The art and process of designing a garden is nothing new. Garden design can be traced back to Roman times where Vitruvius, a writer and architect wrote of structures and places. Later, the UK saw a re-emergence of outdoor design during the Renaissance period up until the 18thcentury where formal landscape gardens were created in large gardens of country houses. By the 19th century gardening and design was becoming more accessible to the masses and the country saw the first educated plantsmen and garden designers creating cottage gardens, flower and productive gardens. Today, garden design is big business. Large garden shows such as the Chelsea Flower Show feature on prime time television and the rise of the celebrity gardener, including the likes of Alan Titchmarsh and Monty Don who have become household names, have given rise to the profile of the subject.
The designing of gardens is not just about making a plan and planting some plants. Most designers are horticulturalists as well as designers. Garden designers need to be able to plan, design and produce a garden that is within a set budget, be maintainable and builds on the existing conditions of the site. Gardens have many purposes and this will also need to be taken into consideration. Garden designers are specialists in the design of landscapes and garden areas and also offer advice and provide supervision during construction. A good knowledge of plants and their needs is also necessary.
Garden design is not just confined to the domestic or residential garden. Public parks, regeneration projects and forest and woodlands all often require the skills of a garden designer and many of the courses on offer reflect this. Most courses will offer a mix of art and design skills and a more scientific element on the horticultural side. An overview of the modules you may study, are listed below. It is advisable to check with the institutions themselves for up-to-date information.
Example areas of study
- Three-dimensional design
- Garden art
- Garden design
- Digital landscapes
- Landscape design
- Environmental art
- Garden conservation
- Garden restoration
- Plant and soil science
- Interior landscaping
- Business management
- Project management
- Design sites and materials
- Contemporary and professional practice
- Landscape maintenance
- Trees and woodland in garden design
- Construction technology
- Computer-aided design
- Garden history
- World gardens
- Planting design
- Drawing and planning skills
Some career possibilities
Qualified garden designers are able to work in areas such as town and rural planning, landscape design and construction, freelance design, community schemes and teaching. Postgraduate study is also available.
What do I need to get on a course?
Entry requirements for garden design courses vary on the level of the course and the institution at which you wish to study. A guideline to the entry requirements necessary is listed below but you will need to check with the institutions themselves.
- UCAS Tariff: 80-240 points
- A-level: C-CCC
- SQA Advanced Highers: CC
- Irish Leaving Certificates: CCCC-BCCC
- International Baccalaureate: 24-32 points
- BTEC National Diploma: DD - MMM in a relevant subject
- HND: relevant subject. In some cases you may be able to start a degree in year two or three
- Art Foundation course
- Access: relevant subjects
- Foundation degree: relevant subject
For your application or interview the following may be useful:
- Some drawing skills and artistic flair along with a strong interest in horticulture and garden design will be useful
- Further information on the industry is available from the British Association of Landscape Industries, the Society of Garden Designers, The Landscape Institute and The Royal Horticultural Society.
To find out more about the typical subjects you will study, potential career paths and further information useful for your application log-on to Course Discover at www.coursediscoveronline.co.uk*
*NB: Your school or college will need a subscription to Course Discover in order for you to gain access, for further information go to:www.coursediscover.co.uk