Online garden design courses

Real LIfe Garden SolutionsOctober 29, 2011

I'm looking into several online garden/landscape design courses, and wondering if anyone has any experience with such things. There's My Garden School ( [how do I hyperlink here??], ACS Distance Education (, Limperts Academy of Design (, Stratford Career Institute (, and probably lots of others I haven't found in my searches.


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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

I've taken a couple of the courses in the Creating Landscapes program at the University of Guelph. It's quite a fun thing to do, but they're a lot of work too. I was just taking the courses for interest and to keep from being bored in the winter. I don't intend to actually complete the certificate. I won't be taking one this winter though because the only ones available either don't interest me or I've already taken them. The on-line format for the class discussion part is very similar to posting on a forum like this. Students who are familiar with on-line forums were very comfortable with it but there were a number of students who were not comfortable with that format.

Here is a link that might be useful: U of Guelph Horticulture certificates

    Bookmark   October 29, 2011 at 8:00PM
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Real LIfe Garden Solutions

Thanks Woodyoak. When you say "a lot of work", how much is "a lot"? I'm working full time, but will have "a lot" of free time this fall and winter, so hoping I can make good use of that time. Looked at the Guelph program: for some reason I rejected it the last time I investigated--quite a while ago now-- but don't remember why. I looks like the very thing I need... It may have been the length of the program that intimidated me.

My motivation for this: I'll be retiring in two years, and would like to develop a garden design business after that.



    Bookmark   October 30, 2011 at 1:55PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Most of the students were taking the courses for the reason you're interested - i.e. with the intention of having - or working in - a design business. Probably more than half the students were already working in the horticultural industry and wanting to upgrade skills to work at better jobs. The students ranged in age from quite young to near retirement from another career. There were students from all across Canada as well as from the US. The classes were an interesting mix. The LD1 course I took was taught by a Landscape Architect from Vancouver Island. The CAD course I took last winter was taught by someone for Humber College here in Ontario.

The LD1 workload was less than the CAD course, especially in the first half or so. It wouldn't be too difficult to manage while working as long as you do a bit in the evenings and have a good chunk of time available on the weekends, especially for the final assignment.

The CAD course was a LOT of work! I wouldn't have wanted to do that one back in the days when I was working full-time! But almost everyone taking the course was working and managed to do it...:-)

Those are the only courses I've taken so I don't know what the workload is like for some of the other courses.

If I was planning to take courses for business reasons, I'd certainly choose Guelph, a university with a good reputation, over the others you listed.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2011 at 2:47PM
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Real LIfe Garden Solutions

Great information. Think I'll contact Guelph for more :-).


    Bookmark   October 30, 2011 at 3:01PM
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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

Like any investment , be it education a business or a major consumption of time and money it makes good sense to do some homework.

If I was going back to school for a second career I would like to know how the industry is doing and what the outlook for work would be . I'd like to know who my competition is going to be so that I can be prepared and I'd like to know that if I should become a sole proprietor what the potential of my social-economic area can handle.

I live in an affluent area of the country and prior to 2008 there was a great movement of people entering the landscape design field and my area was able to handle the influx of 'talent' and 'not so much talent'.
Many , if not most of the people entering the land design field were women seeking their second or third career change.
It's hard to say what makes someone 'successful' in their work, but most of these new designers were doing some form of garden design to a various degree of design .

Then the Great Recession hit and a huge % of these people are no longer working in the landscape design field, yet they have a few years of experience , a few jobs under their belt and some certificates or degrees .

Many of these landscape designers didn't want to leave the field and have taken jobs at nurseries or with garden maintenance companies. Some have gone back to school for their masters or BA in landscape architecture.

I'm hedging my bets that as soon as there appears to be a steady up tick in economy there is going to be a great deal of experienced + educated talent hitting the dirt running.
That is going to be your competition.
Be prepared.
Landscape design has always been a romanticized profession.
I would suggest interviewing a few successful designers who have been in the field for a good twenty some odd years to get a real taste of the profession.
See what it took and is taking for them to weather this depressive job market and what they expect for the profession in the future in order to continue to stay on top of their game and gainfully employed.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2011 at 3:32PM
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Real LIfe Garden Solutions

Thanks Deviant for the very thoughtful reply. I admit I've done very little research in the industry. I took the MG course last winter, and several of my "table-mates" were in, or entering the industry, most with their own businesses. One had done most of the on-campus U of Guelph program, three others had done the (very expensive) UBC 6 month program, with varying opinions on its value to them, all had another income-erarner in the family. One thing that I've considered is to work for an already established company before trying to start my own.

Meanwhile, I will have a pension, of sorts, and will probably also continue to work there casually even after "retirement". So I'm already assuming that I wouldn't be able to sustain my lifestyle in the manner to which I've become accustomed on "new business" only.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2011 at 6:14PM
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