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Course Description

The exceptionally comprehensive Diploma Garden Design allows students to combine their love of gardens and plants with their inherent creativity to develop a new and exciting career. The course is designed to be accessible and inspirational with the emphasis on providing the key skills and sound practical knowledge needed for a career in this dynamic field.

The business aspect of running a design practice is given a high priority and students will learn how to run all aspects of a professional design project. By the time students have graduated, they will not only have been awarded a respected qualification but will also have built up an impressive portfolio to show prospective employers and clients.

The Open Learning Diploma Garden Design has built up an outstanding reputation for highly creative and professional graduates well grounded in garden design and theory, with a good knowledge of plants and planting design, construction, horticultural and professional practice. The high number of graduates working successfully in the industry and winning design awards is a testament to the effectiveness of the course.

Covering everything from plant science and hard landscaping, design principles to professional practice, you’ll learn everything you need to become a professional garden designer.

The study format of the Open Learning Garden Diploma includes a combination of printed and online course materials and the average completion time is 2 years with approximately 12 - 15 hours of study per week.

The exceptionally comprehensive Diploma Garden Design allows students to combine their love of gardens and plants with their inherent creativity to develop a new and exciting career. The course is designed to be accessible and inspirational with the emphasis on providing the key skills and sound practical knowledge needed for a career in this dynamic field. The business aspect...

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Course Content

Section One

Design Project 1         Residential Garden - Site Survey & Analysis

Students start the course with learning how to read scale and professionally survey a garden site, going on to practise initial pencil exercises, then how to create plans, elevations and sections from these surveys. A medium sized residential garden of the students’ choice is required for this project and students are taught about the design process, fundamental design principles, taking the client brief and creating concepts. Garden history is also introduced, as well as plant nomenclature and advice on keeping a sketchbook.

Section Two

Design Project 2         Residential Garden – Exploring Garden Layouts

This section develops on the residential garden site from the first project, with students exploring functional layout plans, as well as taking a closer look at plant categories, planting principles - including form, texture & colour - and plant science. This is developed into creating a lakeside planting plan and continuing to progress skills such as sketching, inking and lettering.

Section Three

Design Project 3         Small Town Garden

Moving on to a small town garden project, students look at dealing with difficult sites, construction and garden lighting. They also start to consider professional practise elements of design, such as costing a project, and researching topics such as environment, sustainability & naturalistic planting. Visual presentation skills are developed through teaching on axonometric projection drawings and colour rendering planting combination drawings. Students are also required to submit their garden sketchbook.

Section Four

Design Project 4         Commercial Garden – Hospital Courtyard

Taking on larger projects for the second half of the course, students look further at garden construction, this time from a commercial perspective, using their new knowledge to create detailed construction drawings and a landscaper materials reference table. They continue to progress their horticultural knowledge of with further plant combinations exercises and also explore creating scale models.

Section Five

Design Project 5         Conceptual Show Garden

This section focuses in the main on conceptual gardens, with students being asked to design a conceptual show garden - as though they were exhibiting at the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show. This lends itself to researching contemporary garden design, as well as creating a research profile on a contemporary garden designer. 

Section Six

Design Project 6         Final Residential Garden 

For their final major project, students combine a large residential site of their choosing with a given client and budget, to showcase their full range of knowledge and skills, including professional practise considerations. They will be asked to produce a full project proposal, site survey and analysis, composite photos, a concept board, a functional layout plan, colour rendered master plan, a planting plan and schedule, a colour-rendered elevation and construction detail drawing, a freehand, colour-rendered sketch perspective and lighting plan. Students also present a lighting research document, a history of garden styles notebook and submit their final garden sketchbook.

Section One Design Project 1         Residential Garden - Site Survey & Analysis Students start the course with learning how to read scale and professionally survey a garden site, going on to practise initial pencil exercises, then how to create plans, elevations and sections from these surveys. A...

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Entry Requirements

No previous experience in garden design is required for this course; we simply ask that you have a passion for the subject and a drive to learn!

Applicants should have basic computer skills (Word processing, Spreadsheets, Internet and Email use) and able to confidently use their laptop computer. These skills can be built on using the online learning resources during the course to gain the computer-aided design (CAD) software skills needed to complete the course from an absolute beginner level to confident usage. 

English Language Recommendation

IELTS score of 5.5

No previous experience in garden design is required for this course; we simply ask that you have a passion for the subject and a drive to learn! Applicants should have basic computer skills (Word processing, Spreadsheets, Internet and Email use) and able to confidently use their laptop computer. These skills can be built on using the online learning resources during...

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