Diploma In Landscaping

Course CodeVHT025
Fee CodeDI
Duration (approx)2100 hours

Become an Exceptional Landscape Designer

Extensive training for an exceptional career a landscape contractor or garden designer. An experiential learning program incorporating lots of practical experience together with sound training in foundation knowledge required for a successful and sustained career. Learn to design all types of landscapes, manage projects and to adapt and confront new problems as they arise.

This course has been developed by a team of highly respected, qualified and experienced landscape professionals from the U.K., Spain, Australia, and several other countries.

Duration: 2100 hours (2 to 3 years full time study or equivalent at your own pace)

Course Structure: This course is made of 21 modules -19 compulsory modules, plus two elective modules.

Module 1. Landscaping I

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 & Contracting - drawing techniques, specifications, details.

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

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

6. Furnishings & 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 & fitness trails.

Module 2. Horticulture I

There are twelve lessons in this course, as follows:

1. Plant Identification: Naming plants; distinguishing the taxonomic divisions of plants including family, genus, species and variety or hybrid; identifying the different parts of a flower; distinguishing the morphological characteristics of leaves.

2. Planting: Planting methods used for different types of plants including annuals, perennials, evergreen and deciduous plants; influence of environmental factors on planting techniques.

3. Soils: Classifying soils; sampling and testing soils; chemical and physical properties of soils; soil improvement techniques; composting; potting mixes.

4. Nutrition: Major and micro elements necessary for plant growth; nutrient deficiencies and toxicities; fertilisers.

5. Water Management: Irrigation systems – characteristics, advantages and disadvantages; drainage systems; waterwise gardening.

6. Pruning: Pruning techniques; importance of pruning to growth, flowering and fruiting; pruning tools.

7. Weeds: Identifying common weeds; characteristics of weeds; control techniques; herbicides.

8. Pests and Diseases: Identifying common insect and disease problems; control methods; Integrated Pest Management; pesticides; hygiene procedures; chemical safety.

9. Landscaping: Stages of landscaping; design procedures; collating pre-planning information; preparing plans; selecting plants for specified sites.

10. Propagation: Asexual and sexual propagation; taking cuttings; sowing seeds; aftercare of propagated plants.

11. Lawns: Turf grass varieties; laying a new lawn; cultural techniques including watering, fertilizing, topdressing, aerating, pest and disease control.

12. Arboriculture: Tree management techniques including pruning, removal and tree surgery; identifying tree problems.

Module 3. Landscaping II

There are twelve lessons in this subject as follows:

1. The Garden Environment

2. Landscape Materials

3. Using Bulbs and Annuals

4. Landscaping with Trees

5. Ground Cover Plants

6. Walls and Fences

7. Paths and Paving

8. Treatment of Slopes and Other Problem Areas

9. Garden Features

10. Designing for Low Maintenance

11. Development of a Landscape Plan

12. Management of Landscape Projects.

Module 4: Landscaping III (Landscape Styles)

There are 10 lessons in this module as follows:

  1. Creating the Mood
  2. Historic Gardens
  3. Formal Gardens
  4. Oriental Gardens
  5. Middle Eastern and Spanish Style
  6. Mediterranean Gardens
  7. Coastal Gardens
  8. Modern Gardens
  9. Eclectic Gardens
  10. Other Styles

Module 5. Plant Establishment and Selection
There are ten lessons as follows:

  1. Introduction
  2. Woody plants
  3. Windbreaks, hedges and screens
  4. Alpine and water plants
  5. Annual and herbaceous plants
  6. Turf
  7. Maintenance
  8. Pest and disease control
  9. Weed control
  10. Risk assessment

Module 6. Landscape Construction

There are ten lessons as follows:
  1. Tools and Machinery
  2. Landscape Plans and Setting out a Construction Site
  3. Drainage in Landscape Construction
  4. Earthworks
  5. Surfaces, Paths, Paving and Turf
  6. Construction of Garden Structures I
  7. Construction of Garden Structures II
  8. Irrigation Systems
  9. Establishing Hedges and Other Plants
  10. Workplace Safety and Management of Landscape Construction Work

Module 7. Horticulture II

There are ten lessons in this course plus one Special Assignment (see later for details). The content of each of the ten lessons is outlined below:

1. The Groups of Plants ‑ setting a framework for the whole subject.

To identify plants from a wide range of taxonomic and cultural groups, using a range of different techniques.

2. Use of Plants ‑ plant selection, soils.

3. Australian Native Plants

To determine techniques for the growing of native shrubs and trees, including the selection, culture and use of different species.

4. Exotic Ornamental Plants

To determine techniques for the growing of exotic ornamental shrubs and trees, including the selection, culture and use of different species.

5. Indoor & Tropical Plants

To determine techniques for the growing of indoor plants, including selection, culture and use of different varieties

6. Bedding Plants

To determine techniques for the growing of bedding plants, including selection, culture and use of different varieties.

7. Vegetables

To develop techniques for the growing of edible crop plants, including selection, culture and use of vegetables, fruit, berries and nuts (Part A).

8. Fruits, Nuts & Berries

9. Herbs

10. Alternative Growing Techniques ‑ hydroponics, container growing, terrariums. Determine appropriate applications for a range of alternative growing methods.

Module 8. Horticulture & Research I

The course contains seven lessons:

1. Determining Research Needs

2. Searching for Information

3. Research Methods

4. Using Statistics

5. Conducting Statistical Research

6. Research Reports

7. Reporting on a Research Project

Module 9. Water Gardening

There are eight lessons as follows:

1. Introduction: Scope & Nature of water features, water quality, plants & animals in water, etc.

2. Construction

3. Equipment: Pumps, Lights, Filters etc.

4. Ponds, watercourses, bog gardens, dams –Design & Aftercare.

5. Spas and Swimming Pools –Design & After care

6. Water Features –Indoor & Outdoor –Fountains, Waterfalls, Fish tanks, ponds etc

7. Water Plants

8. Aquatic Animals

Module 10. Playground Design

There are eight lessons in this unit as follows:

1. Overview of Parks & Playgrounds

2. Playground Philosophy

3. Preparing a Concept Plan

4. Materials

5. Park & Playground Structures and Materials

6. Local and Neighbourhood Parks

7. Community Participation In Park Development

8. Special Assignment.

Module 11. Planning Layout and Construction of Ornamental Gardens

There are eight lessons in this unit as follows:

1. Overview of Parks & Playgrounds

2. Playground Philosophy

3. Preparing a Concept Plan

4. Materials

5. Park & Playground Structures and Materials

6. Local and Neighbourhood Parks

7. Community Participation In Park Development

8. Special Assignment.

Module 12. Cottage Garden Design

There are eight lessons as follows:

1. Introduction To Cottage Gardens

2. History Of Cottage Gardens

3. Design Techniques and Drawing Plans

4. Plants For Cottage Gardens

5. Planting Design In Cottage Gardens

6. Landscape Features and Components

7. Cottage Gardens Today

8. Special Assignment - Design Of A Complete Garden.

Module 13. Permaculture Systems

The course is divided into eight lessons as follows:

1. Permaculture Principles

2. Natural Systems

3. Zone & Sector Planning

4. Permaculture Techniques

5. Animals in Permaculture

6. Plants in Permaculture

7. Appropriate Technologies

8. Preparing a Permaculture Plan

Module 14. Horticultural Management

There are ten lessons in this course as follows:

1. Horticultural Business Structures

2. Management Theories and Procedures

3. Horticulture & The Law

4. Supervision

5. Financial Management

6. Staff Management

7. Improving Plant Varieties

8. Productivity and Risk

9. Managing Physical Resources

10. Developing an Horticultural Business Plan


Module15. Natural Garden Design

There are 8 lessons in this course as follows:

1. Introduction to Natural Gardens.

2. History of Natural Gardens

3. Developing Concept Plans

4. Plants for Natural Gardens

5. Planting Design in Natural Gardens

6. Natural Garden Features

7. Natural Gardens Today

8. Bringing It All Together.


Module 16. Project Management

There are nine lessons as follows:
  1. Introduction
    Understanding what project management is, and what its applications might be.
  2. Project Identification
    Identification and defining projects which need management.
  3. Project Planning
    Developing a strategy and framework for the plan.
  4. Project Implementation
    Managers duties during implementation, developing a Preparation Control Chart,
    Regulating implementation.
  5. Project Completion & Evaluation
    Dangers in this stage, Steps in Project completion, Declaring a project sustainable,
    Developing an evaluation method.
  6. Technical Project Management Skills
    Preparing a proposal, budget control/management, steps in drawing up a
    post project appraisal.
  7. Leadership Skills
    Styles of leadership, leadership principles and methods.
  8. Improving Key Personnel Skills
    Listening skills, Negotiation skills, Conflict management.
  9. Major Assignment
    Developing full documentation for a project.


Module 17. Restoring Established Ornamental Gardens

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

Module 18. Horticulture & Research II
There are 7 lessons in this module as follows:
1. Identifying research issues and determining research priorities.
2. Acquisition of technical information
3. Specialised research techniques
4. Research planning and designing
5. Statistics
6. Conducting research
7. Writing reports


Module 19. Workshop I

This course uses PBL (problem-based learning) study projects to develop a "real world" relevance in your overall learning experience

There are 3 lessons in this module as follows:

1. Workplace Tools, Equipment and Materials: Identifying and describing the operation of tools and equipment used in the workplace; routine maintenance of tools and equipment; identifying and comparing materials used in the workplace; using different materials to perform workplace tasks.

2. Workplace Skills: Determining key practical skills in the workplace; identifying and comparing commonly-performed workplace tasks; determining acceptable standards for workplace tasks; implementing techniques for improving workplace efficiency.

3. Workplace Safety: Identifying health and safety risks in the workplace; complying with industry OH&S standards; developing safety guidelines for handling dangerous items

Modules 20 and 21.

plus two relevant electives from horticulture or another area of study of value to people working in landscaping.

For example … Advanced Permaculture; Carpentry; Irrigation – gardens; Trees for Rehabilitation; Horticultural Marketing; Plant Ecology; Conifers; Roses; Perennials; Australian Natives I; Tropical Plants; Photoshop; Starting a Small Business.

Opportunities for Graduates

The landscaping profession is a diverse industry that covers design, creation and management of all types of landscapes, from natural to formal; commercial and large scape public landscapes, to small and large private landscapes.
Some landscapers find employment for government authorities or institutions such as charities or the national trust; while others may establish their own business enterprise, or join a firm, perhaps specializing in a particular type of garden, or maybe a certain type of service (eg. Design of home gardens, Contracting and contruction, Garden restoration, or something else).
Each sector of the industry is always undergoing change, and like many other "creative" industries, landscaping can be subject whatever is fashionable at the time.
Consider how the parks sector of this industry has changed, and continues to change over time.
Modern Parks
Today’s parks are mostly within cities where they provide a place for city dwellers to escape from the masses to contemplate or to perhaps engage in some form of recreation. Sometimes parks serve as an important part of the cityscape (e.g. Belvedere, Vienna). At other times they are separated from the city by walls, hedges, or trees or they may include a city view or views. Those of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens in London, which formerly were secluded and offered glimpses of the city buildings and Kensington Palace which complemented the scale of the landscape, are now overshadowed by skyscrapers and road traffic. Similarly, Regent’s Park as designed by Repton still blends with Nash’s buildings, but is surrounded by flowing traffic and the original design is interrupted by the interjection of colourful flower beds. The sweeping flow of St James’s Park in London has suffered a similar fate with flower beds being cut into the turf along the water’s edge.

Buildings have often been used to form part of the park’s composition to good effect. The café alongside the Serpentine River in Hyde Park blends with the sweeping landscape. Nevertheless, overuse of buildings, flower beds, and rockeries can detract from the overall image of these parks which emerged from the landscape tradition.
One of the problems with the original landscape parks is that they were never intended to host the huge numbers of people who visit them today. As such, they can be difficult to adapt to today’s needs. Successful modern parks have adapted the principles of the landscape tradition so as to accommodate large crowds. In doing so, the existing contours of the site are used extensively, or new ones introduced in the design, so as to maintain a sweeping flow of grass which is the essence of the landscape garden. Sometimes, however, the need for many paths and walkways can break up the all important flow of the design. 

The gardens of some other countries have proved easier to adapt to accommodate today’s crowds because their original design was intended to allow for many people. In particular, the French gardens of formal design were built with this in mind. Crowds were contained within the layout of the garden in such a way that they became part of the composition.

Nevertheless, this has not resulted in a return to the formality of geometric design as the only solution to park design. An example of a successful park is the Tivoli Garden in Copenhagen which was based on an informal design. It includes brick flower beds each with a fountain and mature trees planted irregularly. Another example is the Liseberg Gardens in Gothenberg where there are transparent structures set at different levels enabling many people to view the park at the same time and giving the illusion that the park is bigger than it actually is. The buildings are raised and reached by steps and the ground area is paved with areas of grass. Trees and flower beds have been added informally to complete the composition.  Overall the buildings and spaces of the park form a pattern of interrelationships.     

Factors Influencing the Development of Parks
The two most important concepts underlying park design are recreation and aesthetics. Although trees are often used as noise barriers to create an atmosphere of refuge they are also important for masking buildings from the park. Along with grassed areas and flowers the trees also contribute to the aesthetic beauty of the park. Park systems in which the recreational areas and aesthetic areas are interlinked tend to work best. In this way, playing fields can be bordered by trees and paths which lead to the next area which might be a café or animal sanctuary. This may then lead on to a rose garden, and so on. Each area connects with the next to provide continuity. Watercourses, which also offer aesthetic beauty, have also been used in this way to unite the different areas of a park. A large scale example of the interconnection of spaces is that of Hyde Park, Regents Park, Kensington Gardens and St James’s Park in London. The stream which flows through these parks becomes the Serpentine River in Hyde Park and finally the lake in St James’s Park.

Parks today must accommodate an array of activities including: sports, playgrounds, boating, skateboarding, bicycles, rollerblading, walking, and areas to sit and relax. Over the course of time, with increasing city populations, people now, more than ever, choose the park as a means to escape from city life. With the increase in the use of parks for recreational activities have come a host of new challenges in park design. New materials have been used for different types of playing surfaces which are far removed from the turf of the traditional landscape garden. These include hard court tennis grounds, concrete cricket pitches, asphalt running tracks, and so on. Some playing surfaces such as running and cycle tracks may be contained within a sports hall or stadium which can be blended into the park system.

Tennis courts are typically placed alongside each other and cannot have trees overhanging them. They also have very high fences around them and the hard surfaces are not aesthetically pleasing. They also have to be positioned correctly in terms of sunlight and for spectators and other players to watch. Good park designs have overcome the problem of including tennis courts by screening them from the landscape with the use of trees or hedges. If the screens follow the natural flow of the landscape rather than merely separate the area, then they blend in well.

Bowling greens are easier to incorporate into the park design because the lush grass playing surface blends with the green of the park. They are usually positioned away from paths where there will be less passing traffic to spoil the playing surface.  

Children’s playgrounds are generally noisy and untidy areas and therefore are usually at least partially screened.

Although an interconnecting pattern of park design works on the large scale by uniting different areas, it is has been more difficult where space is limited. As parks have evolved, paths have been widened to accommodate many people as well as bicycles and push chairs. There are also plenty of seats included and seats are placed so as to provide some sort of view whether near or distant. There has been something of a shift from the specialised park to those which offer a multitude of uses in terms of aesthetics and recreation, but which still retain their own appeal.  
Streetscapes and other Public Landscapes
In many towns and cities the trees and shrubs of private gardens can offer as much, or more, in terms of aesthetic appeal as do the parks. Passing views of the patios in Spanish gardens, the flowers of English cottage gardens, window boxes of Austrian gardens, and the terraces of Italian gardens all add to the enjoyment of the streetscape.

Other areas where access is permitted add even more to the streetscape. The Quads and Backs of Oxford and Cambridge, respectively, serve to create an intermingling of private, public and academic landscapes. The universities of many countries have landscaped grounds which intersperse with the surrounding areas. Typically these are vast sites which include buildings and sports fields. The more successful landscapes intertwine the practical with the aesthetic. Car parks are screened and pathways are direct but the unity of the landscape elements is maintained.

Other sites may contain a series of interrelated quadrangles, based on the older style of Oxford and Cambridge, such as that at the University of Perth in Western Australia. In this case a series of courtyards provide links to different buildings. They also form a communal walkway to the Swan River where there is a path that runs alongside the river. The sports fields and car parks are set out either side of the main path from which they can be reached but they do not interfere with the public walkway. Native plants and trees have been used to provide privacy and to frame the buildings.

In another example, the University of York has many paths which weave between the buildings serving to unite them and provide a level of intimacy. The paths also lead down to a lake and park which become part of the overall landscape and are open for members of the public.

Churchyards also form an important part of the public landscape. They have developed as not just a place to bury the deceased but also as places to meet and socialise. Typically they have been designed to reflect the character of the individual site on which they are placed. Many large urban churchyards such as those at Stoke Newington, Highgate, and Hampstead in London have also become wildlife sanctuaries as well as areas of historical and architectural interest. The grounds of cathedrals tend to be larger and more open to accommodate larger crowds but they still retain an air of dignity and privacy from the hustle and bustle of city life. In either case, the emphasis in design is very much one of simplicity to allow for quiet contemplation and to admire the memorial stones.

Crematoriums, which have risen in popularity in recent decades, represent another form of public open space. In Scandinavia they have developed as a landscape art form in their own right following Asplund’s crematorium design in Stockholm. As with churchyards they have usually evolved as simple designs incorporating a chapel and lawn.

The boom in the horticulture industry in the latter part of the twentieth century and now in the twenty first century has resulted in the growth of botanic gardens. The famous Royal Botanic Garden at Kew in London was originally set out by Capability Brown in the landscape tradition. The gardens have since expanded and adapted to include an arboretum. The tree collection has evolved to into a landscape of woodlands and open meadows and the ground has been contoured to provide rhythm to the scene as well as a sense of unity. There is also a collection of acid loving plants which is based on similar land contouring but on a much smaller scale.

In Australia the Melbourne Botanic Gardens which was designed at the end of the eighteenth century by William Guilfoyle is also based on the English landscape garden. The garden contains a valley to provide intimacy and is carefully constructed to include botanic collections and plenty of space for the public to wander around. The overall composition is one which portrays a beautiful rural landscape within a city setting.      
The latter part of the twentieth century also witnessed the introduction of conservation parks to urban landscapes. These involve establishing native plants on native soils and they have emerged due to the dwindling numbers of wildlife species in the countryside due to man’s expansion and intervention. However, these parks need protection to encourage native plants to grow and are not designed to cater for large crowds of people. Sometimes fence lines have been used to segregate areas for conservation whilst still allowing the public to take glimpses of the area from adjoining accessible parklands. Unfortunately, there is often only room for conservation parks if the needs for public parks and other open public spaces have been met. Therefore, in most cities, conservation parks tend to be situated around the city boundaries where they meet with the natural environment. In many cases these may comprise of natural woodland areas in which the public can roam as well wildlife reserves where access is limited. In this way, the landscape can be seen to change from the more formal inner city parklands and streetscapes through to the more naturalistic settings on the city fringes which link the city with the countryside.
Becoming a Landscape Professional
This course is an excellent starting point. It is diverse and comprehensive, and lays a very broad foundation which can allow you to adapt to wherever the industry might take you.  At 2,100 hours of study, this is a very substantial committment, longer than what many other diploma courses might be; but as such, it will teach you far more than what you may learn in many other diplomas.
Consider the committment seriously before enrolling.
Contact us and talk with a landscape professional who is also a tutor.
If you have doubts about making such a heavy committment, ask us about other options. We have lots!
You can undertake a 600 hour certificate first for instance, and still have the option of upgrading to this diploma later on, with 600 hours (6 modules) taken off your diploma when you upgrade.

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