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Ornamental Gardens - Planning, Layout and Construction

Course CodeBHT242
Fee CodeSpecialS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment
Special Offer on our Ornamental Gardens course. Learn to Plant, Design and Construct Beautiful Ornamental Gardens
This course is suitable for:
  • landscape construction
  • garden designers
  • horticulture project managers
  • anyone working with landscape
Gain skills in:
  • surveying and evaluating planned work
  • creating plans for landscape construction
  • implementing plans
  • practical construction of sound hard landscape features
  • managing site characteristics such as soil


  • 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
  2. Preparing Site Plans and Specifications
  3. Influence of Site Characteristics
  4. The Use of Hard Landscape Features
  5. Setting out a Site to Scale Plans and Drawings
  6. Soil Handling and Storage
  7. Land Drainage Systems
  8. Ground Preparation Techniques
  9. Construction of Paths and Patios
  10. Construction of Steps, Ramps, Dwarf Walls and Fences
    • 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.

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

Good Design Makes for Good Construction

Design and construction are very much interrelated. When designing, there are many factors that should be considered the construction phase of a landscape development.  At the design stage, you should know what materials will be used in construction and how those materials will be used. Ensure that those materials are available, and at a price that is within the planned budget. If not, this is the time to consider other materials that may be used, or to modify the design, if needed, to allow for available resources.

To allow you to make better decisions about construction resources, ensure that the information you have on resources is accurate and current. Information in dated catalogues or files might no longer be valid, as materials can and do go in and out of demand and new materials may become available.  Also, consider the costs and time involved in transporting materials or having them delivered. If you are using sand, soil or gravel, for instance the cost of carting these materials may be the major expense.  Discover what quarries or other providers of materials are closest to the job site, and modify your plan to utilize the sorts of materials available there.


Start with the Topography

If the slopes are not right, water does not drain from the site. This can lead to soil being too wet in some places, not wet enough elsewhere, and in extreme weather events: erosion.

Drainage is necessary where the site holds or catches unwanted to excessive water because of its slope, kind of soil or other factors, and water must be diverted away. Naturally occurring drainage (when water or rainfall run off or from areas) can also contribute to erosion. Any slope over 30 degrees is subject to severe erosion and definitely needs special treatment. Below are some ways of addressing these potential problems.

Methods of reducing erosion to maintain a slope:

  • Mulching   tea tree brush, straw or some other organic material can be held on an embankment by wire strands or mesh attached to pegs.
  • Spray on mulch   a tar mix sprayed on an embankment will stop erosion for a short period but after a few months will wash off virtually completely.
  • Wood cellulose and grass seed mixture   this mixture if sprayed on will stick long enough for the grass seed to germinate and get a hold.
  • Brick, stone, cement walling.

Water can be drained by careful forming of the ground and directing water to collect into surface or sub surface drains.

Once the topography and drainage needs are understood, a garden can be planned for walls, paving, plants and any other structures or features that need to be incorporated into the design.

This course will help refine and extend your skills to do all of this. It is a stand alone course or one that will complement and add to the learning you get from any of our other courses.

Do you have any questions for our Landscaping tutors? If yes, then please click here.

Meet some of our academics

Maggi BrownMaggi is regarded as an expert in organic growing throughout the UK, having worked for two decades as Education Officer at the world renowned Henry Doubleday Research Association. She has been active in education, environmental management and horticulture across the UK for more than three decades. Some of Maggi's qualifications include RHS Cert. Hort. Cert. Ed. Member RHS Life Member Garden Organic (HDRA) .
Diana Cole B.A. (Hons), Dip. Horticulture, BTEC Dip. Garden Design, Diploma Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development, PTLLS (Preparing to Teach in the Life Long Learning Sector), P.D.C. In addition to the qualifications listed above, Diana holds City & Guild construction qualifications and an NPTC pesticide spraying licence (PA1/PA6). Diana runs her own landscape gardening business (Arbella Gardens). Active in many organisations including the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers.
Yvonne SharpeRHS Cert.Hort, Dip.Hort, M.Hort, Cert.Ed., Dip.Mgt. Over 30 years experience in business, education, management and horticulture. Former department head at a UK government vocational college. Yvonne has traveled widely within and beyond Europe, and has worked in many areas of horticulture from garden centres to horticultural therapy. She has served on industry committees and been actively involved with amateur garden clubs for decades.

Check out our eBooks

Garden Design Part 1This stunning full colour Garden Design ebook is full of useful tips, information and inspiration. It contains around 300 colour illustrations! It is comprised of three parts: Design, How a Garden Functions, and Aesthetics (making it look good). Let your inner designer out (outside). A great introductory text for garden designers. 299 high quality inspirational colour photos. 106 pages
Garden Design Part 2Part 2 of the Garden Design series is an inspiring accompaniment to the first book, but works equally well in its own right. It's brimming with ideas and practical advice for designing a wide variety of different gardens. You will learn about different styles of gardens and how to create a style to suit a particular site or client. It contains around 300 colour photos! Knowledge gained by John Mason over several decades of visiting and photographing gardens, writing, teaching and creating gardens. This ebook deals mostly with different types of gardens from water gardens to Mediterranean, formal and oriental. 287 high quality inspirational photos. 104 pages
Getting Work in HorticultureFind out what it is like to work in horticulture; how diverse the industry is, how to get a start, and how to build a sustainable, long term and diverse career that keeps your options broad, so you can move from sector to sector as demand and fashion changes across your working life.
Growing Palms and Palm Like PlantsPalms and palm-like plants are mostly grown as structural plants. They add stunning shapes into a garden that are different to other plants and for that reason alone, stand out and capture our attention, making a garden more interesting. Palms can be more than just architectural forms though; providing shade, colour and texture to a garden. If you choose an appropriate species, they are great indoor plants.