Course summary

Completely flexible mode of study to launch your new garden design career

The Online Garden Design Diploma - Open Learning allows anyone to access the garden design training you’ve always wanted and launch your career in the design industry with KLC’s most flexible qualification course - the Open Learning Diploma.

This industry recommended diploma is available to start at any time and can be studied at your own pace, meaning you don’t have to change your work or family commitments in order to enrol.

Contact us

Our friendly team are ready to help you - Mondays to Fridays, 09.00 to 17.30 - Tel: +44(0)20 7376 3377.   

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Great reasons to apply

  • Exceptional level of student support available
  • Enrol today free of charge
  • Study at your own pace
  • Private, commercial and show gardens are covered in the syllabus
  • Career focused qualification course

Open days... Now Online!

Despite the coronavirus lockdown, at KLC it is still business as usual having moved completely online! Join us at our NEW virtual Open Day - Online and watch a presentation by one of our course tutors giving an overview of the courses and see samples of student work. You can also book video chats with our Course Advisors or Course tutors and have all your questions answered to find out which course and study mode is best suited to you.

Register for our Virtual Open Day - Online

Student gallery

  • Contemporary Garden Cottage
  • Eve Hacking Final Master Plan
  • Garden Design Master Plan
  • Garden Design Planting Plan
  • Garden Design Project Planning Tecnical Drawings
  • Garden Perspective Project 6
  • Garden Sketchbook Development
  • Joanna Baldock Small Town Garden Project
  • Joe Brimson Residential Garden Concept Visual
  • Show Garden Project 6 Garden Design
  • Sketch Perspective Garden Design
  • Small Town Garden Master Plan

Course details

The exceptionally comprehensive Diploma Garden Design allows students to combine their love of gardens and plants with their inherent creativity to develop a new and exciting career. The course is designed to be accessible and inspirational with the emphasis on providing the key skills and sound practical knowledge needed for a career in this dynamic field.

The business aspect of running a design practice is given a high priority and students will learn how to run all aspects of a professional design project. By the time students have graduated, they will not only have been awarded a respected qualification but will also have built up an impressive portfolio to show prospective employers and clients.

The Open Learning Diploma Garden Design has built up an outstanding reputation for highly creative and professional graduates well-grounded in garden design and theory, with a good knowledge of plants and planting design, construction, horticultural and professional practice. The high number of graduates working successfully in the industry and winning design awards is a testament to the effectiveness of the course.

Covering everything from plant science and hard landscaping, design principles to professional practice, you’ll learn everything you need to become a professional garden designer.

The study format of the Open Learning Garden Diploma includes a combination of printed and online course materials and the average completion time is 2 years with approximately 12 - 15 hours of study per week. 

 The Open Learning Garden Diploma course includes:

  • Dedicated email support and a telephone helpline (Monday - Friday, 9.00am - 5.30pm)
  • Printed course material, with additional material online
  • CV and portfolio advice
  • 20% discount on KLC Short Courses
  • KLC Alumni Association membership
  • Access to KLC Student Forums
  • Optional ‘Vectorworks Beginners’ video tutorials.

Contact us

If you can't find the information you are looking for or to ask a question, please contact our Admissions team on 020 7376 3377

Course Dates

Start Date:
You can enrol at any time.

Students are given a generous 5 years to complete the course

Study Hours
To fit in with your commitments - e.g. 12-15 hours study per week to complete in 24 months

Course fee

Enrol with our 28-day free trial. The first payment will only be taken after the free trial ends.

An instalment Plan is available for this course

This course is now closed for new enrolments. KLC will be launching a new Online Certificate Residential Garden Design soon.

"The tutors always made me feel supported in everything I did. They dealt with my emails in a very friendly and efficient manner and the information they provided was always excellent and to the point. I always felt valued, even at a distance." Sarah Brookes

Course units

Section One

Design Project 1         Residential Garden - Site Survey & Analysis

Students start the course with learning how to read scale and professionally survey a garden site, going on to practise initial pencil exercises, then how to create plans, elevations and sections from these surveys. A medium sized residential garden of the students’ choice is required for this project and students are taught about the design process, fundamental design principles, taking the client brief and creating concepts. Garden history is also introduced, as well as plant nomenclature and advice on keeping a sketchbook.

Section Two

Design Project 2         Residential Garden – Exploring Garden Layouts

This section develops on the residential garden site from the first project, with students exploring functional layout plans, as well as taking a closer look at plant categories, planting principles - including form, texture & colour - and plant science. This is developed into creating a lakeside planting plan and continuing to progress skills such as sketching, inking and lettering.

Section Three

Design Project 3         Small Town Garden

Moving on to a small town garden project, students look at dealing with difficult sites, construction and garden lighting. They also start to consider professional practise elements of design, such as costing a project, and researching topics such as environment, sustainability & naturalistic planting. Visual presentation skills are developed through teaching on axonometric projection drawings and colour rendering planting combination drawings. Students are also required to submit their garden sketchbook.

Section Four

Design Project 4         Commercial Garden – Hospital Courtyard

Taking on larger projects for the second half of the course, students look further at garden construction, this time from a commercial perspective, using their new knowledge to create detailed construction drawings and a landscaper materials reference table. They continue to progress their horticultural knowledge of with further plant combinations exercises and also explore creating scale models.

Section Five

Design Project 5         Conceptual Show Garden

This section focuses in the main on conceptual gardens, with students being asked to design a conceptual show garden - as though they were exhibiting at the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show. This lends itself to researching contemporary garden design, as well as creating a research profile on a contemporary garden designer. 

Section Six

Design Project 6         Final Residential Garden 

For their final major project, students combine a large residential site of their choosing with a given client and budget, to showcase their full range of knowledge and skills, including professional practise considerations. They will be asked to produce a full project proposal, site survey and analysis, composite photos, a concept board, a functional layout plan, colour rendered master plan, a planting plan and schedule, a colour-rendered elevation and construction detail drawing, a freehand, colour-rendered sketch perspective and lighting plan. Students also present a lighting research document, a history of garden styles notebook and submit their final garden sketchbook.


Educator recognised by Society of Garden Designers 

Society of Garden Designers Educator Status

KLC has been awarded Society of Garden Designers Educator Status. To gain the accreditation the SGD thoroughly check the course content to ensure that we are teaching to a professional level and that the skills, understanding and knowledge gained by our students are up-to-date and industry-focused.

"With the new skills I have learnt on your garden design course, I now look forward to a new year, and a new career, with confidence and enthusiasm." John McDevitt

How to apply

Entry onto the course is via online booking using shopping basket button below or over the phone by calling 020 7376 3377.

This course is now closed for new enrolments. KLC will be launching a new Online Certificate Residential Garden Design soon.

You can enter any promo code you have just before completing the checkout process. If you opt to pay by KLC Instalment Plan, you must have a UK bank account.

Please contact our Admissions Team on 020 7376 3377 or if you need any further information or advice about the Entry Requirements for this course.

Entry requirements

No previous experience in garden design is required for this course; we simply ask that you have a passion for the subject and a drive to learn!

Applicants should have basic computer skills (Word processing, Spreadsheets, Internet and Email use) and able to confidently use their laptop computer. These skills can be built on using the online learning resources during the course to gain the computer-aided design (CAD) software skills needed to complete the course from an absolute beginner level to confident usage. 

English Language Recommendation

IELTS score of 5.5 ( is advised as a guide

Fees and Funding

Home/EU/International fee


A monthly Instalment Plan is available for this course

Instalment Plan

  • ***28 day free trial***
  • Payment will be taken automatically in 28 days, unless you cancel within your 28 day free trial
  • Please note that there are additional charges for overseas postage
  • Please note that VAT will be charged at the rate in force at the date payments are made which may increase the total fees quoted if the VAT rate changes

 All prices include VAT.

The course fee for the online Diploma course includes all the study materials, project and assignment work, VAT and all distance learning tuition, including the telephone helpline, email advice and assessment of course work.

However, students should make an allowance for the following:-

  • Equipment and drawing materials
  • Books for further reading
  • Magazine subscriptions
  • Postage costs for both sending work in to the college and receiving the work back again (for Diploma courses only)
  • Membership to various affiliations (eg BIID, RHS etc)
  • Visits to exhibitions, museums, trade shows, historic houses and gardens
  • KLC Workshops (optional)
  • KLC One to One Tutorials (optional)

Overseas postage costs for delivery of manuals

The prices quoted above are for students based in the UK (inc Northern Ireland). There are additional postage charges to cover postage and packing of the study manuals for students based overseas. Please add the following additional charge to the overall course fee:-

Other EC countries £50
Non EC countries in Europe £60
Countries outside Europe £100

Please note: If you are paying by instalments, overseas postage costs must be included in your 1st payment now.

Monthly Payment Plan Option

Below is a table showing the breakdown of course fees according to our monthly payment plan option. Please note that this payment facility is only available to students with a UK bank account (inc. Northern Ireland).

  1st payment due in 28 days Further monthly payments Total
Instalments Amount
Diploma Garden Design £150 20 £82.25 £1,795

The total course fee includes a small additional charge to cover administration costs for using this facility.


There are a number of funding options available and it can be complicated establishing the most appropriate route for you, so if you would like any advice then please do not hesitate to contact our Registrars by telephone (020 7376 3377) or email (

Garden Funding Options graphic

Student Finance England
This is a government loan to help pay for university or college tuition fees and to help with living costs. Non Degree holding applicants may be able to borrow £6,165 per year towards the cost of a course – you start repaying once you earn over a certain amount.

To check your eligibility and to start your application, please visit the Student Finance website. Our UK provider number is 10008325.

For students to be eligible for Student Finance, they must be studying a designated course. Courses at KLC are designated each year by the Department for Education. Please visit OfS for more information.

Personal Education Loan
There are many different companies offering personal loans, including some that specialise in private education loans which have a reduced repayment through the duration of your course.

Please note that we are unable to accept the 24+ Advanced Learner Loan for our courses.

Alumni and careers


- Clive Anderson changes his successful career in the city to an exciting new career in garden design.


No other design school has the industry links or careers support that KLC provides. We assist with CV and portfolio preparation, plus organise internships and job placements within a broad and prestigious range of design companies.

Employers consistently return to KLC to recruit knowing that our graduates emerge with the relevant and practical skills for the workplace. As a result, students have gone to a broad range of exciting new careers.