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Duration (approx) 2100 hours
Qualification Diploma

An exceptionally detailed and extensive course from ACS

  • 2,100 hours of intensive, highly practical learning.
  • Your guides - a team of 12 expert garden designers and horticulturists from both the UK and Australia.
  • 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.






Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the DIPLOMA IN LANDSCAPING VHT025
 LANDSCAPING II BHT214 (Landscape Components)
 LANDSCAPING III - BHT235 (Themed Gardens)
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 2 of the following 14 modules.

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Professional Garden Design Training from ACS

  • An excellent extensive and detailed course.
  • Gain a strong foundation for a business or career in the landscape industry.

Introductory Video made by our Tutors


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

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

Content: The diploma comprises 21 modules - 19 compulsory modules, plus 2 elective modules.

Module 1. Landscaping I BHT109
There are 10 lessons in the module, as follows:
1. Basic Design Procedure A
- includes, collecting pre-planning information; landscape elements; principles.
2. History of Gardening
- includes, garden styles and themes; famous designers; garden influences.
3. Draughting & Contracting
- includes, drawing techniques; specifications; details.
4. Basic Landscape Construction
- includes, timber; steps; retainer walls; pathways; play structures.
5. Surfacings
- includes, concrete; asphalt; gravels; mulches; grasses; gradients.
6. Furnishings & Features
- includes, chairs; statues; figurines; birdbaths; skateboards; safety.
7. Park Design A
- includes, good/bad park design characteristics; recreational landscaping.
8. Home Garden design
- includes, good/bad garden design characteristics.
9. Design Procedure B
- includes, development of concept plans and detailed planting plans.
10. Park Design B
- includes, development of park design; fun & fitness trails.
Module 2. Horticulture I BHT101
There are 12 lessons in the module, 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 BHT214
There are 12 lessons in the module, as follows:
1. The Garden Environment
- includes, the ecosystem; microclimates; lanscaping with water; fencing and safety.
2. Landscape Materials
- includes, tools; tool maintenance; construction materials; plastics, metal, upholstery.
3. Using Bulbs and Annuals
- includes, scented annuals; coloured foliage; annuals in containers; Amaryllis.
4. Landscaping with Trees
- includes, successions; fast growing trees; problems with trees; aesthetic criteria for planting design.
5. Ground Cover Plants
- includes, ground covers: conifers, climbers, creepers, ornamental grasses; low grasses to grow; how to build raised beds.
6. Walls and Fences
- includes, getting the style right; plants to grow on trellis; garden arches.
7. Paths and Paving
- includes, where to use surfacing; selecting materials.
8. Treatment of Slopes and Other Problem Areas
- includes, erosion control; helping plants establish on a slope; windbreaks, hedges and screens.
9. Garden Features
- includes, complementing colours; siting garden buildings.
10. Designing for Low Maintenance
- includes, expensive to maintain areas or features; drought tolerant plants.
11. Developing a Landscape Plan
- includes, site analysis; design concept.
12. Management of Landscape Projects
- includes, earthmoving; importing soil; workplace safety.

Module 4. Landscaping III (Themed Gardens)BHT235
There are 10 lessons in the 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 BHT107
There are 10 lessons in the module, as follows:
- includes, what to plant where; plant selection; soil preparation; maintenance programmes.
2.Woody plants
- includes, selection; establishing woody plants; dealing with shade.
3.Windbreaks, hedges and screens
- includes, establishing windbreaks and screens; trimming a headge.
4.Alpine and water plants
- includes, selecting and establishing alpines; selecting and establishing water plants.
5.Annual and herbaceous plants
- includes, selecting annuals; types of bedding schemes; maximising flowering effect.
- includes, varieties; lawn mixes; wildflower meadows.
- includes, fertilising; managing PH; replacing plants.
8.Pest and disease control
- includes, problem prevention; non chemical control.
9.Weed control
- includes, chemical control; safety; alternative strategies.
10.Risk assessment
- includes, identifying risk; duty of care; significance of illness.

Module 6. Landscape Construction BHT111
There are 10 lessons in the module, as follows:
1.Tools and Machinery
- includes, manual handling; engine troubleshooting; machine maintenance.
2.Landscape Plans and Setting out a Construction Site
- includes, reading landscape plans; understanding and using triangulation.
3.Drainage in Landscape Construction
- includes, improvnig drainage; improving soil water filtration.
- includes, levelling terminology; topsoil considerations; managing soil compaction.
5.Surfaces, Paths, Paving and Turf
- includes, lawns and turf: shape, design and establishment; constructing steps.
6.Construction of Garden Structures I
- includes, buildings in a garden: gazebos, verandhas, storage buildings; construction with rock or masonary, dry walls, wet walls.
7.Construction of Garden Structures II
- includes, traditional features; spas; artificial rock formation.
8.Irrigation Systems
- includes, planning an irrigation system; types of systems.
9.Establishing Hedges and Other Plants
- includes, factors affecting successful plant establishment.
10.Workplace Safety and Management of Landscape Construction Work
- includes, risk management on a landscape construction site; saftey with electricity and different types of equipment.
Module 7. Horticulture II (Plant Knowledge) BHT102
There are 10 lessons in the module, as follows:
1. The Groups of Plants
- includes, identification of plants from a wide range of taxanomic and cultural groups.
2. Use of Plants
- includes, plant selection and soils.
3. Australian Native Plants
- includes, techniques for growing of native plants and trees (including selection, culture and use of different species).
4. Exotic Ornamental Plants
- includes, techniques for growing exotic ornamental shrubs and trees.
5. Indoor & Tropical Plants
- includes, growing techniques; use of different varieties.
6. Bedding Plants
- includes, techniques for growing; selection and culture.
7. Vegetables
- includes, growing techniques; selection and culture.
8. Fruits, Nuts & Berries
- includes, techniques for growing edible crop plants; selection.
9. Herbs
- includes, growing techniques; culture; use of herbs.
10. Alternative Growing Techniques
- includes, hydroponics; terrariums; determining appropriate applications for a range of alternative growing methods.
Module 8. Horticultural Research I BHT118
There are 7 lessons in the module, as follows:
1. Determining Research Needs
- includes, the research goal; sources of information; setting realistic research parameters.
2. Searching for Information
- includes, primary data research; secondary data research; literature reviews.
3. Research Methods
- includes, key research terms; experimentation; setting up a comparison trial.
4. Using Statistics
- includes, official statistics; observed and expected rates; standardising.
5. Conducting Statistical Research
- includes, collecting quantitative data; planning a formal survey.
6. Research Reports
- includes, report writing tips; structure of a report.
7. Reporting on a Research Project
The lesson brings together your learning from the previous lessons. You will critically assess other authors research papers or reports and demonstrate your own report writing skills.
Module 9. Water Gardening BHT307
There are 8 lessons in the module, as follows:
1. Introduction
- includes, scope and nature of water features; siting the water garden; evaporation rate; water effects.
2. Water Garden Construction
- includes, planning the water garden; matching the effect with the type of garden; pond edges.
3. Equipment: Pumps, Lights, Filters
- includes, submersible pumps; mechanical or biological filtration.
4. Ponds and Watercourses
- includes, designing a natural watercourse; bog gardens; pond management.
5. Spas and Swimming Pools: Design and Aftercare
- includes, what sort of pool do you need; types of pools; pool care over winter.
6. Indoor and Outdoor Water Features
- includes, pot ponds; water barrels; fountains.
7. Water Plants
- includes, emergent water plants; plants to avoid in water gardens; surrounding plants.
8. Aquatic Animals
- includes, conditions needed by fish and aquatic animals; troubleshooting.
Module 10. Playground Design BHT216
There are 8 lessons in the module, 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 BHT242
There are 10 lessons in the module, as follows:
1. Site Appraisal, Interpretation and Risk Assessment
2. Preparing Site Plans and Specifications
3. Influence of Site Characteristics
4. The Use of Hard Landscape Features
5. Setting out a Site to Scale Plans and Drawings
6. Soil Handling and Storage
7. Land Drainage Systems
8. Ground Preparation Techniques
9. Construction of Paths and Patios
10. Construction of Steps, Ramps, Dwarf Walls and Fences

Module 12. Cottage Garden Design BHT110
There are 8 lessons in the module, as follows: 
1. Introduction To Cottage Gardens
- includes, garden components, preplanning information, design principles.
2. Designing a Cottage Garden
- includes, 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
- includes, arches, furniture, lattice, sundials, barriers and walls.
7. Cottage Gardens Today
8. Special Assignment - Design Of A Complete Cottage Garden.

Module 13. Permaculture Systems BHT201
The are 8 lessons in the module, as follows:
1. Permaculture Principles
- includes, permaculture principles and ethics; elevational planning; cover cropping; biological control.
2. Natural Systems
- includes, the ecosystem; arid landscapes; soil degradation and rehabilitation.
3. Zone & Sector Planning
- includes, five standard zones; pre-planning information; staged procedure for concept design.
4. Permaculture Techniques
- includes, forests and trees; keyhole beds; water bodies.
5. Animals in Permaculture
- includes, locating animals in a system; function of animals in permaculture.
6. Plants in Permaculture
- includes, organic fertilisers; culture of a large range of plants suited to permaculture.
7. Appropriate Technologies
- includes, solar energy; composting toilets; living fences.
8. Preparing a Plan
- includes, design for natural disasters; drawing a plan; preparing a final design.

Module 14. Horticultural Resource Management BHT203
There are 10 lessons in the module, 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

Some gardens make you feel welcome, while others may be nice to look at but not a particularly comfortable place to sit and relax?

Some gardens draw you in and are a pleasure to visit, and it’s not always because huge amounts of time and money have been spent on them.  

Give value to any Garden with Improved Design 
There are simple things you can do to enhance the “liveability” of a garden; to make it say “Stay a while, linger and soak up the atmosphere.” The "usability" of a garden is just as important in both public and private spaces.


  • comfortable outdoor seats and tables
  • a spacious entertainment area
  • shelter from sun, wind and rain
  • beautiful plants and garden beds
  • interesting, eye-catching garden features
  • winding paths 
  • separate garden ‘rooms’
  • a fun and safe children’s play area
  • seating

Well-placed comfortable seats are an essential item for the user-friendly garden, and every garden should have at least a couple. Some good spots for seats are on the verandah, under a shady tree, near the front and back doors, beside a garden pond, near the children’s play area, and in a paved, sunny courtyard. 

Have a look at your existing seating and garden furniture. If it’s looking tired and unappealing, clean off the dust and cobwebs and spruce it up with a coat of paint or wood stain. Add some comfortable cushions, maybe move it to a different spot, and it’s bound to be used more often. 

There are many types of seats available, catering for all tastes and budgets. When you’re buying outdoor seats, look for features which are specifically designed to increase comfort. For example, you might prefer a seat with smooth, broad arm rests, a high supportive back and/or a reclining back, removable cushions, a foot rest, a drink holder, and even a side pocket for papers and magazines.

Also think about whether you’ll want a light, easily movable seat or more permanent, heavy furniture. Lightweight seats have the advantage that they can be moved around to catch the sun and shade, while heavier seats have a comfortable, sturdy appearance.  

If you have a young family, over sized sturdy benches are ideal as they will stand up to rough treatment as children clamber and lounge over the seats.

Shelter from sun/wind/rain
The ideal outdoor shelter is a garden pavilion or gazebo, and there are many styles suited to different gardens. Other good sun shelters are shade wings placed above the entertainment area or children’s play area, and large canvas umbrellas which can be moved around as required.

The garden should have good, safe access, with wide paths and smooth, non-slip surfaces. Curved paths are always more enticing than straight paths, giving the garden a leisurely, relaxed feel.  If the garden is to be used by disabled or aged people, you may need to make provision for wheelchairs, surfaces should be smooth, hand rails might be needed on steps and the width of paths must be generous. 

If vehicles are to access the site, the ground surface must be solid enough to take their weight and paths or driveways and gates must be a more than adequate width.

Garden Features
Eye-catching garden ornaments and decorative features will go a long way towards making your garden a more charming and desirable place. Statues, garden arches, bird baths, fountains and ponds are the most obvious features but there are many others: 

  • bird feeders
  • wind chimes
  • garden mosaics
  • garden topiary
  • mirrors
  • outdoor murals
  • decorative pots
  • fragrant plants

One of the more subtle attractions in the garden is fragrant trees and shrubs. Most of us have cherished memories of scented childhood gardens, and it’s hard to walk past a scented plant without stopping to smell its perfume. Many people can be adversely affected by plant perfumes though, and this must also be considered.  In small and protected spaces perfumes that were subtle in an open space can become concentrated to the point of being overwhelming.

Scented Plants such as gardenias, frangipani, roses, jasmine, night-flowering Cestrum, port-wine magnolia, flowering lemons, murraya, osmanthus and lonicera are loved by many but can be a major health issue for some. Other scented plants including eucalyptus, mint, basil and lavender have fragrances that bother very few if any people.
Potagers and Picking Gardens
All too often the vegie garden is placed in the furthest corner of the yard, where it soon becomes underused and neglected. A better idea may be to develop a special garden area (sometimes called a potager) for growing edible, useful and colourful plants such as herbs, fruits, vegies and cut flowers. Attractive broad paths, an overall interesting design, and possibly an ornament such as a sundial or weather vane placed in the centre of the garden, will help to make this area more user-friendly.
Gardens with a Sense of Mystery 
The most interesting gardens are those that have a sense of hidden things, inviting you to see what’s around the next corner. Some of the elements of a secret garden include:

  • winding paths
  • high walls and hedges
  • hidden doors and gates
  • small secret spaces screened by shrubs and walls
  • small ‘woodland’ glades (eg. a grove of birches, Japanese maples or casuarinas)

Gardens for Children (both big and small)
A flat open lawn for kicking balls and running around will entice your children outdoors. Depending on their age and the space available, you might also include a sandpit, cubby or tree house and a basketball ring. Some children will also appreciate their own garden area – for displaying treasures such as shells, colourful pebbles, interesting seed pods and small colourful ornaments, and for growing easy-to-grow flowers and vegetables.


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.

The Diploma In Landscaping requires approximately 2,100 hours of study. It is made up of twenty one 100-hour modules (including Workshop I) .

To pass the course –

  1. Pass all assignments on the 100 hour modules. There will be an assignment at the end of each lesson to submit to your tutor for marking and feedback.
  2. Pass 20 examinations – one on each module. These are usually taken at the end of the module and can be arranged at a time and location to suit you.
  3. Completion of the Workshop I module.


  • 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.


  • The course offers 2,100 hours of intensive, highly practical learning.
  • 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.
  • Your studies are guided by a team of 12 expert garden designers and horticulturists from both the UK and Australia.
  • An experiential learning program incorporating lots of practical experience together with sound training in foundation knowledge.
  • Learn to design all types of landscapes, manage projects and to adapt and confront new problems as they arise.

- The diploma has been designed to provide extensive training for an exceptional career as a landscape contractor or garden designer.

- As this diploma is more extensive than those offered elsewhere your studies will provide you with the opportunity to have an edge over your competition.


Any Questions?

Our tutors are more than happy to answer any questions, so please click here to ask a question.

Request a copy of our handbook here.



Courses can be started anytime from anywhere in the world!

Meet some of our academics

Dr Lynette Morgan (Horticulture)Lyn worked with Rivendell Mushroom Farm between 1986 and 88; and then as a research assistant and technician for a few years while undertaking university studies. In 1991 she graduated from Massey University with a Bachelor of Horticultural Science (Hons) which covered broad horticultural sciences, as well as nursery vegetable and fruit production. Throughout the 90's she worked in both the nursery industry and horticultural crop production, before establishing her own business "Suntec" which has built an exceptional international reputation providing consulting services; particularly in hydroponic crop production. Dr Morgan has a broad expertise in horticulture and crop production, and a keen appreciation of the global scene. She travels widely as a partner in Suntec Horticultural Consultants, and has clients in central America, the USA, Caribbean, South East Asia, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.
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.
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.

Check out our eBooks

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.
Commercial HydroponicsThe Commercial Hydroponics ebook is ideal for students, professional horticulturalists and those who want to build a strong foundation knowledge in hydroponics. The commercial hydroponics ebook explains how to set up a commercial hydroponics system, including growing techniques and equipment that you will need. The topics covered in this book include an introduction to hydroponics, site considerations, alternatives, plant nutrition, nutrient film technique culture, rockwool culture, aggregate culture, other techniques, hydroponics equipment, greenhouse operation, plant culture in hydroponics, Vegetable crops, berry and other fruit crops, flower crops, other crops, managing a commercial hydroponic farm and a troubleshooting guide.