Advanced Certificate in Garden Design

Course CodeVHT082
Fee CodeAC
Duration (approx)900 hours
QualificationAdvanced Certificate

Design Better Gardens

Designing a garden is not just about improving the appearance or broader quality of an environment for the sake of the environment it is also about improving the lives of people and animals living within it.

Learn to design better gardens that function well for the needs of the 21st century.


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Advanced Certificate in Garden Design.
 Cottage Garden Design BHT110
 Landscaping I BHT109
 Plant Selection And Establishment BHT107
 Landscaping III (Landscaping Styles) BHT235
 Natural Garden Design BHT215
 Planning Layout and Construction of Ornamental Gardens BHT242
 Water Gardening BHT307
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 2 of the following 16 modules.
 Azaleas And Rhododendrons VHT106
 Brick, Stone and Concrete Masonry BSS101
 Carnivorous Plants VHT107
 Carpentry BSS100
 Horticultural Research A BHT118
 Landscape Construction BHT111
 Starting a Small Business VBS101
 Conifers BHT230
 Deciduous Trees BHT224
 Irrigation - Gardens BHT210
 Landscaping II BHT214
 Permaculture Systems BHT201
 Roses BHT231
 Scented Plants BHT229
 Biophilic Landscaping BHT343
 Perennials BHT316

Note that each module in the Advanced Certificate in Garden Design is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.

Garden Design Requires Knowledge of All Components

There are two sides to landscape design.

  • The way we organise the non living parts of the garden (e.g. soil, rock, timber, concrete, etc) is called 'hard landscaping'.
  • The organisation of the living plants is called 'soft landscaping'.

Without proper attention to BOTH, the garden will have flaws. The hard landscape will affect the health and success of the soft landscape. The plants you choose to use can also affect the structure and longevity of the hard landscape.

This course deals with both.

When designing better gardens we need to consider many aspects and comfort to the user, sustainable design and improving quality of life are just a few considerations.  

Air quality, both indoors and outdoors (when compromised) affects our well-being and behaviour but can be improved by introducing a green roof or a living wall. This has a positive effect on the quality of the air but also on the people living or working inside the building. Researchers suggest that, other positive impacts other than improved air quality and added oxygen levels on people working in biophilic spaces include improved aesthetics and improved production levels. 

Advances in biophilic design to improve working conditions or conditions within public space are small but consistent.  Some public hospitals for example are including indoor garden courtyards for their patients and staff. According to research this is not only improving the working conditions and psychological health of its workers - patients utilising these spaces are said to make a faster recovery. Improvements to working conditions, such as this, help the employer as much as it does the worker and patient, by improving productivity, lessening down-time for sick days creating a faster turn-around (in relation to public hospitals) of patients and freeing up hospital beds more quickly.  Biophilic designs create a healthy productive environment.

A solid course helps to lay the foundations of great design

Some garden design schools emphasise teaching you the structural 'hard landscaping skills'. Others emphasise teaching you about the plants, but are weaker in teaching you about hard landscaping.  If you are only working on hard landscaping (e.g. earth moving, drainage and paving); you may only need to know about the hard landscape; and if you are specialising in planting design, you may not need to know as much about hard landscaping. For most landscape professionals though; it is wise to develop a strong knowledge in both.

  • Often landscape architects are criticized for not knowing enough about plants, and as result choose inappropriate plants for a particular situation.
  • Tradesmen who carry out hard landscape work are often criticised for making serious mistakes in their handling of plants, particularly valuable mature trees.
  • If you are constructting a roof garden the plants you choose to use will depend upon climatic, structural and aesthetic considerations for the roof or wall.

A substantial course for a substantial head start in your professional expertise and career.

People often ask us why they should choose to undertake a longer course, rather than a shorter one; and whether a shorter course is good enough to develop a career in landscaping.

A landscaper who is at the top of their game will be able to identify and describe well over 1,000 different plants, and will be very knowledgeable with both hard and soft landscaping.

  • If you undertake a longer course, you won't need to learn as much after your course in order to reach that level of expertise.
  • If you undertake a shorter course, you will need to learn a lot more through professional development programs and experience, after completing your course

The person who undertakes more substantial study early in their career therefore, is usually more likely to progress further, sooner, after they complete their studies.



  • Garden designers and those looking to start a career in this field
  • Landscapers
  • Nursery staff
  • Garden centre owners and employees
  • Gardeners wanting to move into garden design or offer design as part of their business





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