Landscaping Design Courses Around the Globe

Ther are many degree or diploma courses in landscape architecture and landscape design which are intended for the aspiring professional landscape architect, but do not cater for people whose main interest is in the choice of plants and their development in a landscape design. People whose main interest is in the horticultural aspects of garden design are better served by a non-degree courses which is aimed at the serious gardener or horticulturalist. There are many such courses available but few of them can offer form of government funding to help students with their fees. Many of them, but not all, are run by private institutions

These are courses often intended for people who are already working in the fields of horticulture, garden design, or plant nurseries and who wish to gain further expertise and a qualification which will enable them to advance further in their career. In some cases the institution will offer its own diplomas or certificates while in other cases they will prepare the student for the examinations of societies such as the Royal Horticultural Society certificate, a qualification which is recognised world wide. Candidates from over 50 countries sit this examination each year. The RHS certificates are awarded at 3 levels, with the first level covering a basic introduction to horticulture and landscape and garden design. Level 2 certificates are more specialised and are either in plant propagation, or in horticulture, or in garden planning, design and maintenance. Level 3 certificates are advanced certificates, also in plant propagation and growth, and in garden design and construction. These are highly professional qualifications designed for those who will become professional head gardeners and garden and landscape designers.

Such courses will normally be part-time or distance learning. Typical accredited part-time courses are often given by government recognised colleges who also offer full-time degree and diploma courses in related subjects. For example, Bridgwater College in England is one of a large number of colleges which, in addition to their mainstream education, also run horticultural courses on a part-time basis. They prepare students for the RHS first certificate in horticulture and also for the City and Guilds national certificate in horticulture. Students may either attend the college for one day a week over 30 weeks, completing the course and sitting the examination for the certificate at the end of one year, or they may attend for one evening a week over a period of two years.

Another example, this time of distance learning courses, are the many courses taught by ACS, an Australian organisation which started over 30 years ago as the Australian Horticultural Correspondence School. ACS has now expanded into a global business offering over 120 courses in horticulture, including several landscape and garden design courses which will lead to either their own internationally accredited diplomas or to the different levels of the RHS certificates.

These two examples have been taken at random to illustrate two courses, one with part-time attendance and the other by correspondence or online learning, both of which can lead to qualifications in horticulture and landscaping.

There are, of course, many specialisations within these courses, but a typical course will include as core subjects:

-Plant identification with a scientific knowledge of plant classification and divisions together with the study of plants' life cycles and reproduction methods.
-Plant propagation and cultivation including the use of glasshouses.
-Soil analysis and improvement techniques
-Plant selection for different purposes, environments and soil types
-Basic site surveying
-Maintenance of lawns and woodland
-Pests and diseases of plants
-Weed control methods

These are likely to be the basic subjects studied at the start of the course, but much further specialisation is possible and the courses tend to be extremely comprehensive, covering a very wide area of knowledge in considerable depth.

The cost of courses such as this will vary widely, from a few hundred pounds or dollars to several thousand. For example, to study for the ACS Diploma in Landscaping, a 2100 hour online course intended for the aspiring professional, the total cost will be around Aus$9000, whereas to attend Bridgwater for one evening a week for two years leading to the RHS certificate in horticulture will cost £350 per year for a British or European Union student.