The Garden Design - Level 3 Course is a positive step in taking control of how you can plan and create your garden. It could also be the first step towards a successful garden design business.

The horticulture home study courses are designed in easy to follow units, with set exercises along the way to ensure you understand the areas covered.

View samples of previous students work:

Garden Design
Garden Design
Garden and Pond Design

On successful completion of this course students will receive an accredited Level 3 Certificate of Achievement.

Garden designers need to be trained in the principles of design and in horticulture, and have an excellent knowledge and experience of using plants.

Garden Designer Courses & Horticulture CoursesOur distance learning Garden Design course will teach you about the Design Layout, considering elements such as paths, walls, landscape features, water features, sitting areas and decking.

The home study courses also cover information about the plants themselves, with consideration given to their horticultural requirements, their season-to-season appearance, lifespan, size, speed of growth, and combinations with other plants.

Click here to view a small sample of the course materials

The Garden Design Course Includes the Following 14 Units:-

  • Unit One -Garden Design & You

The following topics are covered: Introduction to design; History and development; How gardens started; The beginnings; The garden today; Designers; Types of garden designers today; Where to find information; factors to consider; The gardens around you; And Unit 1 Summary.

  • Unit Two -What Good Design Achieves

The following topics are covered: Designers, what they do and why they are needed?; The design process; The owner's requirements; What the designer does; The benefits of using a garden designer; Providing guidance; Types of client; You as the designer; Taking instructions; Drawing skills; and Unit 2 Summary.

  • Unit Three - Starting to Design

The following topics are covered: Getting started - Equipment & Dress; Design by computer (CAD); Impressions of the garden; The initial visit; The client check-list; The design recipe; Site assessment; Surveying and measuring; Slopes; The rough sketch; The FLP (Functional Layout Plan); Triangulation and chain surveys;drawing to scale; Labelling, heights, number charts and keys; The design principals of Direction, Rhythm and Harmony, and what they mean; and Unit 3 Summary.

  • Unit Four -The Importance of Soils & Sites

The following topics are covered: Soil and horticultural potential; soil and sites; climate (oceanic, etc); temperature; Light, shade and shelter; Rainfall and humidity; Soil types and pH; Topography; The soil environment and horizons; profile pits; Improving the soil with manures, fertilisers, line and mulches; Cultivation and drainage; Soil life - good and bad; and Unit 4 Summary.

  • Unit Five -Starting Real Design Work

The following topics are covered: Getting down to design; Arranging plants; practicalities; function and form; Right plant, right place; Height, borders and beds; Information sources; Plants for problem positions; Plants for alkaline and acid soils; Shade; Sunny; Dry; Plants for particular uses (focal points, climbers, ground cover); Designing for shapes and sizes (formal, informal); Linking shapes; Playing with ideas and concepts; Problem sites; Downward slope; Upward slope; Long and narrow; Short and square; L-shaped; Corner; and Unit 5 Summary.

  • Unit Six -Planning

The following topics are covered: Planning for themes & ideas, styles and how to enhance; Plants for colour and height; The colour wheel; Getting the planting mix right; Colour patch bedding; foliage; Features needing thought; Fruit growing in small areas; Containers, tubs and patios; Plants to define areas and give direction; Rockeries and alpines; Hedges; and Unit 6 Summary.

  • Unit Seven -Designing for Interest

The following topics are covered: The garden in winter; Attracting wildlife; Managing wildlife; Herbs and weeds; Other services; Lighting; Furniture; and Unit 7 Summary.

  • Unit Eight -Water in the Garden

The following topics are covered: Introduction and uses; Siting a pond; Materials, depths and size; considerations; equipment; safety; filters; planting the pond; planning for timing and colour; Maintenance; Lighting and lighting design for water; Water features; construction diagrams; and Unit 8 Summary.

  • Unit Nine - Children & Pets

The following topics are covered: Children; Play areas; Children's gardens; Equipment and toys; Plants, poisonous plants and other potential threats; Safety - water and children; Pets in the garden; Clients' dogs; Dogs; Cats; and Unit 9 Summary.

  • Unit Ten -Gardening for Users with Disabilities, the Elderly and Garden Safety

The following topics are covered: Access; Paths; Safety, features other issues; Watering; Tools; Visually and sensory impaired sensory gardens; Conclusion; Safety check-list; and Unit 10 Summary.

  • Unit Eleven -Upkeep & Maintenance

The following topics are covered: Introduction; Assessing maintenance; Builders, diggers and landscapers; Plants; Ponds; Structures; Lawns; Beds; Schedules of work; Maintenance schedules; Cost issues; Practicalities; Plant schedules; and Unit 11 Summary.

  • Unit Twelve -Structures in the Garden

The following topics are covered: Walls, fences and trellis; Timber; Iron; Wire; Paths and patios; Green houses, sheds and stores; Other structures; Summerhouses; Furniture; and Unit 12 Summary.

  • Unit Thirteen -Marketing Your Garden Design Business

The following topics are covered: Where are the clients; How to reach clients, Word of mouth, Advertising; Portfolio and plant files; Shows and fairs; Visiting potential clients; Clarifying your service; Charging; Keeping records; Tax and accounts; Help; VAT; Insurance; Unit 13 Summary and Final Course Project (Full Design).

  • Unit Fourteen -Tricks of the Trade

An additional unit crammed with useful hints and tips for garden designers.


There are no particular entry requirements.

Course Duration & Support:

Students may register at any time and have a full year to complete their studies. You also have access to a personal tutor by mail or email for a 12 month period. Course extensions can be purchased if you do not complete this course within the 12 month period. As the course is self study you can complete in as little or as long a time as you prefer.


You will be assessed on coursework which is detailed in the course materials. There are 3 tutor marked assignments and many additional exercises to be completed. Your work can be sent back to your course tutor by email or by post.


At the end of this course successful learners will receive a Certificate of Achievement from ABC Awards and Certa Awards and a Learner Unit Summary (which lists the components the learner has completed as part of the course).

The course has been endorsed under the ABC Awards and Certa Awards Quality Licence Scheme. This means that Kendal Publishing has undergone an external quality check to ensure that the organisation and the courses it offers, meet defined quality criteria. The completion of this course alone does not lead to a regulated qualification* but may be used as evidence of knowledge and skills gained.

The Learner Unit Summary may be used as evidence towards Recognition of Prior Learning if you wish to progress your studies in this subject. To this end the learning outcomes of the course have been benchmarked at Level 3 against level descriptors published by Ofqual, to indicate the depth of study and level of demand/complexity involved in successful completion by the learner.

Information on level descriptors can be found on the Ofqual's level descriptors page.

The course itself has been designed by Kendal Publishing to meet specific learners’ and/or employers’ requirements which cannot be satisfied through current regulated qualifications. ABC Awards & Certa Awards endorsement involves robust and rigorous quality audits by external auditors to ensure quality is continually met. A review of courses is carried out as part of the endorsement process.

ABC Awards and Certa Awards have long-established reputations for providing high quality vocational qualifications across a wide range of industries. ABC Awards and Certa Awards combine over 180 years of expertise combined with a responsive, flexible and innovative approach to the needs of our customers.

Renowned for excellent customer service, and quality standards, ABC Awards and Certa Awards also offer regulated qualifications for all ages and abilities post-14; all are developed with the support of relevant stakeholders to ensure that they meet the needs and standards of employers across the UK.

*Regulated qualification refers to those qualifications that are regulated by Ofqual / CCEA / Qualification Wales

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