Introduction to Garden Design

A well-designed garden
  • Next course: Late winter-spring 2015.
  • Cost: $600.
  • Enrollment limited to 12 students.
  • To be notified of next course, fill out this form.
  • Questions about the course? Email me14@cornell.edu.

About the course

View full syllabus.

This 6-week online course (plus the Introduction Days) provides an opportunity for you to design your own garden. You will be studying and experimenting with the basic design procedures, learning about proper plant selection, and you will write and reflect on the process as you learn. The instructor will take an active role in this creative endeavor by providing feedback on your assignments and journal entries. You will also have the opportunity to learn from one another through an open forum in which you can share your ideas with others.

The purpose of this course is to understand the steps necessary to create a healthy & attractive garden, and to engage in self-expression through this process. Upon completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Understand garden site analysis and apply the concepts to your personal space.
  • Gain some proficiency in basic garden design principals.
  • Articulate a personal aesthetic -- what appeals to you, and what you enjoy.
  • Layout a rough site plan overview of your garden design.

This course is designed to encourage your discovery of basic garden design techniques. It is a garden design course for the beginner. We teach an approach to gardening that is based on the principle of right plant, right place. In other words, we will consider the needs of the plant in addition to the needs of the gardener.

Course schedule

  • Introduction Week: Welcome & Introductions
  • Week 1: Site Assessment Part 1
  • Week 2: Site Assessment Part 2 / Basic Design Principles: Personal Style, Garden Unity, and Maintenance
  • Week 3: Basic Design Principles: Scale & Proportion, Balance & Symmetry, Repetition, Movement
  • Week 4: Basic Design Principles: Color, Form & Texture
  • Week 5: Designing Your Garden: Choosing & Buying Plants
  • Week 6: Designing Your Garden: Final Project and Buying Plants