The Online Diploma in Garden Design

From January 2025, aspiring garden designers from across the world will be able to study with us on our newly launched Online Diploma in Garden Design.  Created by Alistair and the team at YSGD, the course provides industry-leading teaching, content and tutor support, all accessible from the comfort of your own home.  The Online Diploma prepares students for their journey towards starting their own practice or joining the team of an established designer.  The curated online format of the course gives students a competitive edge, equipping them for modern, remote working practices alongside the design, technical, business and communication skills needed to create gardens to the highest standards.

Like our in-person Diploma, the Online course is delivered by a team of tutors and contributors made up of professional practitioners and specialists in their field, all working in the industry.  These include leading designers, show-garden aficionados and landscape contractors, architects, artists, horticulturalists, head-gardeners, lighting designers and water specialists.

Alistair draws on his international network of friends and collaborators and his own team of designers to share their passions, techniques and advice with the students.  This ensures that everyone studying our Online Diploma is exposed to the best in the profession, whilst also building a live network of industry connections. Please visit our teaching and learning page for further details.

Who is the course for?

For all those who have a passion for garden design and want to pursue it as a career but who may not have the time or ability to study in person.  If you’re a career-changer or you’re 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’d love to hear from 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?

The Online Diploma is a two-year course that follows the calendar year, starting from 7th January 2025 and aligning with school term times, breaking for Easter, Summer and Christmas and the usual half terms.

The Online Diploma involves a weekly contact day on Tuesdays, during term time.  On this day new video content, seminars, course notes and recorded lectures will be released.  Detailed project briefs will be set, supported by a programme of live online lectures, tutorials, group seminars and feedback sessions.

The timings for the weekly contact day will vary depending on the new content being released.  For international students studying with us in different time zones, all the content released on Tuesdays will be accessible online via our interactive learning hub.

What does the course cover?

The course is designed to suit the online learning environment and is informed by Alistair’s many years of successful practice and teaching in the industry, covering all those topics recognised as the key foundational skills required for success.

Students learn through a programme of live, online and pre-recorded lectures, specially created video content, course notes, group exercises, and one-to-one tutorials, all facilitated through a state-of-the-art online learning hub.

Our Online Diploma is delivered across two years to allow knowledge and understanding to be developed incrementally. Topics are introduced, explored and applied in year one, with a progression in year two to more in-depth study.  This culminates in a final project that calls upon all the skills learnt throughout the course.

As well as covering the fundamental principles of garden design and placemaking, the comprehensive course covers a full spectrum of subjects and areas of learning.  This includes the wonders of colour, the beauty of proportion and geometry and an in-depth study of plants across the two years with modules on taxonomy and planting design.

The technical aspects of garden design are explored in-depth with learning strands introducing a full suite of software packages including Vectorworks, Photoshop and Sketchup.  In addition construction design is covered in detail with lectures from industry experts supported by first-hand advice and how-to guides.  Our Professional Practice modules have been created to give students the skills and knowledge needed to transition from studying through to practicing garden design.  These include the business aspects of running your own practice as well as working for other designers and in a range of specialist roles within the industry.

For a detailed overview of the syllabus use the link below to request a copy of the course prospectus, which includes information on term dates, course content, projects, entry requirements and fees.

How much work is involved?

Spread across two years, the Online Diploma in Garden Design has been created for aspiring garden designers and those looking for a new challenge but who might not have sufficient time or resources to commit to an in-person course.  The course strikes a careful balance between flexible learning and sufficient structure, contact time and project submissions to ensure students achieve their ambitions and learning goals.

Over and above the one day per week when the course content is released students should allow an extra day per week for learning and coursework.

What does the Diploma in Garden Design cost?

The fee for the Online Diploma in Garden Design is £9495 + VAT.  This includes access to all the online learning resources and a drawing starter kit that will be sent out to you on enrolment.  A £895 + VAT deposit is required to secure your place, after which, fees for each of the two years are due by one month before the first day of the course.

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 with Alistair or a senior member of the Diploma staff team.  We also offer an online ‘open day’, allowing potential students to meet Alistair and the team and get a feel for studying at YSGD – click the Enquire about a Course button to find out more.