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Landscaping II

Course CodeBHT214
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Develop Your Landscape Design Skills

Basic landscape design is concerned with how to do things like how hard landscape features are made and selecting plants to suit the location. When you have mastered that it is logical to want to expand on that knowledge and learn more about different groups of plants and how to use them, how to overcome problem areas and greater detail of hard landscape construction options.

Improve your knowledge and skills of landscaping with this short, intensive course!

This course concentrates on the detail of creating individual components in a landscape that are the difference between a good and a great garden.

  • Learn to design and build such things as walls, rockeries, steps, ponds, and paving; and you develop skills to create specific effects in a garden.
  • For those working or looking to work in the industry, or enthusiastic gardeners with good basic landscaping knowledge.


Lesson Structure

There are 12 lessons in this course:

  1. The Garden Environment
    • The ecosystem
    • Microclimates
    • What do you want in a garden
    • Components of a garden
    • Landscaping with water
    • Choosing a construction method for a water garden
    • Making a pool with a liner
    • Other types of water gardens
    • Water garden effects
    • Creating a waterfall
    • Cascades
    • Fencing and safety
    • Plants for water gardens
  2. Landscape Materials
    • Tools
    • Tool maintenance
    • Garden clothes
    • Construction materials
    • Concrete and cement
    • How to mix concrete and mortar
    • Reinforcing, rodding, expansion joints
    • Gravel and mulched paths
    • Outdoor furniture
    • Timber: types, stains, paints, preservatives
    • Plastics, Metal, Ulpholstery
    • Furniture design
  3. Using Bulbs, Annuals and other Low Growing Plants
    • Annuals
    • Scented annuals
    • Coloured foliage
    • Flower bed layout
    • Bedding schemes
    • Selecting annuals according to height
    • Annuals in containers
    • Bulbs
    • Scented bulbs
    • Amaryllis
    • Gladioli
    • Narcissus
    • Dahlia
    • Hyacinth
    • Iris
    • Ranunculus
    • Using Herbs
    • Types of herb gardens
  4. Landscaping with Trees
    • Introduction
    • Successions
    • Fast growing trees
    • Choosing plants
    • Trees in the landscape
    • Problems with trees
    • Plant applications for trees, shrubs, ground covers
    • Trees with damaging roots
    • Trees with narrow canopies
    • Aesthetic criteria for planting design
    • Procedure for planting design
  5. Ground Cover Plants
    • Introduction
    • Ground Covers: conifers, climbers, creepers, ornamental grasses
    • Low grasses to grow
    • How to build raised beds
    • Grevilleas
    • Thryptomene
    • Brachysema
    • Chorizema
    • Ardenbergia
    • Kennedya
    • Herbs: Thyme, chamomile, mint, alpine strawberry, etc
    • Landscaping with ferns
  6. Walls and Fences
    • Introduction
    • Getting the style right
    • Different fences
    • Plants to grow on trellis
    • Espaliers
    • Garden arches
    • Choosing the rich arch
    • Timber and metal arches
  7. Paths and Paving
    • Introduction
    • Where to use surfacing
    • Paving: different types of materials
    • Selecting materials
    • Concrete
    • Gravel
    • Asphalt
    • Edging
    • Edging materials
    • Maintaining an edge
    • Aesthetics
  8. Treating Slopes and Other Problem Areas
    • Erosion control
    • Helping plants establish on a slope
    • Drip irrigation, mulches, tree guards
    • Pocket planting, slope serration, wattling, spray seeding, etc
    • Shade
    • Plants suited to shade
    • Ferns and shade
    • Windbreaks, hedges and screens
    • Gardening in coastal areas
    • Design and planting a firebreak
    • Fire resistant plants
  9. Garden Features
    • Colour
    • Complementing colours
    • Outdoor living areas: Patios, seating, garden structures, pool areas, pool surrounds
    • Rockeries
    • Drystone walls
    • Wet walls
    • Garden buildings and structures
    • Siting garden buildings
    • What to build
    • What to do with the floor
    • Planting around a garden building
    • Protective structures
    • Types of greenhouses
    • Decorative planters
    • Choosing and siting a planter
    • Garden lighting
    • Lighting trees, paths, ponds etc
    • Letterboxes
  10. Designing for Low Maintenance
    • Introduction
    • The cost of garden maintenance
    • What costs
    • Expensive to maintain areas or features
    • Less expensive to maintain areas
    • Gardening in dry areas
    • Overcoming dry soils
    • Drought tolerant plants
    • Hardy plants for inner city gardens
  11. Developing a Landscape Plan
    • The site planning process
    • Site analysis
    • Design concept
    • Master plan
    • Keeping it to scale
    • The importance of space
  12. Management of Landscape Projects
    • Introduction
    • Mistakes to avoi
    • Earthmoving
    • Importing soil
    • Workplace safety

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.


  • Determine the resources required for a landscape development, including materials and equipment.
  • Determine appropriate plants for different locations within a landscape.
  • Determine the appropriate design and construction for landscape features, including walls, fences, pavers and buildings.
  • Determine treatments for problem areas in a landscape, including slopes and hostile environments.
  • Analyse maintenance requirements for a landscape.
  • Develop a landscape development plan, in accordance with a client brief, and in liaison with the client.
  • Plan the management of a landscape projects.

What You Will Do

  • Determine landscape materials readily available in the learners locality, including: soils, gravels, mulches and timbers.
  • Differentiate between landscape applications for twenty different types of timber.
  • Compare a range of materials in terms of function and aesthetics, including five types of mulches and five types of gravels.
  • Determine applications for five different specific items of machinery in landscape construction including a chainsaw, an earth moving machine, a rotary hoe and a tractor.
  • List minimum equipment required to construct two different landscapes in accordance with project specifications.
  • Determine criteria for selecting plants to be planted in 3 specified locations.
  • Explain the impact of trees in two specific landscapes, on both the environment and aesthetics of those landscapes.
  • Determine twenty different herbaceous plants, to grow in three different specified locations within the same garden.
  • Prepare a design for an annual flower display bed of 50 sq. metres.
  • List five groundcovers suited to plant in four different situations, including full shade, half shade, full sun and hanging baskets.
  • Prepare a planting design for a 100 sq. metre area of garden, using only groundcovers and trees.
  • List ten trees suited to each of the following cultural situations, in your locality: waterlogged soil; sandy soil; heavy soil; saline soil; fire prone sites and near drainage pipes.
  • Explain local government regulations which are relevant to landscape design and construction.
  • Develop design criteria for different garden structures, in specified situations, including: a pergola, swimming pool, steps and a garden seat.
  • Compare the design and construction of six different types of barriers, including walls and fences.
  • Design a fence for a landscape designed by you, including: construction detail drawing(s), materials specifications and a cost estimate.
  • Compare ten specific surfacing materials, in landscapes visited by you, including paving products, stone and gravel.
  • Design a set of steps, including construction detail drawing(s), materials specifications and a cost estimate.
  • Design a set of retaining walls, including construction, drawings, materials needed and a cost estimate.
  • Compare different types of garden buildings observed by you, including sheds, gazebos, car ports and garages, in terms of cost, durability, aesthetics and maintenance required.
  • Determine two different methods to treat a specified erosion problem.
  • Determine landscape preparations required for different soil types including clay, sand, shale, rocky soil and loam.
  • Describe four interim stabilisation techniques, including hydromulching and jutemaster.
  • List fifteen plant species which will adapt well to problem situations.
  • Determine ten plants suitable for each of a range of different soil types, including: clays, sands, acidic soil and alkaline soil.
  • Develop landscape plans, including illustrations and written instructions, for three difficult sites.
  • Determine landscape features that contribute towards the reduction of maintenance requirement on a landscaped site.
  • Compare the weekly maintenance requirement of a specific low maintenance garden, with that of a specific high maintenance garden.
  • Compile pre-planning information for a an existing landscape, which owners require to be redeveloped in order to reduce the maintenance requirement.
  • Prepare a detailed landscape design to achieve low maintenance.
  • Develop a ten week maintenance program, for a specific landscaped area visited by you.
  • Compare copies of two landscape briefs for projects advertised in the tenders column of a newspaper.
  • Develop a "client" brief, through an interview with a potential landscape client.
  • Survey a landscape site to confirm details in a client brief.
  • Develop three alternative concept plans for a landscape, in accordance with a client brief.
  • Determine the preferred option, from three concept plans presented to a client at a tape recorded meeting.
  • Prepare a detailed landscape design, conforming to decisions made during a discussion of alternative concept plans.
  • Prepare a quotation, based on a specified landscape plan.
  • Analyse the design of a landscape in comparison with the "Brief".
  • Prepare a work schedule according to both specifications and plans.
  • Monitor the progress of landscape work on a project, by keeping a logbook or work diary.
  • Assess standard of work carried out on a completed landscape project, against landscape plans for that project.
  • Select appropriate equipment, including tools and machinery, for a specified project.
  • List occupational health and safety regulations when dealing with machinery and equipment, which is relevant to a specified project.
  • Schedule the supply of materials and equipment for a project, in the logbook.
  • Develop contingency plans for a landscape development which addresses different possible irregularities including bad weather, security problems, weekend watering.
  • Explain how to finalise a specified project prior to handing over.
  • Explain the importance of monitoring a contract, through a specified project.
  • Develop guidelines for supervision of construction for a specified landscape project.


When planning the scale of any garden, you should consider the spaces as well as what you are going to put in it.  Space is an essential component of design and if it is not used properly nothing will work.  For example, if you do not leave gaps between trees the garden will feel hemmed-in.  If you plant trees or bushes too close to windows and doors it will seem like the garden is invading the house.  

You will also have to manipulate space to keep it in proportion.  The space between the two edges of a path in a small garden should be considerably less than the space between the two edges of a path in a large garden.  The path itself can be made to look larger by surfacing it with small pavers or fine shingle. By carefully considering where you choose to site garden objects and the amount of space you leave both between them and around them, you can maintain scale and harmony within your garden.
If you only have a small garden to work with, careful planning becomes even more important.  

Guidelines for creating the illusion of more space
Some of these methods were discussed in earlier lessons. The designer can apply them to create the impression of more space and openness in a small garden, but should also consider the overall design goal. If the client is seeking a small intimate garden, you might still want to use some of these methods to avoid a sense of tightness. Also, using too many devices to create illusions can also create an inauthentic sense and confusion. The designer’s task, therefore, is to balance between the desire for spaciousness and the realities of the garden space that one is working with.

Don’t box yourself in
Make the most of the space you have. Don’t enclose the area with dense small trees. They will make the area seem dull and claustrophobic. Use tall trees to expand the garden upwards. Trees with open foliage such as Eucalypts will let in more sunlight. Deciduous trees are also ideal for these situations.  

Use borrowed landscape

Leave areas open can also allow you to use the ‘borrowed landscape’ – the trees and plants from adjacent properties. But don’t make the garden too open. Plants are needed to screen off any nearby buildings and roads that spoil the views of the garden.  

Choose colours carefully
Light coloured foliage and plants make an area seem brighter and more open. Dark coloured plants will create a sense of enclosure.  Using light and dark coloured foliage together can create the illusion of depth.
If you place light coloured foliage in the foreground and dark foliage in the background, the foreground will be brighter and closer, while the background will appear to move away. For example, you could use low-growing plants such as Convolvulus cneorum, Blue Fescue (Festuca caesia) and the dwarf forms of English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) at the front of the bed. The taller background plantings with dark foliage could include Indian Hawthorn (Rapheolepis indica), Gordonia axillaris (Syn Franklinia axillaris), Viburnum davidii and varieties of rhododendrons and conifers.

Use foliage size to create depth
Using large leaved plants in the foreground and small leaved ones in the background is another way of creating the illusion of depth. Just as plants with large leaves appear to be closer than they really are, plants with small leaves recede into the background. Examples of foreground plants with large leaves include Bergenia cordifolia, Canna Lily, Clivia miniata, Hosta and Cineraria. Small-leaved plants for background plantings include English Box (Buxus sempervirens), Diosma (Coleonema pulchrum), Myrtus communis, and Lillypilly (Syzigium).
When you have a small garden area, you only have room for a limited number of plants, so select them carefully. Solid plantings are more ‘enclosing’ than plants with open foliage, so avoid using ‘hedging’ type plants and select those that have less dense or even see-through foliage.

Consider miniatures
Using smaller versions of familiar plants is another way in which you can make your garden appear bigger. Look for plants that are described as ‘dwarf form’ or have the name ‘nana’ after them. These are specially bred miniature forms of popular plants. Examples:
Lagerstroemia indica ‘Dwarf’ (dwarf Crepe Myrtle)
Melaleuca incana ‘Dwarf’
Chamaecyparis orientalis aurea nana
Nandina domestica ‘Nana’ (dwarf Nandina)

Match containers to their plants
By carefully matching plants to their pot, you can make a small plant seem larger. A large plant in a small container or brightly coloured plant in a dark container will make the plant seem larger than it really is. A similar illusion can be created by having groundcover plants cascade over the side of the pot. But don’t get too carried away with these techniques. Pot plants still need adequate potting mix for their roots to grow.  

Use screens rather than walls and fences
Solid walls and fences can make areas seem more enclosed than barriers of plants. One way to overcome the problem is to place a screen or trellis in front of the wall or fence. This softens the solid wall and if done properly can create the illusion of depth by suggesting that there is another part of the garden behind the screen.
Climbers are another solution. They disguise walls and fences without taking up too much space on the ground. For a small garden, choose the lighter climbers that can be easily kept under control such as Clematis, Hardenbergia, Bluebell Creeper (Sollya heterophylla), Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) and Petrea.

Create garden rooms
A garden will seem larger than it really is when you can’t see all of it at once. A simple trellis or a raised garden bed in the middle of a garden can divide up a garden into different areas or ‘rooms’.  The effect can also be enhanced by using different types of plants or ground surfaces within the different rooms. For example, one area of the garden might have a paved surface with plants in terracotta pots, while the other side of a climber-covered trellis has a lawn area with a fish pond. By creating rooms with different styles or characteristics, you will also increase the potential uses for the garden.   

Use mirrors
Mirrors create the illusion of increased space and light. In a small garden, they can work wonders but they must be positioned carefully to get the right effect. The mirror could be attached to a wall so that it appears there is an opening to another garden room. The effect can be heightened by lining a path with pots leading up to the mirror, and by surrounding the mirror with a false doorway.  Other mirror effects might incle:

  • place a water feature in front of the mirror to double its size
  • place a statue in front of the mirror so you can see it from behind
  • put a mirror at the base of a shallow pool to increase its depth
  • paint the wall a dark colour and have light coloured foliage in front of the mirror to give a feeling of greater space and light
  • position mirrors on angles away from the normal line of vision to capture reflections of foliage

Create false space with Trompe L’oeil
Trompe l’oeil was originally a false scene painted on a wall, such as an archway framing a rural landscape. It manipulates perspective to trick the eye, and in doing so, gives the illusion of space in a confined area. These days trompe l’oeil often just refers to the frame itself, and more specifically a trellis panel used to frame a mural, wall fountain, statue and so on. The trellis panel is designed to draw the eye to its centre, and subsequently onto the feature.   

Frame the View

Because scale is determined by how far you can see, it can be manipulated by the way you frame the view.  For example, you can shape the view from your kitchen window by adding a pergola with a climbing plant.  As you look through the window, the garden beyond the pergola will appear to be further in the distance.


How This Course Could Help You

This course is best suited to people with some existing knowledge of landscape design. However, people with basic construction skills and plant knowledge may also take it.

It could serve as a platform for further study or be taken in conjunction with other modules to enhance your learning experience. The course is of most value to people working in or wishing to work in:

Landscape construction
Garden design
Garden maintenance
Garden restoration or conservation

It could also add to the skillset of people wanting to start a garden design business, or be of value to people wishing to renovate a home garden.


This is an ideal course for anyone who wants to improve their knowledge of landscaping. But if you are not sure if this is the right course for you or you have any questions - please ask.  Our tutors are more than happy to help with any questions.  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

Starting a Garden or Landscape BusinessExpert advice on how to get started in your own garden or landscape business! Packed with valuable business advice, horticultural and landscaping knowledge, and practical ideas - this book is a must have for garden lovers. It is great for anyone thinking about (or already involved in) a horticultural, landscaping or garden business. This updated re-print is only available as an e book. Originally published by Simon & Schuster. 125 pages
Trees and ShrubsA great little encyclopaedia that is valuable for students, tradespeople, or the home gardener needing a quick reference when selecting garden plants. It covers the care and culture of 140 commonly grown genera of trees and shrub, plus many hundreds of species and cultivars. 169 colour photos 94 pages
Plant Pests & DiseasesThis is a great guide to understanding, identifying and treating problems in your garden. Discover how to systematically examine and determine what is wrong with plants. Read about all of the main types of pests, diseases, and other problems that can occur, from frost damage to viruses. 197 pages
Landscaping & Gardening in the ShadeThe ‘Landscaping and Gardening in the Shade’ ebook explain what you need to know about designing a shaded garden. It will go through specific plants you could use, how to care for them and different plant varieties that will give you a great shaded area.