The Professional Garden Design Diploma
from Garden Design School

Recognising the need for a garden design school that would successfully combine all the creative design skills with the essential, practical knowledge of this multi-faceted and multi-disciplinary subject, Robin Templar Williams co-founded Garden Design School in 2001.

The Garden Design School Diploma is an inspiring and intensive course. Students who take this course excel through mutual commitment to challenging goals, and through the depth of practical experience of the tutors. The vast majority of students who want to practice professionally go on to do so successfully, becoming inspired, confident garden designers, owning or working in profitable, professional landscape and garden design companies

Accessible Garden Design Course Structure

The Garden Design School Diploma is a part time intensive garden design course, comprising one academic year over a 38 week period with 40 attendance days in total.

Independent study and projects are also an essential element of this garden design course and you should expect to dedicate an additional 24-30 hours per week to your studies outside the set classroom times.

Our class numbers are kept intentionally small, allowing us to optimise one-to-one teaching and feedback. Working in this close knit, face-to-face environment also encourages mutual respect and support between students. We have a maximum of 12 places. Days start at 9.30am and finish at 4.30pm.

Expert Tuition

The majority of the garden design diploma course is taught by Robin ensuring his unique design philosophy and wealth of experience is passed on directly to the students in a friendly and collegiate learning environment. Running his own successful design practice for over 30 years Robin guarantees that students have access to the very latest thinking, trends, and techniques and best practice in garden and landscape design.  This participative teaching method, supported by the guest lecturers, maintains course quality and ensures that his high exacting standards are passed on to students.

Garden Design Course Content

Our Diploma course provides structured and up-to-date content, specifically developed to equip students for a successful career in garden design and includes the following subject matter:

Design Principles

Principles of spatial design; understanding, controlling and manipulating 3 dimensional space. Learning to apply these principles and building blocks are key to the full realisation of successful gardens and landscapes

Graphics and Presentation

Drawing and drafting skills, Sketchup and 3D illustration, application of colour and rendering, plan and design presentation.

Hard Landscape Design

Practical surveying with levels; site analysis; elevations and sections; hard landscape materials; detailing hard landscape construction methods and techniques (horizontal surfaces, walls, garden structures etc), setting out, water in the garden, lighting, irrigation and drainage.

Planting Design

Basic botany; soil science; classification and identification; planting design; horticultural requirements; establishment; site specific planting; planting plans and schedules.

Professional Practice

Running the office; documentation and systems; health and safety; CDM 2015; planning implications; client/designer relationships; contractor/designer relationships; specifications and contracts; project costings; getting started as a freelance designer; advertising and promotion, website design.

Inspiring, Hands-on and Practical Project Work

Four major projects are undertaken by students during this garden design course plus additional studio based design projects.

The projects build in complexity to the final project where students will produce full design with drawings and detailed documentation.

In addition, 2 portfolios are produced by each student and compiled throughout the year, one devoted to plants (soft landscaping) the other to hard landscaping, developing the student's knowledge of both subjects.

Regular Assessment and Feedback

Students are assessed at regular intervals but examinations are not part of our Diploma course. All assignments are of a practical nature and closely resemble the types of projects a professional garden designer might encounter. Because the course is vocational not academic, you will not be asked to write essays.

Students at the Garden Design School receive timely, relevant feedback before moving forward to the next stage.
Robin Templar Williams will give face-to-face, one-to-one feedback to each and every student on each of their four major projects and studio design sessions.

Term Structure

The course, lasting 38 weeks, is divided into three academic terms which follow Bristol Term Dates. School days (the time you attend lectures/studio sessions) are held on Thursdays and take place between 9.30am and 4.30pm. There is a 45 minute break at lunchtime, and two shorter (15 minute) breaks during the morning and afternoon.

For 2 of the 38 weeks, attendance is for 2 days on a Thursday and Friday, giving a total of 40 attendance days. 

Please click here for our term dates.

Course Location

University of Bristol Botanic Garden, Bristol. 

Please click here for more information on course locations and directions

Further Information

We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions and their answers.  Please click here to view.
If you would prefer to talk directly with a member of the team, please do get in touch with the office by phoning;
+44 (0) 1380 728788 or emailing