About the course

The Diploma in Professional Garden Design is the ideal course if you would like to use professional techniques to design your own garden, help your friends and family with theirs or if you would like to set up your own Garden Design business.

If you already have a gardening or Garden Design business but don’t have formal qualifications, then you can study this Diploma course flexibly to fit around your existing clients.

No qualifications are required to study this diploma course, so – if you already hold a Level 3 or A-Level equivalent qualification in an Art and Design based subject, you can enrol straight onto one of our degree courses.

Who should do the course?

Are you someone who loves natural surroundings, combining trees, plants and the colour of flowers with everyday life? Do you dream of designing beautiful landscapes? Have you got the creative talent but lack the professional training? Would you like to start a career in designing gardens but don’t have the necessary qualification?

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

The NDA Accredited 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 if you decide you want to push your skills further.

Study online

Course Duration – 6 – 12 months (flexible)

Our online Diploma course is designed to be flexible to your needs allowing you to study around your family, work or any other lifestyle commitments you may have. Choose your own start date and study from anywhere around the world as long as you have an internet connection. The online diploma is a 12-month course however, you can complete earlier if you have more time to study. All assignments consist of design projects which are assessed by your Personal Tutor – there are no examinations in this course.


Study In-Studio

Course Duration – 12 weeks (2 weeks In-Studio)

If you prefer a classroom-based study environment then our In-Studio blended learning course could be for you. It is particularly useful if you are looking to fast-track your qualification, either for a new career or for progression to degree level study. You spend your first week in-studio followed by 5 weeks home study, then another full week in-studio with up to an additional 5 weeks to complete any project work for submission. Throughout the home study, you have full online access to our resources and your Personal Tutor.



As our Diplomas are accredited by AIM Awards, you will receive the AIM Awards Level 3 Diploma in Professional Garden Design Skills. It is really important that your Garden Design Diploma is fully accredited if you hope to start your own business, a new career or to progress onto a Degree. Accreditation is your only guarantee that our quality and teaching standards are inspected and regulated. NDA offers the ONLY online Professional Garden Design Diploma course accredited in the UK.

To be fully accredited a Diploma course must have an OFQUAL number, so you can check it on the OFQUAL register. If the course does not have this number – then it CANNOT be accredited and will not count. Your studies should always be rewarded with a qualification that will help you to progress and achieve your future goals.

You can find OFQUAL details here: 600/5882/1.

Discover our course fees


Further Education

Once you have successfully completed the NDA Diploma in Professional Garden Design, students completing our diploma will be offered a guaranteed place onto our degree with a generous Progression Scholarship. Degrees are awarded by our academic partner, De Montfort University Leicester (DMU), and they are studied online in the same way as your Diploma.



The Diploma in Professional Garden Design is designed to help you start your own Garden Design business. The Diploma contains professional advice on how to set up a business, marketing tips, quoting and charging for your services and all the equipment you will need. Like the Diploma course itself, you can work flexibly for your clients around your family commitments and gradually expand your business. You could also study the Professional Interior Design Diploma to offer additional design services to your clients.

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What will I study?

Unit 1 - Background to Garden Design

This unit introduces you to the definition of Garden Design and key Garden styles. It covers the history of Garden Design and the main design principles Garden Designers work with in the present day. This unit also includes:-
> The definition of Garden Design
> The history and development of Garden Design
> The effect garden design history has on contemporary gardens
> Garden Design styles, e.g. formal, classical, urban, rural, cottage etc

Unit 2 - The Role of the Garden Designer

This Unit introduces you to a design brief and takes you through the different stages of the garden design process, giving you an understanding of the role and responsibilities of the garden designer. This unit also includes:
> Skills required to fulfil the role of Garden Designer
> Stages of the garden design process
> The importance of the design brief
> An introduction to the virtual client, whose garden you will design throughout the course

Unit 3 - Presentation Techniques

Within this Unit, you will learn how to measure a garden and draw it to scale. You will also learn how to start the process of developing conceptual designs for a client. This unit also includes.
> Site surveying - how & what to measure or record on site
> Surveying tools
> Understanding scale
> Developing technical plans to scale, step by step
> Hand drawn or CAD – students may produce either
> Industry standard drawing conventions

Unit 4 - Components of Garden Design

This unit focuses on how you organise and fill your garden design effectively. You will have the opportunity use your creative skills by preparing and presenting your ideas working to a specific garden design brief. This unit also includes:
> Planning the space
> Colour theory & how it will affect your garden design
> Creating a variety of effects using garden components: boundaries, structures, planting, soft & hard landscape
> Using furniture, accessories, play equipment, pets, wild animals and water features for garden design
> Light and shade as part of the garden design
> Concept and design presentation to a client

Unit 5 - Understanding Plants

This Unit will help you to understand planting biology and the importance of selecting appropriate planting as part of your design. This fundamental knowledge will complement your presentation skills when developing a design and help you to communicate your initial ideas. This unit also includes:
> Plant identification
> Plant features: flowers, fruits, leaves, stems
> Hazardous plants
> Basic plant biology: what makes plants green, nutrients, light, water and air
> Plant names and classification
> Soil types and suitability for plants

Unit 6 - Using Hard Landscaping Materials

In this Unit, you will learn how to select specific Hard Landscaping Materials to enhance your design. Increasing your knowledge of sustainable products and practices It also covers how to communicate your ideas visually to your client and how to specify your requirements to a contractor. This unit also includes:
> Types of raw, natural & man-made materials: stone, aggregates, stone composite, metals, glass, timber, synthetics
> Recycled and reclaimed materials
> Using materials creatively for walling, paving, decking, pergolas and arches
> Drawing a Hard Landscaping plan
> Communicating your design via a presentation board
> The importance of a specification

Unit 7 - Selecting Plant Types

This Unit looks at how you source your plants and the practical and aesthetic considerations to be considered when developing a planting layout to a design brief. You will also learn how to present a planting plan to a professional standard. This unit also includes:
> The role of plants in the garden
> Selection & design for site context, functionality and client requirements
> Selection & design for visual aesthetics
> Producing a planting plan
> Planting specifications

Unit 8 - Selecting Furniture & Features

This Unit looks specifically at sourcing furniture, lighting, water features and accessories from the huge variety available, to meet your client brief. You will learn about the main types of garden lighting and how to present this information on a Furniture, Lighting and Accessories Plan. This unit also includes:
> Furniture: human scale, bespoke, style
> Garden lighting: function, types and specification
> Water features: types, style and how to design
> Garden accessories: pots, sculpture, garden art, statues, heating, barbeques / outdoor kitchens
> Presenting your selection to your client
> Designing to accommodate pets and wildlife

Unit 9 - Professional Practice

This unit shows you everything you need to know about how to set up your own garden design business. It also helps you identify other career opportunities within Garden Design, such as working within an established garden design practice or moving on to studying for a degree. This unit also includes:
> Different roles within the Industry
> How to set up a garden design practice
> Marketing and promotion
> How to calculate your fees
> Handling clients and the client brief
> Sourcing suppliers and contractors
> Managing the project

Unit 10 - Producing a Garden Design

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:
> Creating concept plans
> Creating a planting plan
> Creating a hard landscaping plan
> Concept sketches
> Specifications, rationale and order of works

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