Discover what it takes to Recreate Old Gardens

Garden restoration involves trying to return a garden to a similar state to how it was originally conceived. For some gardens old records may be relatively easy to find. For instance, if the design was created by a designer of merit the materials may be archived in a private collection or library.

Garden restoration for professionals 

Learn to survey, analyse and plan sensitive and appropriate renovation of established gardens. This module:
  • Assumes students possess a basic knowledge of landscaping and horticulture.
  • Is a valuable study program for those who work in landscaping but seek a deeper and broader knowledge of garden renovation.
  • Has been developed by professionals in both Australia and the UK with the aim of being relevant throughout the world.

Learn about Garden Restoration

Restoring established gardens is not always a simple task. The original planting design of any garden will commonly change over time. When you are faced with the task of restoring an old garden, it may be a significant challenge to discover and recreate plantings as close to the original design as possible. You must, as far as possible, determine what was previously planted and how it was arranged. This might involve accessing old records such as plant lists or plans where they exist, or old photographs.

Learn to bring gardens back to their original glory

This course is a thorough introduction to restoring old gardens and gardens of historical significance. Learn some garden history to help you evaluate garden styles and cultural influences. Discover how to survey sites and record important information and how to apply historical data to decision making over which plants and landscape features need to be retained or restored. Learn to plan garden restoration projects and bring old gardens back to life.     


There are 8 lessons in this module as follows:

  1. Landscape History & Design Styles
  2. Surveying the Site
  3. Assessment of Plantings and Features
  4. Selecting Components for Retention
  5. Work Programming and Risk Management
  6. Drainage
  7. Hard Landscape Feature Restoration
  8. Planting Restoration and Maintenance


  • Outline the history of UK garden design and the influence of plant introductions.
  • Evaluate an established ornamental garden in order to determine any particular design style period, or plants of interest.
  • Describe basic methods for the survey and recording of the layout and content of an established garden, and explain the importance of detailed information including assessment of site factors.
  • Explain processes and the need for assessment and recording of the type, condition and future potential of a range of plantings and features in an ornamental garden.
  • Explain the main criteria used to select plantings and features for retention in a restored garden.
  • Explain the need and processes of analysis of collected information.
  • Prepare a summarised programme for organisation of garden restoration work
  • Assess risk and identify safe work practices
  • Recognise and explain the visible signs of the failure of old land drainage systems and describe remedial measures
  • Describe and explain the practical procedures necessary for the restoration of a range of hard landscape features.
  • Explain problems which may be encountered in the improvement of retained hedges, plantings and lawns.
  • Describe practical solutions for improving retained hedges, plantings and lawns
  • Evaluate the use of modern maintenance techniques in established gardens

What Causes Gardens to Deteriorate?
Gardens are full of plants and other living things that are constantly growing, moving, and dying. Even non living things are continually changing. Wind and rain are always moving, soil erodes and structures deteriorate.

If changes in a garden are not controlled through routine maintenance; the garden is almost certainly going to change in ways you may not prefer. To repair such changes will always require significant effort, through a restoration.

Erosion is but one example of how a landscape can change

Soil erosion which is the movement of soil particles from one place to another by wind or water is considered to be a major environmental problem throughout much of the world.  Erosion has been going on through most of earth's history and has given us our river valleys and shaped our hills and mountains.  

Such erosion is generally slow, however the action of man has caused a rapid expansion in the rate at which soil is eroded ie. a rate faster than natural weathering of bedrock material produces new soil material.  This has resulted in loss of productive soil from crop and grazing land, layers of infertile soils being deposited on formerly fertile crop lands, the formation of gullies, silting of lakes and streams and mass land slips.  Man has the capacity for major destruction of our landscape and soil resources.  Hopefully man also has the ability to prevent and overcome these problems.

Causes of Human Erosion
Traffic –cars, trucks etc can disturb soil and increase vulnerability to rain, wind and flood, etc
Poor agricultural or horticultural practices such as ploughing soil too poor to support cultivated plants or ploughing soil in areas where rainfall is insufficient to support continuous plant growth.
Exposing soil on slopes.
Removal of forest vegetation.
Altering the channel characteristics of streams causing bank erosion. 
Causing increased peak water discharges (increased erosion power) due to changes in hydrological regimes by such means as improving the efficiency of channels (channel straightening), reducing evapotranspiration losses as a consequence of vegetation removal, and by the production of impervious surfaces such as roads, footpaths etc. preventing infiltration into the soil so causing increased water runoff into streams.

The two types of erosion are:
  1.  Water erosion
  2.  Wind erosion

With water erosion soil particles are detached by either splash erosion caused by raindrops or by the effect of running water.  Several types of water erosion are common in our landscapes.  These are:

a. Sheet erosion   where a fairly uniform layer of soil is removed over an entire surface area.  This is caused by splash from raindrops with the loosened soil generally transported in rills and gullies.

b. Rill erosion   this occurs where water runs in very small channels over the soil surface. The abrading effect of the transported soil particles continually causes deeper incision of the channels into the soil surface.  Losses consist mainly of surface soil.

c. Gully erosion   this occurs when rills flow together to make larger streams.  They tend to become deeper with successive flows of water and can become major obstacles to cultivation.  Gullies only stabilize when their bottoms become level with their outlets.

d. Bank erosion   erosion of stream and river banks.  It can be very serious at times of large floods and causes major destruction to property such as buildings, roads and bridges.

Opportunities After Your Studies

This course is likely to be of value to people who have an interest in garden restoration or conservation. It will also appeal to anyone with a general interest in garden history and design.

People who take this course are most likely those working in or aspiring to work in:

Garden restoration
Garden conservation
Garden design
Parks & gardens
Botanical gardens
Garden maintenance

The course will also be of value to people wishing to include garden restoration as a service within an existing gardening or landscaping business.


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