A comprehensive and practical qualification in garden design

Diploma Garden Design

Part TimeOpen Learning


Boasting a syllabus that combines practical hard landscaping and gardening skills, plant science and creative design principles, this exciting one year Diploma course prepares students for a career in the garden design industry. Throughout the course students are trained to think like a designer, as well as expanding their horticultural knowledge, meaning students graduate with a respected qualification, an impressive portfolio of work and the skills and confidence to work on professional design projects. Alumni from this course have gone on to exhibit and win medals at RHS Chelsea Flower Show (above: Marie-Louise Agius, Gold Medal, 2013) and RHS Hampton Court Flower Show, as well as being employed by established designers such as Andy Sturgeon, Marcus Barnett and John Nash. 

Course Details

Term One

Design Project 1         Chelsea Fringe Proposal
Design Project 2         Residential Garden
Research Project 1     Plant Combinations File

The year starts with exploratory design sessions; enabling students to get to know their tutors and classmates and immersing them in sketching and technical drawing workshops, as well as introducing design principles, planting and garden history.

The term continues with training in practical gardening skills such as pruning, training and propagation, as well as planting design and principles, including plans, schedules and using colour. Students are encouraged to develop their creative eye by keeping a plant sketchbook and learning to hand-render their plans and drawings. An overview of the design process is also given, with topics such as surveying a site, taking the client brief and project management all being introduced.

Term Two

Design Project 3         Hampton Court Conceptual Show Garden
Design Project 4         Derelict Space
Research Project 2     Construction File

Focusing on complex design situations and theory, including designing challenging sites, this term progresses students’ knowledge of garden design principles, creativity and concept work, as well as covering hard landscaping topics, such as construction and outdoor plumbing.  Advanced visual communication techniques are introduced, such as one and two point perspective drawing and computer aided design software, such as SketchUp, Photoshop and Vectorworks Landmarks. A range of inspirational visits and lectures are also included in the course timetable to complement the on going projects.

Term Three

Design Project 5         Commercial Project
Design Project 6         Historical Garden

The course concludes with two large design projects, incorporating all of the skills students have learnt so far, as well as further teaching on professional business practice; including specifications, contracts, project management, proposals and costing. Students are also offered portfolio advice and careers workshops to help them get started in the industry.

The year then culminates in a final Exhibition and graduation ceremony, with professionals from the garden design industry being invited to view students’ final projects.


"If you want to be totally immersed in the world of garden design and meet many successful designers then KLC School of Design is a great place to start!"
Rup Rahman, Alumni

Study Method

The course is part time, with two full days a week at school and an average of 20 hours additional study required outside of class.

Wednesday & Thursday         10.00am – 4.00pm

Students attend school on Wednesdays and Thursdays in Chelsea Harbour. Throughout the year there are six and a half days of compulsory practical workshops held in the 20 Century Garden at Hampton Court Palace, with the option of an additional horticulture session held there each Friday.


"The course encourages creativity and builds personal confidence, providing the necessary knowledge and skills to begin a career in the garden design industry."
Matthew Childs, Alumni

Entry Requirements

No previous experience in garden design or horticulture is required for this course; we simply ask that you have a passion and a drive to learn more about this exciting field of design!

Entry onto the course is by interview only, so please complete the Request an Interview form or call our Admissions team to book your appointment.

To prepare for your interview, you will be asked to complete the following:

  • Interview forms, including education and career history
  • A creative exercise based on a small family garden
  • A multiple choice spatial awareness test

For applicants whose first language is not English, an IELTS score of 6.5 may be required.

Computer aided design is a key part of this course; therefore applicants must be computer literate and able to confidently use their personal laptop.

Please note we are unable to take international applicants for this course, as it is not supported by any study visas.

  • Design, horticulture and business skills
  • Practical sessions at Hampton Court Palace
  • Small class sizes with close tutor supervision
  • Graduates working with prestigious designers
Speak with an advisor today
020 7376 3377
  • 10 January - 29 November 201810 January 2018 00.00am 29 November 2018 00.00am
  • KLC Diploma Garden Design
  • 1 year
  • 2 days a week, plus 20+ hours outside of class
  • No previous experience necessary, suitable for career changers, applicants must be 18 or over
  • Entry to garden design industry/entrepreneurial opportunities
  • Chelsea Harbour, 503 Design Centre East, Chelsea Harbour, London, SW10 0XF+44 (0)20 7376 3377
  • Career Development Loan
For information on paying by instalments, please read our Schedule of Fee Payments.

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