Explain the factors which determine the design and specification of land drainage systems and describe procedures for setting out and installing land drainage.
  • Explain requirements for a range of ground preparation techniques for different landscape features.
  • Specify a range of materials and outline procedures for construction of paths and patios.
  • Specify a range of materials and outline procedures for construction of Steps, Ramps, Dwarf Walls and Fences

The Landscaping Process

The first task on any landscape development is to collect information about the site.

A site survey may be simple or complex in scope.

The scope of a survey may be determined by a range of factors including:

  • Law – sometimes there may be legal requirements to survey and plan for specified issues such as fire risk, flood management, pest or insect management, botanical and wildlife conservation, etc.
  • Site sensitivity – some sites are more sensitive to development. Changing levels or removing vegetation can increase risk of weed problems, erosion, flood or other issues. Previously developed sites may contain pollutants.
  • Funding – limited finance may restrict the extent to which a site may be surveyed.

Data that might be required in a Site Survey:

  • Vegetation and/or animal surveys.
  • Soil tests.
  • Presence of pests (eg. termites).
  • Presence of industrial waste or other pollutants.
  • Environmental data (rainfall, temperature range, shade/light levels, wind).
  • Condition of existing features.
  • Drainage patterns.

Risk Assessment of a Landscape Construction Site

A detailed risk assessment of the operation should be conducted on commencement of landscaping work, and should be reviewed monthly, or improved as soon as an additional risk is identified. It is too late to improve after an accident has occurred. A near accident or a small mishap is justification to review and upgrade the assessment.

A standard risk assessment should include background information and the purpose of the project:

This should state location of the work, including the address. The address should include postal address, physical location, Registered Plan and Lot number

  • Access - directions as to how emergency services can access the property, and a layout of the site
  • Proprietors - name and contact details of owners and management
  • Insurance company - details and policy number
  • Previous use of the site - if you are not sure of previous uses, do some research so you can provide a history of the site, it may be important if for example it was part of a cattle property and there was a dip site close to your work area
  • Intended purpose and operational functions - clearly state your intended progress plan and landscape products and procedures.

The Area(s) and People That May Be At Risk
This part of the risk assessment should include:

  • Site layout, landscape drawings landscaping works and staff facilities
  • Quantity of staff and their work movements - names, addresses and phone numbers of all staff, their positions, responsibilities and work areas.

The Risks
You need to define the risks, and outline what and how things can happen. Compile a list of things that could go wrong - for example, working with machinery in confined spaces, retaining wall collapses, even overexposure to sunlight or noise. You must also outline and what strategies you have in place to alleviate risks.

The Consequences of an Event Happening
If a problem did occur - what would you do to manage the situation?

  • Have you an approved procedure and time for the procedures to be implemented.
  • Where are the closest doctors and hospitals and a route to get there.
  • Who do you have to contact?
  • Do you have their telephone numbers located in an easy to find location?

The Adequacy of Existing Controls
Safety plans:

  • Have you a safety plan approved and is your staff aware of how to implement it?
  • What are the chances that something will go wrong when you are not present?
  • Is staff fully aware of the safety plan?
  • Have your plan assessed by the safety officer on-site and ask for their suggestions?



This is a great course for landscape consultants, garden designers, horticultural advisors, project managers, or anyone else who works with landscapes and needs to improve their ability to survey, evaluate and plan development work on a site.




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