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Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment

Learn the Principles Behind Authentic Cottage Garden Design

These days the best cottage gardens are carefully designed to give a pleasing arrangement of ornamental plants, herbs, vegetables, garden ornaments and accessories.

This is an ideal course for people with an interest in landscape design. Develop the skills to feel confident offering cottage garden design or restoration as part of your landscaping service.

 Study this course and find out what a cottage garden is. Learn how to apply the principles of this concept to garden design and garden renovation. Discover  the history of cottage gardens,  planting design for cottage gardens, features and components of cottage gardens (e.g. arches, furniture, lattice, sundials, barriers and walls) and more.




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Learn What a Cottage Garden is and How to Apply the Principles of the Concept

Learn to design a cottage garden, applying broad concepts and principles loosely or rigidly to create a landscape sympathetic to a period in history or style of architecture. This course involves using heritage or old world plants and features (i.e. formal to semi formal designs with an emphasis on flowers, vegetables, archways, arbours, statues, gazebos, picket fencing, sundials and rustic elements).

Hone your design skills

  • Understand how to apply the principles of the cottage garden concept to garden design and garden renovation.
  • Study cottage garden design, the principles of cottage garden design, garden renovation, the History of Cottage Gardens, Planting Design for Cottage Gardens, Features and Components of Cottage Gardens (eg. Arches, furniture, lattice, sundials, barriers and walls) and more.
  • Learn about the history, components and design of cottage gardens.
  • Develop your landscape skills to design a cottage garden.
  • Expand the range of plants you can identify and use in your designs.

Traditionally cottage gardens were a random mixture of useful and ornamental plants, with more emphasis being given to the useful plants which for instance; could be eaten, used for medicinal purposes, or as animal forage. The ornamental plants were an afterthought, using colourful and easily grown annuals, herbaceous perennials and small shrubs to brighten the garden, space permitting.

These days the best cottage gardens are carefully designed to give a pleasing arrangement of ornamental plants, herbs, vegetables, garden ornaments and accessories. Cottage plants are generally chosen with more forethought, although colour and abundance are still the most important features. Anyone can throw down a handful of seeds and within a few weeks have a wildly profuse and colourful bed of poppies, hollyhocks, nasturtiums and the like, but it takes rather more planning to create a cottage garden that looks charming throughout the year.


Course Duration: 100 hours

Start Date: Start at any time - study at a pace that suits you, and with full tutor support for the duration of your studies.

Lessons: The course comprises 8 lessons as follows:

1. Introduction: Garden components, preplanning information, design principles.
2. Designing a Cottage Garden: Landscape drawing (graphics), design procedure.
3. History of Cottage Gardens
4. Plants for Cottage Gardens
5. Planting Design in Cottage Gardens
6. Features and Components of Cottage Gardens today
: Arches, furniture, lattice, sundials, barriers and walls.
7. Cottage Gardens Today
8. Designing a Complete Cottage Garden


On successful completion of the course you should be able to do the following:

  • Explain the concept of a cottage garden.
  • Adapt the cottage garden concept to develop cottage style gardens in different situations (various climates, small and large gardens, both private and public garden areas, etc) 
  • Draw concept plans for cottage gardens.
  • Create planting designs for cottage gardens.
  • Plan for incorporating appropriate non-living landscape features in a cottage garden.
  • Prepare a detailed design for a cottage garden.



  • Explain the concept of a cottage garden, both in historical and modern contexts.
  • Explain the influence of one famous landscaper on cottage gardens.
  • Explain the relevance of garden design concepts to cottage gardens, such as: *Unity  *Balance  *Proportion  *Harmony  *Contrast  *Rhythm  *Line  *Form  *Mass  *Space  *Texture  *Colour  *Tone.
  • Use a sequence of illustrations, to show the various steps involved in planning process for a cottage garden.
  • Develop a checklist of pre-planning information required for a proposed cottage garden.
  • Compile pre-planning information for a specific site, for a proposed cottage garden, through an interview with a potential client, and surveying the site.
  • Prepare drawings to represent landscape features on a cottage garden plan, including trees, shrubs, herbs, walls, rocks, buildings and other landscape features.
  • Prepare different cottage garden concept plans to satisfy given design specifications and pre-planning information.
  • Review a variety of different cottage garden plants
  • Prepare a planting plan for a garden bed in a cottage garden style.
  • Design a perennial border  in an appropriate cottage garden style.
  • Design a garden bed, which incorporates companion planting principles.
  • Visit and evaluate the companion planting design in a cottage garden.
  • Design a colour themed garden, such as a white garden, to suit a proposed garden redevelopment.
  • Describe briefly, different non-living features that may be included in a cottage garden, including:   *Seating alternatives  *Bird baths  *Sun dials  *Fountains  *Statues  *Pergolas  *Gazebos  *Fencing  *Ponds  *Weather vanes.
  • Determine criteria for inclusion of different landscape features in a cottage garden, including:   *Gazebos  *Ornaments  *Arbors  *Tub plants  *Water features  *Paths.
  • Compare the characteristics, including: *Suitability for a cottage garden    *Cost       *Availability   *Longevity  *Appearance  *Maintenance, of different landscape materials.
  • Explain the use of plant sculpting, including topiary and hedging, in cottage garden designs; including references to: *Ways of creating it  *Ways of using it  *Maintenance.
  • Prepare a report that analyses a cottage garden that includes photographs, and comment on the use of different structures as features.
  • Prepare cottage garden concept plans, which incorporate different types of features sympathetic to cottage or heritage gardens.
  • Develop a brief for a cottage garden design, for the redevelopment of an established garden around an old building in your locality.
  • Analyse the designs of different well established cottage gardens.
  • Compile pre-planning information for a specified cottage garden development.
  • Prepare detailed plans for a cottage garden (following industry standards), including: *Detailed plans  *Materials lists  *Costings.
  • Explain the reasoning behind a cottage garden you design.


You can start the course at any time.

It is studied by distance learning, so you can study in the comfort of your own home. But this doesn't mean you are all alone in your studies.  Our highly qualified and friendly tutors are there to help you every step of the way.  If you have any questions at all, they are always happy to help.



  • You can start the course at any time and study at your own pace.
  • Fit your studies around your own busy lifestyle - we provide full tutor support for all the time you are studying.
  • Study where you want to - online studies offer the flexibility for you to determine where and when you study.


Opportunities After Study

This course may be studied by itself or along with other modules as part of a higher level qualification.
It is of value to people wishing to work in:

  • Garden Design
  • Landscaping
  • Garden Maintenance
  • Parks & Gardens


Choosing the right course and the right options is important.  If you have any questions, please get in touch with our Environmental tutors using our FREE COURSE COUNSELLING SERVICE.  They will be more than happy to help you make the right choice for you.



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Courses can be started anytime from anywhere in the world!

Meet some of our academics

John Mason (Horticulturist)Horticulturist, Nurseryman, Landscaper, Garden Writer, Parks Manager and Consultant. Over 45 years experience; working in Australia and the UK. He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world; author of more than 100 books and editor for 4 different gardening magazines. John has been recognised by his peers being made a fellow of the Institute of Horticulture in the UK, as well as by the Australian Institute of Horticulture.
Maggi BrownMaggi is regarded as an expert in organic growing throughout the UK, having worked for two decades as Education Officer at the world renowned Henry Doubleday Research Association. She has been active in education, environmental management and horticulture across the UK for more than three decades. Some of Maggi's qualifications include RHS Cert. Hort. Cert. Ed. Member RHS Life Member Garden Organic (HDRA) .
Diana Cole (Horticulturist)Horticulturist, Permaculturist, Landscaper, Environmentalist. Holds a Diploma in Horticulture, degree in geography, permaculture certificate and various other qualifications. Between 1985 and 94, Diana was a task leader with the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers. Since 2001 she has been chairperson of the Friends of Mellor Park (with Stockport MDC). From 2005 she has worked exclusively in horticulture as proprietor of her own garden design and consultancy business in and around Derbyshire; and at the same time as part time manager of a small garden centre. Diana has been an enthusiastic and very knowledgeable tutor with ACS since 2008.
Yvonne Sharpe (Horticulturist)Started gardening in 1966, studied a series of horticulture qualifications throughout the 1980's and 90's, culminating in an RHS Master of Horticulture. Between 89 and 1994, she worked teaching in horticultural therapy. Founded the West Herts Garden Association in 1990 and exhibited at Chelsea Flower Show in 1991. In 1994, Yvonne joined the staff at Oaklands College, and between 1996 and 2000 was coordinator for all Amenity Horticulture courses at that college. Since leaving Oakland she has been active as a horticultural consultant, retail garden centre proprietor and sessional lecturer (across many colleges in southern England). In 2000, she also completed a Diploma in Management.

Check out our eBooks

RosesThere are few things as uplifting as being greeted by the sweet fragrance of roses from your own garden. If you have always wanted to grow roses, or perhaps improve an established rose garden, make sure you are armed with the right knowledge! Learn from the masters in horticulture. This wonderfully colourful ebook will teach you everything you need to know about the passion of growing roses.
Scented PlantsScented plants can be either a delight or a curse. For many people, there is nothing more pleasing than a garden filled with fragrance, but for others who suffer allergies, certain plants can make them physically ill; sometimes very seriously.
Garden Design Part 1The Garden Design ebook part 1 is an essential handbook for students and landscape professionals. A foundation guide to garden design, this book provides stunning full illustrations to demonstrate tips and examples on garden design, functional uses and aesthetics. Some topics that are covered in this ebook include 1/ Introduction to Garden Design, 2/ Appropriateness of garden design, 3/ Creating an impact, 4/ Designing to a budget, 5/ Choosing plants, 6/ Using the garden, 7/ Where the garden meets the house, 8/ Making the winter garden more comfortable, 9/ Gardens for children, 10/The secure home and garden, 11/ Lighting a garden, 12/ Dealing with shade, 13/ Garden Art, 14/ Pots and planters, 15/ Colour in the garden, 16/ Applications for colour and 17/ Garden furniture.
Garden Design Part 2Part 2 of the Garden Design Series is an inspiring accompaniment to the first book, but works equally well in its own right. The Garden Design Part 2 ebook is ideal for students and landscaping professionals. Brimming with ideas and practical advice for designing a wide variety of different gardens. You will learn about different styles of gardens and how to create a style to suit a site or client. Topics covered in this ebook include 18/ (Continuing on from Garden Design 1) Surfacing ideas, 19/ Garden arches, pergolas & pavilions, 20/ Dealing with confined spaces, 21/ Water gardens, 22/ Using plants in the garden, 23/ Formal gardens, 24/ Natural gardens, 25/ Rainforest gardens, 26/ Coastal gardens, 27/ Cottage gardens, 28/ Late Victorian/Edwardian gardens, 29/ Oriental gardens, 30/ Mediterranean gardens, 31/ Mexican style, 32/ Minimalist landscape design and 33/ Eclectic gardens.