Start Your Journey into Landscaping Here

The garden landscape incorporates both soft and hard features. Soft landscaping is concerned with trees, shrubs, lawns, and living components. Hard landscaping is concerned with the solid features such as paths, paving, walls and structures. Most competent landscapers and gardeners have an understanding of both soft and hard landscaping.

Learn to think like a garden designer

In this course you will learn about how to take pre-planning information on site, the principles of garden design, what makes different garden styles, creating drawings, constructiion methodology behind different types of walls and surfaces, use of landscape features, applying knowledge to garden and park design, and perceptual tricks designers use to make use of garden space.

Learn to Design Gardens

We are all familiar with gardens and other manmade landscapes, but many people do not have the knowledge to fully understand how to create the different components of these different landscapes. As well as choosing appropriate plants to meet the local climate and soil conditions landscaping is concerned with design and construction. 

What is Landscape Design?

Landscape Design is a multifaceted skill. It allows you to take a vision or "feeling" and transform it into a workable plan. It isn't just making a place look nice, nor mass planting, but is also about suiting the landscape to the climate, land and setting that you have to work with. An understanding of plants, soils, timbers, climate, and other landscape materials are pivotal to the success of a good landscape design.

ACS Student comment: "[The course] gave me an insight into a subject that I have been interested in for a long time. Plus it has helped me in my current job with a local landscape/nursery company. [The structure] was done in a way which was very easy to understand and this helped when you hit a subject which was hard to get a grip with.. All feedback from the tutors was very constructive and helpful." (David Painter, Landscaping 1, UK)



The ten lessons are as follows:

1. Basic Design Procedure A. - collecting pre-planning information, landscape elements, principles, etc.

2. History of Gardening, garden styles and themes, famous designers, garden influences.

3. Draughting and Contracting -drawing techniques, specifications, details.

4. Basic Landscape Construction -timber, steps, retainer walls, pathways, play structures, etc.

5. Surfacings -concrete, asphalt, gravels, mulches, grasses, gradients, etc.

6. Furnishings and Features -chairs, statues, figurines, birdbaths, skateboards, safety, etc.

7. Park Design A - good/bad park design characteristics, recreational landscaping.

8. Home Garden design -good/bad garden design characteristics.

9. Design Procedure B -development of concept plans and detailed planting plans.

10. Park Design B -development of park design, fun and fitness trails.

Plus A Special Assignment -comprehensive landscape design development.


On successful completion of the course you should be able to do the following:

  • Understand, describe and create visual effects in a garden, through the use of different landscape design concepts.
  • Collect appropriate pre-planning information required to prepare a landscape design.
  • Determine appropriate garden styles for different landscape gardens, in a way that will satisfy specifications for a design project.
  • Illustrate a landscape design through plans, using legible graphic skills.
  • Determine and describe different hard landscape features, including earthworks, surface treatments and furniture, to incorporate in a landscape.
  • Prepare planting designs for different landscapes.
  • Prepare plans for several different types of landscapes, including domestic gardens and public parks

Course Duration
  100 hours



Here are just some of the things you may be doing:
  • Explain the complete range of principles, elements and concepts used in landscape design.
  • Visit and analyse a broad range of landscape styles, themes and components.
  • Perform methods utilised to develop concepts and to create affects.
  • Identify, record and utilise pre-planning information for the purpose of design development, and to use a checklist as a guide for surveying a site for a proposed design.
  • Perform site survey and client interview with the site owner/manager.
  • Explain the significance of effective client liaison, in a specific landscape job.
  • Identify historical influences on landscaping in your locality.
  • Explain the influence on modern garden design, of work by three garden designers who have been prominent in world garden history.
  • Develop and compare the appropriateness of three design options for one specific landscape project.
  • Draw an extensive range of different landscape symbols on paper, covering soft and hard landscape features.
  • Transpose two different landscape drawings, reducing the scale by a specified amount.
  • Draw a plan for a landscape, using legible graphic techniques.
  • Determine site preparations required for a specified landscape site, including: *clearing/cleaning *earthworks.
  • Explain the legal requirements for cleaning up after a job in your locality.
  • Determine suitable timbers for construction of four different types of garden structures.
  • Compare the suitability of different materials for surfacing paths, including: *asphalt *concrete *local gravels *local mulches *timber *ceramics.
  • Collect, catalogue and determine appropriate use for different items of garden furniture.
  • Design a paved area for a garden surveyed, including: scale drawings and construction instructions.
  • Prepare a plant collection of at least eighty different plants incorporating: *Pressed plant specimens, Scientific and common names and Cultural details *How to use each of these plants in different landscape situations uses.
  • Evaluate established landscapes based in:   *costs *maintenance *function *aesthetics
  • Develop detailed planting designs, including plant lists, for three landscape plans, to satisfy given job specifications.
  • Analyse and compare the landscape designs of numerous selected homes and public parks.
  • Develop and prepare concept plans for landscape areas such as:  *outdoor living area *kitchen garden *courtyard *children's playground *entry to home *neighbourhood park
  • Draft a series of four conceptual plans, showing stages in the design of a home garden surveyed.
  • Prepare a professional standard landscape design for a client in the learner's locality, including:  *a landscape plan drawn on tracing paper.  *Materials specifications, including types and quantities.  *Budget details.

How To Design a Functional Home Garden

No matter where you live, there's nothing better than a backyard barbeque, a swim in your own pool, or to peacefully read a good book in the privacy of your own garden oasis. 

For some people gardening is a hobby, and the job of creating and maintaining a garden is in itself a very enjoyable and relaxing pastime. For others, having a garden you need to maintain can be a difficult chore and for these people, the garden should be designed for low maintenance. 

No matter how large or small you garden space there are ways to make use of every centimetre of space and set it up so you can enjoy and make full use of it.

Most newer housing subdivisions offer smaller blocks that the old fashioned quarter acre of the subdivisions common from the 1940’s to around the 1970’s or 1980’s in many built up suburban and regional subdivision areas. 

With many people choosing to move to the country this gives choices of block sizes from acreage to a one acre block or the smaller sizes found in metropolitan surburbia of as little as 400 sqr metres.
A new home on a clear block poses a different set of circumstances to an existing house with its garden on a block. 

For new home owners careful consideration should be given to the block and the placement fo the house on the block prior to starting building or even choosing the type of home for the block. How you place the home on the block can make a great deal of difference to the success of energy efficiency and the type of plants you are going to plant, where you place them and the layout of paths, entertainment areas, children’s play areas and so on  and how you garden and set up the garden. Good planning can make a substantial difference to the microclimate of a block, the energy efficiency of the home, water use and productivity of the garden. All of these will have a direct influence on the overall budget from week to weak and year to year.

Often a garden has to be developed in stages because:

a/ The money or budget needed isn't available to do it all at once.
b/ Other work must be done first (i.e. A sewerage main is to be laid, a shed erected, or a building extended).

Undeveloped, or underdeveloped parts of the garden might be screened with fast growing plants or a temporary fence until they are able to be completed. Sheets of shade cloth on steel stakes, trellis fencing for example, can be cheap temporary measure for screening and it may be possible with careful thought to reuse theses later on in the garden or property design somewhere.

Areas designated for paving, garden beds or water gardens might be grassed to provide a reasonable appearance until the time is right to finish the development. This will help to keep control of dust blowing about the site in summer and tramping through mud everywhere in winter.

As with anything it is always a good idea to start with a plan. List out everything you want to include in the garden now and in the future and arrange these things in order from your highest priority, to your lowest. (NB: The low priority item might be low because it's expensive, not necessarily because you want it any less). Try to take in to account what changes may occur in the family, such as beginning a family, varying children’s needs as they age from sandpit, to room to play sporting games, to room for them to entertain their own friends and have a party or barbeque. It there room for ball games? Is there room for a pool? Where is the sunniest spot for a pool? What about a dog run or a cage for the cat or other pets, is there room, where on the site would be the best place to locate them and where can it be relocated to if needed in a few year’s time? Do you need to leave space in case you extend the house in a few year’s time? You would not want to have the cost of having large trees professionally removed because you had planted them where the extension would go. 

Your "prioritized" list might be something like this:

1.  Washing line
2.  BBQ
3.  Lawn or mulch to keep the mud and dust down
4.  Fences on boundaries
5.  Trees for shade
6.  Shrubs to screen the neighbour’s houses
7.  A range of plants to provide cut flowers for indoors 
8.  A space garden setting for eating outside (usually this needs to be close to the house)
9.  Paved pathways for access in wet weather
10. A paved patio area
11. Play area and sandpit for toddlers
12. Space for children’s ball games
13. A vegetable garden
14. A garden shed
15. An ornamental pond
16. A swimming pool
17. Area or pet cages such as dog run, aviary, etc.

A well-planned garden will eventually accommodate everything on your list. It may take time to evolve though, consider the garden's development as an evolutionary process over many years. At any stage of that evolutionary process the garden should still be aesthetically pleasing and functional for you and your family and friends.


Where you Could Go From Here

This course is a solid introduction to landscaping. It serves as an ideal foundation for people wishing to work in landscaping. It will not lead to a construction license but should provide basic skills needed to undertake small scale landscaping projects which do not require council approval.  

It could serve as a platform for further study or be taken in conjunction with other modules to enhance your learning experience. People who should take this course are those working in or wishing to work in:

Landscape construction
Landscape design
Garden design
Garden maintenance
Garden restoration or conservation

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