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Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment

Learn to Save and Rebuild Old Ornamental Gardens

The original planting design of any garden will commonly change over time. When you are faced with the task of restoring an old garden, it may be a significant challenge to discover and recreate plantings as close to the original design as possible.

Find out how an understanding of garden history and styles can be significant and different ways to access records. Learn to survey, analyse and plan sensitive and appropriate renovation of established gardens.  

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Learn to Restore Old Gardens to their Prior Glory

Restoring established gardens is not always a simple task. The original planting design of any garden will commonly change over time. When you are faced with the task of restoring an old garden, it may be a significant challenge to discover and recreate plantings as close to the original design as possible. You must, as far as possible, determine what was previously planted and how it was arranged. This might involve accessing old records such as plant lists or plans where they exist, or old photographs.

Learn the techniques behind successful garden restoration

Take this course to learn about how to restore old gardens to closely resemble the original. Find out how an understanding of garden history and styles can be significant and different ways to access records. Learn how to measure up a site, assess its current plants and hard landscape features, and decide what should be retained. Find out how to plan a restoration project and conduct risk assessments.

This course is concerned with the history, design and restoration of ornamental gardens.

  • It assumes a foundation knowledge of landscape and horticultural management.
  • It is a valuable study program for even those who have worked in landscaping for some time, but who seek a deeper and broader knowledge of garden renovation.
  • This course has been developed by professionals in both Australia and the UK, with the aim of being relevant throughout the world.


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



  • Outline the history of UK garden design and the influence of plant introductions.
  • Evaluate an established ornamental garden in order to determine any particular design style period, or plants of interest.
  • Describe basic methods for the survey and recording of the layout and content of an established garden, and explain the importance of detailed information including assessment of site factors.
  • Explain processes and the need for assessment and recording of the type, condition and future potential of a range of plantings and features in an ornamental garden.
  • Explain the main criteria used to select plantings and features for retention in a restored garden.
  • Explain the need and processes of analysis of collected information.
  • Prepare a summarised programme for organisation of garden restoration work
  • Assess risk and identify safe work practices
  • Recognise and explain the visible signs of the failure of old land drainage systems and describe remedial measures
  • Describe and explain the practical procedures necessary for the restoration of a range of hard landscape features.
  • Explain problems which may be encountered in the improvement of retained hedges, plantings and lawns.
  • Describe practical solutions for improving retained hedges, plantings and lawns
  •  Evaluate the use of modern maintenance techniques in established gardens  
Replanting an Old Garden
Adding life to an old garden can often be achieved easiest by simply replacing some of the plants.
In a historic garden; there may be a desire to be as true as possible to the original garden plan. If that is the case; your choice of what to plant back, may be predetermined.
There are however, good reasons to choose a different plant; if it is feasible to do so.
  1. When you replant the same species into soil that contained a sick or dying plant; that soil may still contain disease organisms (or spores) that are a particular problem for that particular species.
  2. When you allow yourself the freedom to choose some different species; you have the possibility of using a cultivar that is better in every way, than the previous plant.


Revitalizing the Garden
Do you want to revitalise it and give it a stunning new appearance?
Stand back and take a fresh look at your garden. Imagine seeing it for the first time:
  • What catches your eye?
  • What parts of the garden lack interest?
  • Are there any bare areas in the garden beds?
  • Could the lawn be enhanced by adding a tree?
  • Do any of the plants have small or insignificant flowers?
  • Are there plants in your garden that are dead or diseased?
  • Do you have plants that are repeatedly damaged by birds or insects?
  • Have shrubs become overgrown or “leggy”?
  • Have the trees grown too big for the scale of the garden?
Once you have done this, try to imagine what it would look like if you were to drop a patch of different foliage or flowers into a section of the garden. Let your imagination run riot. Don’t just think of the plants you know, also think in terms of the colours and shapes that you would like to see in your garden.
If you are unhappy with how parts of your garden look, the best way to improve them is to start from scratch. So be radical! Clear an area where you can create the garden you really want.
Add Contrasting Affects
The easiest way to inject new life is to add some contrast:
  • If your garden has lots of subdued colours, adding patches of a different colour or texture will make a big difference. 
  • If the plants are all low to medium shrubs, add a tall tree with a trunk that stands out such as a white-trunked Eucalypt, Crepe Myrtle or a Silver Birch.
  • If much of the garden has small or medium-sized foliage, add something with huge leaves such as an Acanthus, Gunnera, Monstera or Philodendron.
  • If the foliage is mostly green, add plants with variegated or silvery/grey leaves.
  • If the foliage shapes are rounded, add a tall bamboo; pencil pines or other tall, narrow plants.


What This Course Could Do For You

This course is likely to be of value to people who have an interest in garden restoration or conservation. It will also appeal to anyone with a general interest in garden history and design.

People who take this course are most likely those working in or aspiring to work in:

  • Garden Restoration
  • Garden Conservation
  • Garden Design
  • Landscaping
  • Gardening
  • Horticulture
  • Parks & Gardens
  • Botanical Gardens
  • Garden Maintenance

The course will also be of value to people wishing to include garden restoration as a service within an existing gardening or landscaping business.





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Courses can be started anytime from anywhere in the world!

Meet some of our academics

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

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.
Getting Work in HorticultureExplore what it is like to work in horticulture; how diverse this industry is, how to get a start, and how to build a sustainable, long term and diverse career that keeps your options broad, so you can move from sector to sector as demand and fashion changes across your working life.
What to Plant WhereA great guide for choosing the right plant for a particular position in the garden. Thirteen chapters cover: plant selection, establishment, problems, and plants for wet areas. Shade, hedges and screens, dry gardens, coastal areas, small gardens, trees and shrubs, lawns and garden art.