The Diploma in Garden Design

Photo: Ray Cox

Our flagship course has been created by Alistair for those who are interested in pursuing a career as a professional garden designer.  Delivered at the glorious Harewood House between Leeds and Harrogate our Diploma in Garden Design will prepare students for either starting their own practice or joining the team of an established designer, equipping them with all the design, technical, business and communication skills needed to design gardens to the highest standard.

We have assembled a team of tutors and contributors from around the globe to make sure our Diploma students are exposed to the best in the profession. From leading designers, show-garden aficionados and landscape contractors to architects, artists, horticulturists, head gardeners, lighting designers and water specialists, Alistair draws on his international network of friends and collaborators as well as his own team of designers to share their passions, techniques and advice with students. Please visit our teaching and learning page for further details.

Who is the course for?

We welcome applications from anyone who has a passion for garden design and wants to pursue it as a career. We have a range of short courses for those who would like to dip their toe in and see if garden design is for them, however the Diploma has been created specifically for the aspiring professionals out there.

If you’re a career-changer, finishing full-time education with a love of plants and the outdoors, a retiree seeking a new path or simply at that point in life where you’d like a challenge and a new direction we would love to hear form you.  To make sure the course is the right one for our students we’ve designed a simple application process, details of which are at the bottom of this page.

When does the course run?

To keep things simple, our Diploma in Garden Design follows normal school terms, starting in September, breaking for Christmas and Easter and the usual half terms, and finishing in July. This year, we kick off in the week of the 5th of September.

The Diploma involves two days of contact a week during term time with one of those days filled with lectures, workshops, seminars or excursions while the second day is for students to design in a studio environment and receive one-to-one tuition and feedback from tutors on their current assignment.

Our contact days run from 10am through to 4pm, allowing students to travel to and from home at a reasonable hour.  The course includes a short study tour in the Spring/Summer term and the details of the tour, including dates and accommodation and travel costs, will be shared at the start of the course.

What does the course cover?

The world of professional garden design is hugely exciting and multi-faceted.  The Diploma has been created to equip our students with the knowledge they need through a carefully designed blend of teaching, learning and personal development.

Students learn through class-room based lectures and workshops, organised field visits and their own study. The course covers all those topics that over the years Alistair has come to recognise as key skills for the garden designer and the topics are explored sequentially through the year, building knowledge and understanding incrementally.

As well as covering the fundamental principles of garden design and placemaking, including the wonders of colour and the beauty of proportion and geometry, the course benefits from the wonderful collections of plants at Harewood during modules on taxonomy and planting design.

The technical aspects of garden design are explored in detail, from software packages to construction design with plenty of advice from industry experts and how-to guides along the way. We also cover the business aspects of being a professional garden designer, making sure students are ready to make the leap into professional practice.

For a full run-down of the syllabus please use the link below to request a brochure in which you’ll find details on term dates, course content, entry requirements and fees.

How much work is involved?

The Diploma in Garden Design involves a number of assignments of varying sizes during the course. These vary in complexity and are designed to expand your learning and help you achieve your goals.

Over and above their two days a week of term-time attendance, students should allow for an extra one to two days equivalent a week to complete their coursework.

What does the Diploma in Garden Design cost?

The fee for the Diploma in Garden Design is £8750 + VAT.  This includes entry fees to gardens during excursions and a drawing starter kit on enrolment.  A £895 + VAT deposit is required to secure your place, after which fees are due by the first day of the course or may be paid in three termly instalments.  The course includes a short UK based study tour, for which students will pay their travel and accommodation costs.

How do I apply?

The application process is very straightforward.  Simply click on Enquire about a Course and let us know a bit about yourself.  We will arrange an informal chat about your application with Alistair or a senior member of the Diploma staff team.  We also offer a Garden Design Open Day for those interested in studying with us, at which you can meet Alistair and his team and get a feel for studying at the YSGD – click the Enquire about a Course button to find out more.