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4 Ways to Study Garden Design
Let me be clear. These are not the only ways to learn landscape architecture. But they are four of the routes commonly taken by people who want to improve their landscape design skills, whether for personal or professional reasons.
1. Local Garden Design Courses
Many community colleges and universities offer certificate programs in landscape design or landscape architecture. Some even offer degrees. Skills learned can be used to create anything from a more water-efficient front yard to a state park.
According to UCLA Extension, landscape architecture is a profession with multidisciplinary requirements. This field requires a mixture of knowledge related to sustainability, construction, environmental systems, water and land conservation and design.
These types of certificate programs are great for the following:
- Working toward a career as a licensed landscape architect
- Learning to create urban, theme park, trail and park landscapes
- Working toward starting a career facilitating community gardens
Here are just some of the things you can learn when studying garden design at a university or local community college:
- Create landscapes by learning drawing techniques and processes of design
- Learn the principles and fundamentals of design through drawing and models
- Grasp the art of combining natural and scientific processes when designing landscapes
- Discover ways to effectively analyze physical form and design issues
- Study the practice and history of landscape and garden designing
- Learn professional ethics and management practices in various dimensions
2. Online Garden Design Courses
Many people hoping to study garden design have turned to online courses, especially since the COVID-19 quarantines and lockdowns. Below, you’ll find the top six online courses, based on user ratings, for learning the art of landscaping design:
- Fundamentals of Garden Design (Udemy)
- Landscape Design Course Online (New York Institute of Art and Design)
- Sustainable Landscape Design Course (Oregon State University)
- Career Diploma Landscape Design (Ashworth College)
- Landscape Architecture & Horticulture (UCLA Extension)
- Online Landscaping Training (Penn Foster)
The New York Institute of Art + Design covers the fundamentals needed to become a professional in this field. Then, the next phase begins, where students get hands-on training on professional techniques used in design. Learn how to operate a landscape design business and what you’ll actually do working on a job.
After learning basic techniques, students learn the best ways to apply them to develop landscapes. Learn how to identify plants and use structural materials used for executing garden design projects. Master the knowledge and theories needed to keep existing landscapes looking out of this world.
These are just some of the things a student should know after completing such a course:
- How to interpret a landscape’s visual elements through graphic tools and drawings and apply them to personal design ideas for customers and clients
- Ways to visualize the landscape space as different outdoor rooms to apply standard principles for enhancing outdoor spaces
- How to apply both computer-based and mathematical solutions to the business-related and design-related function of the designing process
- The art of identifying various types of flowers, trees, shrubs, plants, enclosures and surface materials used to enhance and improve garden design spaces
- How to effectively identify and define professional landscaping business operation concepts such as specifications, contracts, OSHA compliance and customer service
- Ways to describe the various traits of winterizing, irrigation and other general maintenance tasks needed to keep an established landscape maintained
3. YouTube Garden Design Videos
Just like with anything else these days, you can always turn to YouTube videos to learn about landscape design. There are numerous videos that teach how to create the perfect landscape and garden areas that are both pleasing to the eyes and highly functional.
YouTube Example One: Landscaping 101
This Lowe’s Home Improvement video entitled, How To Design The Perfect Landscape | Landscape Design 101, covers effective ways to start the process of planning a home landscape. It walks you through the following:
- Understanding the basics of your existing landscape
- Creating a logical plan for a new and improved design
- Choosing the right types of plants for your home
- Tips and tricks on residential hardscaping
YouTube Example Two: Landscape Redesign
Another useful YouTube video published by The Home Depot is entitled, How To Redesign a Landscape | The Home Depot Gardenieres. In it, Jim Cunneen walks the audience through redesigning a residential landscape. Some of the topics covered include:
- Drawing up a landscape redesign plan
- Choosing plant materials
- Safely removing plants
- Inspecting and amending the soil
- How to plant new greenery
- Adding high-grade mulch to the garden
- Recap of how things look two months later
- Watering with a water-soluble fertilizer
4. Learn Garden Design from Master Gardeners
What is a master gardener? They are volunteers trained by instructors and other specialists. These gardening lovers use research-based data to foster sustainable and environmentally responsible horticultural practices within their local communities.
After earning the credentials of Master Gardener, each one is responsible for volunteering locally. Within their own communities, these gardening masters:
- Give lectures
- Conduct research
- Create and give tours of local gardens
- Answer questions from other gardeners about pests, bugs, diseases and other issues affecting soil, greenery and landscapes in general
So, where do you find your local master gardeners? Well, you can start by simply googling it. I made my connection with my local Riverside County Master Gardeners by visiting our weekly local Farmer’s Market. They have a booth there every third Thursday of the month. I’m always excited to see that table.
There’s usually some type of pest issue I’m dealing with that they have knowledge about that they are more than eager to share with me. And because they also garden in my local area, each time I catch them, there are brochures at the booth directly related to what I’m going through at the time. They even give away packs of seeds harvested from their own personal, local gardens.
Here are some of the things master gardeners do that can help you on your journey to studying garden design:
- Create and maintain local gardens for educational and demonstrational purposes throughout the county that showcase best gardening practices and give the public hands-on opportunities to learn
- Provide low-cost and even free gardening workshops and design classes on local seasonal topics
- Offer some type of help desk and event information tables that provide the public with problem-solving assistance free of cost
- Maintain an up-to-date website and email list to provide subscribers with monthly event announcements and tips and tricks via email newsletters
- Provide professional landscape design and gardening assistance to local community and school gardens
- Create gardening programs and projects for senior citizens, children and other special interest groups with special needs
- Offer free community plant clinics and help diagnose diseases and other issues for local gardeners