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Natural Garden Design 100 Hours Certificate Course


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Natural Garden Design 100 Hours Certificate Course

Price: £325.00Course Code: BHT215 CLD
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Natural Garden Design 100 Hours Certificate Course

Natural Garden Design course online. Become an expert at designing home gardens. After developing an understanding of the workings of natural environments you will learn to create innovative plans for low maintenance and visually pleasing gardens.

This online course in Natural Garden Design delivered via distance learning and studied from the comfort of your own home or indeed from anywhere, develops your ability to design beautiful gardens for your clients, using both native or a mixture of indigenous and other plants, in an imaginative and professional way.

Being a professional garden designer isn't just about arranging plants in a symmetrical pattern to create a aesthetically pleasing garden. A true professional must know how to create different types of gardens for increasingly demanding customers, who look up design concepts on the internet and then want a garden designer to create something similar for them. Some customers will want the cottage look. Others the neat and tidy look and many will want a natural looking garden, where choosing the right plants which attract an abundance of wildlife and then complimenting it all with the use of ornamental features, will need to be taken into consideration.

This course has been developed over many years by garden design professionals with a wealth of experience to call upon, You can tap into their experience and help create a niche market for yourself by creating specifically themed gardens for discerning clients in your area. A very popular and sought after theme that you will be able offer from this course, is a rain forest garden, Add this and many other marketable garden design skills to your CV and areas of expertise with ADL's Natural Garden Design Course.


Learning Goals: Natural Garden Design BHT215
  • Explain the concept of natural, wild and bush gardens. Examine the influence of soil on plant grow
  • Explain the history of natural, wild and bush gardens
  • Prepare concept plans for different natural gardens
  • Study the characteristics and how to cultivate native plants appropriate to a natural garden
  • Plan the incorporation of appropriate plants into a natural garden design
  • Plan the appropriate incorporation of non-living landscape features into a natural garden
  • Understand means of attracting wildlife to modern natural gardens and other native plant choices
  • Produce detailed plans for a natural garden


Lesson Structure:   Natural Garden Design BHT215

There are 8 lessons:

1  Introduction to Natural Gardens

  • What is a Natural Garden?
  • What is a Natural Wild or Bush Garden?
  • Soils
  • Improving Soils
  • Improving Drainage
  • Improving Infiltration of Water into Soil
  • Mulches
  • Soil Mixes
  • Resources

2  History of Natural Gardens

  • Introduction
  • The History of Gardening
  • Landscape Designers, Garden Designers and Landscape Architects
  • Natural Gardening Approaches
  • Organic Gardening

3  Developing Concept Plans

  • Principles of Landscape Design
  • Basic Principles
  • Quality of the Components
  • Creating Effects
  • Pre-planning Information (included diagrams and plans)
  • Design Procedure

4  Plants for Natural Gardens

  • Basic Planning Procedure
  • Pruning
  • How to Build Raised Beds
  • Mulching
  • Plant Nutrition
  • Propagation of Native Plants
  • Four Main Seed Sources
  • Understanding Cuttings
  • Some Native and Natural Garden Plants for Temperate Climate Wild Gardens
  • Some Native and Natural Garden Plants for Australian Native Gardens
  • Maintenance

5  Planting Design in Natural Gardens

  • Natural Garden Planting Design
  • Successions
  • Native Planting Design
  • Aesthetic Criteria for Planting Design
  • Procedures for Planting Design
  • Plant Applications
  • Natural Weed Control
  • Invasive Plant/Plants which Take Over
  • Plant Health
  • Control of Problems
  • Types of Natural Gardens

6  Natural Garden Features

  • Pathways
  • Drainage
  • Steps
  • Erosion
  • Walls
  • Rockeries

7  Natural Gardens Today

  • Wildlife
  • Considering Shaded Areas

8  Bringing It All Together

  • Tips for Planning a Natural Garden
  • Creating a Table of Advantages and Disadvantages
  • Garden Size and Location
  • Putting it all Together
  • Using Plants
  • Using Trees
  • Foundation of the Garden
  • Planning for Difference


  • Explain the historical development of natural garden design, in your locality.
  • Analyse plant inter-relationships within a specific natural environment (e.g. an area of bushland).
  • Analyse the design of three natural gardens, in an essay illustrated with photographs or sketches.
  • Explain, using illustrations, concepts of landscape design, showing their relevance to natural garden design, including:
    • Unity
    • Balance
    • Proportion
    • Harmony
    • Contrast
    • Rhythm
    • Line
    • Form
    • Mass
    • Space
    • Texture
    • Colour
    • Tone.
  • Develop three alternative natural garden concept plans for the same specified site.
  • Collect pre-planning information for a site for a proposed natural garden, by conducting a site survey, and interviewing a prospective client.
  • Explain, through a sequence of illustrations, a logical process of developing a design for a natural garden, on a specific site surveyed by you.
  • Prepare concept plans for two small natural gardens, including: *A rainforest garden *A sclerophyll garden.
  • List fifty different plants suitable for use in a natural garden design, of a specific style on a specified site, in your locality.
  • Explain compatibility considerations, when selecting different plants to include in the same natural garden design.
  • Develop a nursery customer information sheet, to provide guidelines for planting design of a natural garden.
  • Prepare a plant collection of fifty relevant plants, which includes:
    • A photo, drawing or pressed specimen of each plant
    • Plant names (scientific and common)
    • Cultural details
    • Uses/applications in garden design.
  • Prepare planting designs for three different styles of low maintenance garden beds, between 30 and 60 square meters each in size, and using only Australian Native plants.
  • Explain design options for six different landscape features in a natural garden, including:
    • Rockeries
    • Patios
    • Water features
    • Paths.
  • Describe the characteristics, including:
    • Cost
    • Availability
    • Longevity
    • Appearance
    • Maintenance, of ten different landscape materials, suited for use in a natural garden design.
  • Design a water feature for a natural garden, incorporating:
    • Concept drawings
    • Materials list
    • Cost estimates
    • Guidelines for construction.
  • Explain, using illustrations, the structural design of a masonry garden wall.
  • Explain, using illustrations, different appropriate applications for timber structures in a natural garden design.
  • Prepare plans, including structural diagrams and materials lists, for the construction of three different landscape features, which are appropriate for inclusion in a natural garden.
  • Develop a design "Brief" for a natural garden, in consultation with a client, through an interview and site inspection.
  • Design a natural garden of 200 to 500 square metres, including:
    • A landscape plan drawn on tracing paper, or an electronic file
    • Materials specifications, including types and quantities, to suit a site surveyed by you, and emphasising one type of plant, such as ferns, wildflowers or sclerophyll type plants.
  • Prepare a detailed professional standard plan for a natural garden of 500 to 2000 square metres, to an acceptable industry standard for a professional garden designer, which includes:
    • A landscape plan
    • Materials specifications, including types and quantities.
  • Explain the purpose behind decisions made by you in a natural garden designed by you.


The quality of this course is second to none, from the in-depth learning you will get to the expert individual mentoring you will receive throughout your studies. The mentors for this course are: 
Yellow rosesSusan Stephenson
BSc in Applied Plant Biology (Botany) Univ. London 1983.
City and guilds: Garden Centre Management, Management and Interior Decor (1984)
Management qualifications in training with retail store. Diploma in Hort level 2 (RHS General) Distinction. 
Susan Stephenson is a passionate and experienced horticulturist and garden designer. She has authored three books, lectures at 2 Further and Higher Education Colleges, teaching people of all ages and backgrounds about the wonders of plants and garden design, and tutors many students by correspondence from all over the world.
Susan studied botany at Royal Holloway College (Univ of London) and worked in the trading industry before returning to her first love plants and garden design. She is therefore, well placed to combine business knowledge with horticulture and design skills. Her experience is wide and varied and she has designed gardens for families and individuals. Susan is a mentor for garden designers who are just starting out, offering her support and advice and she also writes, delivers and assesses courses for colleges, introducing and encouraging people into horticulture and garden design.
In 2010, Susan authored a complete module for a Foundation degree (FDSC) in Arboriculture.
Susan holds the RHS General with Distinction. She continues to actively learn about horticulture and plants and (as her students will tell you) remains passionate and interested in design and horticulture.
Steven Whitaker course tutorSteven Whitaker
Diploma in Garden Design (Distinction) – The Blackford Centre, Gold Certificate of Achievement in Horticulture, Level 2 NVQ in Amenity Horticulture, Level 1 NOCN Introduction to Gardening, – Joseph Priestly College, BTEC Diploma in Hotel, Catering and Institutional Operations (Merit), Trainer Skills 1, & 2, Group trainer, Interview and Selection Skills – Kirby College of Further Education
Steven has a wealth of Horticultural knowledge, having ran his own Design and Build service, Landscaping company, and been a Head Gardener. His awards include five Gold awards at Leeds in Bloom, two Gold awards at Yorkshire in Bloom and The Yorkshire Rose Award for Permanent Landscaping. Steven has worked with TV’s Phil Spencer as his garden advisor on the Channel 4 TV Programme, “Secret Agent”. 
He is qualified to Level 2 NVQ in Amenity Horticulture and has a Diploma in Garden Design which he passed with Distinction. Steven’s Tutor and Mentor was the Chelsea Flower Show Gold Award-winning Garden Designer, Tracy Foster. He also works for a major Horticultural Commercial Grower in the field of Propagation and Craft Gardening. Steven lives in Leeds where he is a Freelance Garden Designer and Garden Advice Consultant. 


Rainforest Gardens:

The rainforest is commonly seen as one of the ultimate environments to duplicate in the garden. It can provide a home for native animals or provide you with a quiet, pleasant place to escape to. It is easily ‘constructed’ provided a few requirements are met to satisfy plant growth.

Protection from direct sunlight and strong wind and an abundant supply of mulch or leaf matter are three of the most important necessities for the establishment of a rainforest. Understandably, if you already have a shaded site it makes your rainforest garden one step closer to completion.

Many people do not realise it, but rainforest plants are very adaptable to the domestic garden.
Let us look at some of the good points of rainforest landscaping:

  • Large rainforest trees that grow to heights exceeding 20 metres will only grow to about half that height in sunny domestic gardens.
  • Full shade is not essential for rainforest trees as many will grow in full sun and others may require some shade while young. As a result these trees become more rounded with fuller canopies.
  • Large areas are not essential to develop a rainforest - many people have successfully developed miniature rainforests on domestic sites. Any soil can be made suitable provided a bit of extra pre-planting preparation is performed. The better your soil is to begin with, the easier and quicker will be your established rainforest.
  • With adequate compost or leaf-litter, water is retained better in the soil therefore less hosing will be required.
  • There are several types of rainforests around the world ranging from tropical climates through to temperate ones, so no matter where you live; your climate can be assisted to produce a rainforest.
  • Many rainforest plants are extremely easy to grow, so much so that many are used as indoor plants (e.g. Castanospermumaustrale) and others have been available throughout nurseries for decades (e.g. Archontophoenixalexandrae).

Constructing a Rainforest

A rainforest is made up of levels or strata of vegetation. These are generally referred to as the upper storey, middle storey and the lower storey (or ground covers). In a typical domestic garden it is important to realise that you should not plant rainforest species that can grow to 20m or those that have invading destructive roots like Umbrella trees. For many gardens those plants that would normally be classed as middle storey plants would be best used as the upper storey plants so that the rainforest landscape takes on a human scale.

Pioneer plants are usually fast growing with a spreading canopy. They are however relatively short-lived and may need removal at some later date. These plants are important by providing necessary shade and leaf litter which helps retain moisture and improves the organic matter content of the soil.

These plants also provide the essential shade for ferns and ground covers and protection for the slower growing species.

Climax plants are those plants that require some shade while young but which eventually outgrow the shade of the pioneer plants resulting in their deterioration. They are long-lived. These are planted after the pioneer plants are between 1 to 2 years old with variable spacing distances (e.g. 1.5m to 3m apart). A reasonable canopy can be developed in about 5 years depending upon species suitability to your climatic region.

Ground cover and other under-storey plants require plenty of shade and shelter. They are best planted after pioneer plants are well grown and climax plants are well established. These  plants consist of mainly ferns, orchids, native lilies, gingers and small palms. These plants prefer moist but not waterlogged sites. As these plants are at eye height, you may wish to provide contrast to the all-green rainforest by adding colourful "tropical" plants. If however you are a purest, you may prefer to keep with only native ground covers.


Once established many rainforest are self-sustaining. These however are in districts that receive about 750mm p.a. of rainfall. In other areas, additional watering is recommended in dry times to prevent plant death.Hosing the canopy reduces transpiration (water loss from leaves) and also cleans the plants. The use of trickle or sprinklers will place the necessary water exactly where it is required.

This is an essential part of the rainforest that must be kept up in volume. Continual leaf fall may supplement this mulch but if the site is steep, new mulch may be needed to be added to overcome erosion or wash off. A layer of mulch provides a cool environment for the roots, a holder for moisture and a continual supply of mild fertiliser. Maybe more importantly it provides the home for countless microbes to make the ecosystem complete.

A balanced fertiliser can be spread over the area and watered in. Tropic fertiliser at a rate of 1 kg per 5m square applied 3 or 4 times over the year is frequently suggested. Blood and bone and pelletized manures are also suitable. Organically based fertilisers are the best for this ecosystem.

Weed Control
With adequate mulch and reduced light, few weeds will grow in the rainforest. As weeds compete for light, moisture and nutrients they are best pulled out upon sight or spot sprayed.

Future Plantings
To obtain the succession of rainforest development and replacement of dead plants, future plantings may be necessary. Try not to transplant rainforest plants each season until a final site is decided - this only results in weak plants. Once a plant has been planted leave it there unless it is essential that it must be removed or transplanted.

Pests and Diseases
As this garden is to be an environmental aware garden, it is best not to use any toxic chemicals. Try to leave insects for their own predators. If possible manually collect insects or disease damage and destroy elsewhere. If sprays must be used consider the use of natural controls such as traps or organic sprays.


Course Info
How Do Our Tuition Fees Compare?Full time classroom based Further Education Courses - Approx. £5,000 per year - Part-time classroom based Adult Education Courses - Approx. £7.00 per hour - N.B. classroom tuition means you learn at the pace of the class. One-to-one private tuition - from £15.00 per hour - ADL one-to-one tution fees - From £340 per 100 Hour Course = Average of £3.40 per hour - N.B. one-to-one tuition is tailored to your own individual learning availability and pace.
Course StartBegin your learning at any time.
Course Prerequisite None - Our course levels are an indication of the depth of learning you should receive. They do not describe the level of difficulty.
Course Qualification (Study Option A)Endorsed Qualification from TQUK - Training Qualifications UK, an Ofqual Approved Awarding Organisation - Completed written assignments and final evaluation per course/module to be taken.
Course Qualification (Study Option B)Certificate of Attainment from ADL - Completed written assignments only - no final evaluation.
Comparative Credits InformationUK Course Credits: 10 - U.S. Credit Hours: 3 - when compared to regulated courses.
Course Duration and DeadlinesCourse hours given are a guide only. You will be encouraged to work at your own pace to learn as much as you can, with no assignment deadlines or end date by which you must complete your course by. You are in control!
Study SupportPersonal tutor/mentor support from industry relevant professionals throughout your whole course. Mentors are contactable by e-mail, telephone and through the Moodle online classroom. They provide assistance with your course material, plus discuss, explain and give advice when needed. They will also mark and grade your assignments, plus provide constructive and helpful feedback vital to your success.
Suitability for Self Employment and Small BusinessesOur courses are ideal for sole traders and small business owners and their staff. Customer confidence in what you can do will determine how successful you are in getting clients. Doing the job right using the correct knowledge and skills, leads to repeat business and referrals to friends, family and work colleagues. Completing one or more of our courses for the service you have to offer, will give you the tools to achieve this and grow your business.
Recognition of Your Course By EmployersWe aim to achieve the correct balance between your qualification being recognised and providing you with the in-depth learning, to empower you to succeed. If you can demonstrate that you have the level of knowledge and transferable skills necessary to an employer, you should stand out from someone who has only received a superficial understanding of what's required - Select study option A when enrolling, so an employer can check the status of the awarding organisation for your qualification on the Ofqual Register.
Recognition of Your Course By UniversitiesAs you will see on our Testimonials page, previous students have used their qualification from us to get into university. However each one will have its own entrance criteria and acceptance may also depend on your other qualifications and experience. We can approach up to three universities on your behalf with details of our course before you enrol, so you will know whether it will be accepted as part of their application process. Please complete our contact form and we will begin the process.
Designing Your Own QualificationBundle up your choice of related courses to form your own qualification. Our Advanced Certificates (4 courses), Diplomas (6 courses), Advanced Diplomas (8 courses) and Higher Advanced Diplomas (12 courses), are used to differentiate between the in-depth knowledge and skills you will acquire in your chosen area of study. e.g. Advanced Certificate in Turf Care Management, which includes individual courses: Turf Care, Sports Turf Care, Turf Repair and Renovation and Turf Grasses.
How Can I Enrol?Online by selecting your study option, learning materials, plus payment option and then clicking the Enrol Now button - By contacting us for an application form - By telephoning us on 01227 789 649 (International: 0044 1227 789 649). Lines open 9am till 5pm Monday to Friday, excluding Bank Holidays and between Christmas and New Year.
How Can I Get a Pro-forma Invoice for my Employer?Contact us with details and we will email your employer an invoice. We will need: employer's name, address, telephone number, email address and contact name. We will also require your name, telephone number, email address, date of birth and the course and code you wish to enrol for.

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"The course was a valuable learning experience as it provided me with the knowledge and understanding for me as a Careers Advisor. The feedback was very good from my tutor, and allowed me to  build upon my assignments that were marked. The comments were very informative  and very useful. Well written course material."  Andrew W, Careers  Counselling, UK

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