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Online (Flexible) Diploma
Professional
Garden Design

As a not-for-profit foundation, we are so confident in the price of our Diploma’s that if you can find the same level of education for less, we will match it!

Start Date

Enrol at any time & choose your start date. No term times or semesters.

Entry Requirements

No previous qualifications required, just an interest & enthusiasm for garden design.

Course Duration

Online: 8-10 months (flexible)
Online Fast-Track: 14 weeks

Assessment

No exams — Tutor assessment only, portfolio moderation by AIM Qualifications.

Course Summary

No qualifications are required for this course so this Diploma in Professional Garden Design is the ideal course for garden enthusiasts. It will teach you step by step the professional techniques required to create amazing designs for your own garden, or how to start your own garden design business or enter a new career in the industry. If you already have a gardening or Garden Design business but don’t have formal qualifications, then you can study this Professional Diploma flexibly to fit around your existing clients.

Who Should Do This Course?

If the answer is yes… then this is the course you are looking for!

The NDA Diploma in Professional Garden Design will put you on the path to starting the business you have always wanted. It will also give you the opportunity to study one of our degree courses (such as BA (Hons) Design for Outdoor Living,) if you decide you want to push your skills further.

What Will I Study?

You will study eight dedicated units during this professional diploma

Garden Design & the Role of the Designer

This unit introduces you to the purpose of garden design and the development of key garden design trends. In addition, it teaches you about the role and responsibilities of the garden designer and the main principles garden designers work with in the present day. This unit also includes:

  • The history and development of garden design and key styles
  • The effect garden design history has on contemporary gardens
  • Skills required to fulfil the role of garden designer
  • Stages of the garden design process
  • The importance of the design brief
  • Working with clients and other professionals

Garden Design Principles

Within this unit, you will learn about the components that make up a garden, exploring core elements that are common within a successful design scheme. You will learn how these ingredients work together to influence the appearance, usability and function of a garden space. This unit also includes:

  • Applying techniques to create a sense of movement through the space or to highlight a focal point
  • Using scale and proportion that relates to the property and the practical use of space
  • The use of colour, texture and form to create a variety of moods in an exterior space
  • Creating a variety of effects using garden components: boundaries, structures, planting, soft & hard landscape
  • Creating balance, unity and cohesion within a scheme
  • Light and shade as part of the garden design

Exploring Site Surveys & Drawing Plans

Within this unit, you will learn how to measure a garden space and draw it to scale. You will also learn how gather important information about the site and how this information will influence your garden design decisions. You will develop drawing skills and produce your own site survey plan. This unit also includes:

  • Site surveying – how & what to measure or record on site
  • Surveying tools
  • Understanding scale
  • Developing site survey plans to scale, step by step
  • Hand drawn or CAD – students may produce either
  • Industry standard drawing conventions

Space Planning & Garden Design Development in a Professional Context

This unit will inspire your creativity by developing your garden design skills. You will develop spatial planning skills and explore innovative ideas related to the aesthetics and practicality of garden layout. You will learn how to produces sketches, technical plans and elevations, how to select your strongest designs in relation to client briefs, as well as how to present this information professionally to clients, trade or contractors. This unit also includes:

  • Developmental space planning techniques
  • Exploring layout composition
  • Traffic flow and effective zoning of space
  • Drawing plans to scale
  • Drawing elevations to show vertical dimensions and to propose elements such as boundaries, steps, raised beds, furniture and planting forms
  • Ensuring successful practical and creative designs for your clients

Hard Landscaping, Furniture, Lighting & Accessories

This unit focuses on products and materials for hard landscaping and water features, along with the items that provide the finishing touches to the garden space, such as furniture, lighting and accessories. You will explore products and materials for their practical, ethical, and aesthetic characteristics, making suitable choices for a garden scheme and presenting these to meet a client brief. This unit also includes:

  • Products and materials for hard landscaping, water features, furniture, lighting and accessories in garden design
  • Practical and aesthetic qualities and suitability for use in an outside space
  • Selecting, sourcing and using products and materials
  • Incorporating products and materials in your design
  • Visually communicating your ideas, the professional way

Planting Design

This unit will help you to understand plant biology, the environmental requirements of plants and the importance of selecting appropriate planting as part of your design. It looks at how you source your plants and the practical and aesthetic considerations to be considered when developing a planting plan to a design brief. In addition, you will learn how to present planting plans and specifications to a professional standard. This unit also includes:

  • Plant identification and plant features: flowers, fruits, leaves, stems
  • Plant names and classification
  • Basic plant biology and environmental requirements
  • The role of plants in the garden
  • Selection & design for site context, functionality and client requirements
  • Selection & design for visual aesthetics
  • Production of planting plans and specifications

Professional Practice in Garden Design

This unit explores the wide array of creative and technical roles and diverse possibilities for professional engagement and career progression in this dynamic and competitive industry. It will help to prepare you to work successfully in the professional environment, whether for an established practice or setting up a garden design business. With a focus on your personal and professional development, you will consider the steps you should take to achieve your own progression ambitions. This unit also includes:

  • Being employed, self-employed and setting up a garden design service
  • Portfolio development
  • Working with others in a professional environment
  • Effective marketing and promotion
  • How to cost garden design projects and services

Professional Garden Design Project

For the final unit of the course, you bring together all your newly learned skills by producing conceptual designs and a design pack to create a wonderful garden design for a new client. When complete, your work will form an asset to your developing portfolio to show future clients. This unit also includes:

  • Design development
  • Reflecting on the challenges to enhance your final concept plan
  • Preparing a rationale
  • Professional presentation techniques
Unit 1

Garden Design & the Role of the Designer

This unit introduces you to the purpose of garden design and the development of key garden design trends. In addition, it teaches you about the role and responsibilities of the garden designer and the main principles garden designers work with in the present day. This unit also includes:

  • The history and development of garden design and key styles
  • The effect garden design history has on contemporary gardens
  • Skills required to fulfil the role of garden designer
  • Stages of the garden design process
  • The importance of the design brief
  • Working with clients and other professionals
Unit 2

Garden Design Principles

Within this unit, you will learn about the components that make up a garden, exploring core elements that are common within a successful design scheme. You will learn how these ingredients work together to influence the appearance, usability and function of a garden space. This unit also includes:

  • Applying techniques to create a sense of movement through the space or to highlight a focal point
  • Using scale and proportion that relates to the property and the practical use of space
  • The use of colour, texture and form to create a variety of moods in an exterior space
  • Creating a variety of effects using garden components: boundaries, structures, planting, soft & hard landscape
  • Creating balance, unity and cohesion within a scheme
  • Light and shade as part of the garden design
Unit 3

Exploring Site Surveys & Drawing Plans

Within this unit, you will learn how to measure a garden space and draw it to scale. You will also learn how gather important information about the site and how this information will influence your garden design decisions. You will develop drawing skills and produce your own site survey plan. This unit also includes:

  • Site surveying – how & what to measure or record on site
  • Surveying tools
  • Understanding scale
  • Developing site survey plans to scale, step by step
  • Hand drawn or CAD – students may produce either
  • Industry standard drawing conventions
Unit 4

Space Planning & Garden Design Development in a Professional Context

This unit will inspire your creativity by developing your garden design skills. You will develop spatial planning skills and explore innovative ideas related to the aesthetics and practicality of garden layout. You will learn how to produces sketches, technical plans and elevations, how to select your strongest designs in relation to client briefs, as well as how to present this information professionally to clients, trade or contractors. This unit also includes:

  • Developmental space planning techniques
  • Exploring layout composition
  • Traffic flow and effective zoning of space
  • Drawing plans to scale
  • Drawing elevations to show vertical dimensions and to propose elements such as boundaries, steps, raised beds, furniture and planting forms
  • Ensuring successful practical and creative designs for your clients
Unit 5

Hard Landscaping, Furniture, Lighting & Accessories

This unit focuses on products and materials for hard landscaping and water features, along with the items that provide the finishing touches to the garden space, such as furniture, lighting and accessories. You will explore products and materials for their practical, ethical, and aesthetic characteristics, making suitable choices for a garden scheme and presenting these to meet a client brief. This unit also includes:

  • Products and materials for hard landscaping, water features, furniture, lighting and accessories in garden design
  • Practical and aesthetic qualities and suitability for use in an outside space
  • Selecting, sourcing and using products and materials
  • Incorporating products and materials in your design
  • Visually communicating your ideas, the professional way
Unit 6

Planting Design

This unit will help you to understand plant biology, the environmental requirements of plants and the importance of selecting appropriate planting as part of your design. It looks at how you source your plants and the practical and aesthetic considerations to be considered when developing a planting plan to a design brief. In addition, you will learn how to present planting plans and specifications to a professional standard. This unit also includes:

  • Plant identification and plant features: flowers, fruits, leaves, stems
  • Plant names and classification
  • Basic plant biology and environmental requirements
  • The role of plants in the garden
  • Selection & design for site context, functionality and client requirements
  • Selection & design for visual aesthetics
  • Production of planting plans and specifications
Unit 7

Professional Practice in Garden Design

This unit explores the wide array of creative and technical roles and diverse possibilities for professional engagement and career progression in this dynamic and competitive industry. It will help to prepare you to work successfully in the professional environment, whether for an established practice or setting up a garden design business. With a focus on your personal and professional development, you will consider the steps you should take to achieve your own progression ambitions. This unit also includes:

  • Being employed, self-employed and setting up a garden design service
  • Portfolio development
  • Working with others in a professional environment
  • Effective marketing and promotion
  • How to cost garden design projects and services
Unit 8

Professional Garden Design Project

For the final unit of the course, you bring together all your newly learned skills by producing conceptual designs and a design pack to create a wonderful garden design for a new client. When complete, your work will form an asset to your developing portfolio to show future clients. This unit also includes:

  • Design development
  • Reflecting on the challenges to enhance your final concept plan
  • Preparing a rationale
  • Professional presentation techniques

Student Gallery

A sample of work completed by our talented garden design students

One Great Course, Two Ways To Study

Choose from flexible online learning or online fast-track (zoom lectures).

Online Flexible

8–10 Months (Flexible)

The online Professional Diploma course is designed to be flexible to allow you to study around your career, family, and other commitments. Choose your own start date and study from anywhere in the world as long as you have an internet connection.

The online diploma is a 8-10 month course however, many students who have more time to study complete earlier. All assignments consist of design projects which are assessed by your Personal Tutor – there are no examinations.

Online Fast-Track

14 weeks home study & online lectures (via zoom)

For students who want all the benefits of remote online learning, but are also looking for more structure and live interaction with tutors and peers, the ‘Online Fast-Track’ course offers an ideal mix.

The course consists of a 8-week study period that covers each of the 8 subject units in the Diploma course, one unit per week. 2.5hr live zoom lectures are organised two days per week. Up to 4 ‘Independent Study’ weeks within the duration let students complete any unfinished assignments.

UK residents pay approximately 50% course fees and funding from the UK government will pay the rest.

No upfront course fees to find. If you are aged 19+ and have lived in England for 3+ years you are eligible.

Accreditation

All NDA Professional Diplomas are accredited by AIM Qualifications. NDA is the only design school to be able to offer funding & student loans because our Diplomas are fully accredited.

Online Diploma Course Fees

UK Students

Non-Funded
Course Fee £1,590
Less
UK Government Funding
NDA Funded Course Fee £895

There are two ways for UK students to pay for their Online Diploma:

One Payment

£ 895 On Enrolment
  •  
Most Popular

8 x Monthly Payments

£ 120 Per Month*
  • £960 in total
* Monthly payments include admin fee.

International Students

There are two ways for International students to pay for their Online Diploma:

One Payment

$ 1,850 On Enrolment
  • Save $250 by paying in full
Most Popular

7 x Monthly Payments

$ 2,100 IN TOTAL*
  • $450 on enrolment
  • + 6 x $275 monthly payments
* Monthly payments include admin fee.
International fees in US dollars.

What Will I Need To Study?

Alongside a computer and an internet connection, there is also essential and recommended design equipment required to complete your NDA Course, all available through the NDA Art Shop at student prices!

What's Next?

Higher Education

Successful completion of your NDA Diploma provides a guaranteed place on one of our online BA (Hons) degrees, such as BA (Hons) Design for Outdoor Living, with a generous Progression Scholarship. Degrees are validated by De Montfort University (DMU).

For those who wish to continue their study at an on campus university, all NDA Professional Diplomas carry a UCAS tariff point value. You can top up any existing UCAS points you may have with points from an NDA Diploma. 

Diploma in Professional Garden Design = 24 UCAS tariff points.

Careers

The Diploma in Professional Garden Design is designed to help you start your own Garden Design business. Like the Diploma course itself, you can work flexibly for your clients around your family commitments and gradually expand your business.

Many of our Diploma students start their own business and study for their degree flexibly alongside their client projects.

Student Success Stories...

Ready to pursue your passion for Garden Design?

What Our Students Say...

Hear what past and present students have to say about studying at the NDA

Course Timeline

3rd September to 20th January

Introduction Week

Course Introduction

2 hour Live Online Introduction Session
Tuesday, 3rd September @ 10am (UK Time) 1pm (Dubai Time)

Week 1

Unit 01: Fabric Selection & Colour Theory

2.5 hour Live Online Tutorial
Tuesday, 10th September @ 10am (UK Time) 1pm (Dubai Time)

2.5 hour Live Q&A Session
Friday, 13th September @ 10am (UK Time) 1pm (Dubai Time)

Week 2

Unit 02: Estimation for Soft Furnishings

2.5 hour Live Online Tutorial
Tuesday, 17th September @ 10am (UK Time) 1pm (Dubai Time)

2.5 hour Live Q&A Session
Friday, 20th September @ 10am (UK Time) 1pm (Dubai Time)

Week 3

Independent Study Break Week

Commencing Monday, 23rd September

Week 4

Unit 03: Window Treatments: Mitres, Hand-Stitching Techniques & Pattern Matching

2.5 hour Live Online Tutorial
Tuesday, 1st October @ 10am (UK Time) 1pm (Dubai Time)

2.5 hour Live Q&A Session
Friday, 4th October @ 10am (UK Time) 1pm (Dubai Time)

Week 5

Unit 04: Lined & Interlined Curtain Construction

2.5 hour Live Online Tutorial
Tuesday, 8th October @ 10am (UK Time) 1pm (Dubai Time)

2.5 hour Live Q&A Session
Friday, 11th October @ 10am (UK Time) 1pm (Dubai Time)

Week 6

Independent Study Break Week

Commencing Monday, 14th October

Week 7

Unit 05: Constructing Hand-Sewn Buckram Headers

2.5 hour Live Online Tutorial
Tuesday, 22nd October @ 10am (UK Time) 1pm (Dubai Time)

2.5 hour Live Q&A Session
Friday, 25th October @ 10am (UK Time) 1pm (Dubai Time)

Week 8

Unit 06: Constructing Piped Crescent Tie-Back & Piped Cushion

2.5 hour Live Online Tutorial
Tuesday, 29th October @ 10am (UK Time) 2pm (Dubai Time)

2.5 hour Live Q&A Session
Friday, 1st November @ 10am (UK Time) 2pm (Dubai Time)

Week 9

Independent Study Break Week

Commencing Monday, 4th November

Week 10

Unit 07: Constructing a Roman Blind

2.5 hour Live Online Tutorial
Tuesday, 12th November @ 10am (UK Time) 2pm (Dubai Time)

2.5 hour Live Q&A Session
Friday, 15th November @ 10am (UK Time) 2pm (Dubai Time)

Week 11

Independent Study Break Week

Commencing Monday, 18th November

Week 12

Unit 08: Constructing Padded Pelmets

2.5 hour Live Online Tutorial
Tuesday, 26th November @ 10am (UK Time) 2pm (Dubai Time)

2.5 hour Live Q&A Session
Friday, 29th November @ 10am (UK Time) 2pm (Dubai Time)

Week 13

Unit 09: Constructing Swags & Tails (Swags)

2.5 hour Live Online Tutorial
Tuesday, 3rd December @ 10am (UK Time) 2pm (Dubai Time)

2.5 hour Live Q&A Session
Friday, 6th December @ 10am (UK Time) 2pm (Dubai Time)

Week 14

Unit 09: Constructing Swags & Tails (Tails)

2.5 hour Live Online Tutorial
Tuesday, 10th December @ 10am (UK Time) 2pm (Dubai Time)

2.5 hour Live Q&A Session
Friday, 13th December @ 10am (UK Time) 2pm (Dubai Time)

Week 15

Unit 10: Setting-up a Curtain Making & Soft Furnishings Workroom

2.5 hour Live Online Tutorial
Tuesday, 17th December @ 10am (UK Time) 2pm (Dubai Time)

2.5 hour Live Q&A Session
*Thursday, 19th December @ 10am (UK Time) 2pm (Dubai Time)
*One day early due to office closure

Christmas Holidays

NDA Office Closed

20th December - 6th January

Week 16 & 17

Independent Study Break Week x2

Commencing Monday, 6th & 13th January

Week 18

Project hand-in

Monday, 20th January 2025

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