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Introduction To Garden Design

Taught by Hilary Thomas

Many people look back too much. I'm here to help drive fresh, new, imaginative ideas to fit in with the next century.

Course Description

Garden design is all about organising and shaping spaces and it covers many different elements. This eight week course aims to take you logically through the various stages of planning a garden. You will learn how to assess the site site, the soil and the surroundings and how to measure the site and draw up a site survey plan. This will help you to understand the advantages and restraints of the site. The next stage is to create a checklist of requirements and to identify the resources, time and skill that can be devoted to a new garden. This then gives rise to the design brief.

Using a given brief, you will then be taken through the design process, experimenting with different abstract patterns on paper that will inspire a variety of alternative designs for a garden. By shading some areas of the pattern you will create positive and negative spaces, or mass and void which will give the garden its character. The mass will become the planting and the voids may become the patio, lawn or water. Once you have decided on a pattern that you think will work, this can then be combined with a grid that relates to the house so ensuring that the garden will sit comfortably within the site. You can then refine this design theme, drawing it to scale, and creating a preliminary garden layout plan. You will then learn about the range of hard landscape materials and how to select ones that are appropriate for the particular site. We will consider the addition of features such as a pergola or water and where to site a garden shed. Hedges, trees and areas of planting are also indicated on the plan. At the end of the course you should have the skills that will enable you to design your own or someone else’s garden.

Course outline

  • Lesson 1

    An introduction and briefing on the garden design process I'm going to take you through, to enable you to bring your ideas to fruition in both a practical and creatively rewarding way. In this lesson we are going to look at the equipment and basic drawing skills that you will need if you are going to draw your garden design on paper. Your final layout plan needs to be neat, clear nd well organised so that it can be used as a working document, either by you or a contractor.
  • Lesson 2

    In the first lesson I explained that garden design is all about creating geometric patterns on a grid, so in this lesson I am going to take you through the process of choosing and using a grid that relates to a particular house and site. The patterns that you have worked on so far have been developed for an isolated abstract space. Gardens however are rarely isolated – they are usually connected to a house or other building which they should relate to and be developed from.
  • Lesson 3

    In the last lesson we looked at creating geometric patterns on a grid and how these shapes then become the basis for the garden layout plan. In order to ensure that your finished garden design is really successful, there are a few principles or rules that you need to think about when designing any garden or outdoor space. All good design is built around these basic principles and you need to try and consider them as you develop your design.
  • Lesson 4

    In the last lesson we went through the stages that are involved in developing a preliminary garden layout plan when you have to make decisions about where the patio, paths, lawn, water and other structures are to be sited and how much space they will take up. To develop your plan further you now have to be more specific so for each of the elements you need to decide on the type of material that is going to be used and refine all the dimensions.
  • Lesson 5

    Before you can produce an accurate layout plan showing your design for a real garden, you will need to carry out a full assessment of the site and produce an accurate scale drawing of the existing site, called a site survey.
  • Lesson 6

    In this lesson we are going to consider how water, steps and structures such as a pergola or overhead beams can add interest and atmosphere to your garden design.
  • Lesson 7

    In this lesson we consider the importance of boundaries and how the design and materials that you select should fit in with both the location and the design and theme of the garden.
  • Lesson 8

    In this last lesson we look at the extra items such as furniture pots and sculptures that you can use to furnish and enhance the layout of the garden. You will also learn how to to finalise your garden plan so that it clearly expresses and communicates your ideas to you, your family and the contractor.

Choose how you want to learn

  • The Expert option

    Recommended

    Develop your learning further with marked assignments and personal tuition from Hilary Thomas

    • Start course whenever you like
    • 8 weeks tutor access for personalised assignment feedback & coaching
    • 8 assignments marked by Hilary Thomas
    • Certificate of completion from Hilary Thomas
    • Online classroom with up to 20 classmates
    • 8 lessons with expert videos & notes
    • Group chat & direct message with tutor & classmates
    • Lifetime access to videos, notes & classroom
    Learn more
    $499
  • The Peer option

    Discover the benefits of group learning in an online interactive classroom of no more than 20 people. Get the most from shared knowledge and community study

    • Start course whenever you like
    • Practise what you learn with your peers
    • Online classroom with up to 20 classmates
    • 8 lessons with expert videos & notes
    • 8 course assignments
    • Group chat & direct message classmates
    • Lifetime access to videos, notes & classroom
    Learn more
    $199

Learn better together

  • Online classroom

    Start anytime and join a class of no more than 20 students

    Start anytime and join a class of no more than 20 students
  • Test yourself

    Practice what you learn with assignments after each lesson

    Practice what you learn with assignments after each lesson
  • Personal tuition

    Exclusive assignment feedback from Expert Tutors

    Exclusive assignment feedback from Expert Tutors
  • Share

    Share ideas with classmates from around the world

    Share ideas with classmates from around the world

Meet Hilary Thomas

Hilary is a true professional. She has been designing gardens for 25 years and taught students the key techniques as Head of Design at Capel Manor College

Octopus Publishing
Hilary Thomas was Head of the School of Garden Design at the highly regarded Capel Manor College where she taught both Horticulture and Garden and Planting Design for over 20 years. Her students won prestigious medals at the Chelsea and Hampton Court Shows and many went on to establish very successful careers as garden designers. Whilst at Capel Manor she established the first Planting Design Course in the country and her published book The Complete Planting Design Course was a compilation of the course notes. She has been a tutor with my MyGardenSchool since it started and her Professional Planting Design course is popular with students from around the world.

Frequently bought as part of this collection

  • From $1,499

    Garden Design Diploma

    13 courses

    Garden Design Diploma

    Master the entire subject and SAVE 4% when you buy this collection

    13 Courses • Taught by 11 Expert Tutors

    Master the complete range of garden design skills from the biggest names in gardening, including landscape architects Tom Stuart-Smith and Chris Beardshaw, influential Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf and his co-writer Dr Noel Kingsbury, along with acclaimed design lecturer Annie Guilfoyle.

    Whether you want a career change, or are keen to design your own garden under the watchful eye of some of the world's big names in gardening and design, this collection of courses is unrivalled in its level of expertise.

    Our students at Learning with Experts say that it’s the practical elements of our courses that give them real-world insights into how they can succeed in garden design. Whether you’re hoping to upskill in an existing role or thinking of pursuing a new career in garden design, this Garden Design Diploma will give you all the skills you need to help you on your journey.

    The opportunity to have the likes of Tom Stuart Smith casting his eye over your own design plans is not something that you will find anywhere else – and will give you a huge advantage as a newly qualified garden designer. The experts who are on hand to guide you through this process are at the absolute top of their game, and they are keen to help you develop your skills further by giving detailed feedback on any work you submit to the classroom.

    As you progress through these courses, you will explore the principles that underpin good design and how you can apply these to your own ideas. You will tap into your creative side and be encouraged to create your own unique designs under their guidance. All aspects of the profession will be covered, including technical knowledge, artistic tendencies, planting in specific situations and skills in drafting and rendering, allowing you to create professional-quality plans with confidence.

    The course is taught in our friendly and private online classroom, where you will get to know your tutor and classmates. You will have the opportunity to bounce ideas off each other, compare designs and planting plans, discuss difficulties you face and ask your tutor any questions.

    You will receive 2 Continued Education Units (CEUs) for each course in this collection, which are recognised by the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD). This certification is a huge advantage in the marketplace, promoting the recognition of landscape designers as qualified and dedicated professionals.

    Most importantly, you will have an enjoyable learning experience, whilst learning from highly acclaimed and trusted practising designers. Many of our students have gone on to make a hobby into a profession and now have careers in gardening or garden design all over the world.

    Learn more

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