Course Name: 

Ecological Landscape Design, Gaia College,  Royal Roads University

Course Hours: 56                    Credit Value: 4

Delivery Format:

Applicable Programs:

Diploma in Organic Land Care, Gaia College

Prerequisites: 1 course:

Landscape Design Basics with SketchUp Pro or equivalent is a prerequisite for the online Ecological Landscape Design course

Co-requisites: none

Contribution to Program: Core

Approval Date:  August 2020


This very comprehensive course begins with an overview of organic horticulture principles and practices, as well as, historical garden design perspectives, including an examination of the role of art, statuary, wildlife, water, and native ecosystems.

The principles of landscape design and how the various elements are used in softscaping and hardscaping will be examined in detail on how to achieve particular esthetics and function. Design terminology and drafting skills will be applied when following the steps of the design process.

Through case studies and project work, the topics of site analysis, hardscape construction and grading, estimating and landscape supplies, drainage and water solutions, site remediation and special needs will be covered. Throughout, presentation skills will be emphasized.

This course partially satisfies the Gaia College Diploma in Organic Land Care. Earn generous continuing education credits for landscape professionals to maintain industry certifications (ISA, CNLA, BCSLA, NALP, MGOI, IPM, NOFA, SOUL).


Course Learning Requirements

Knowledge and Skills

When you have earned credit for this course you will have demonstrated an ability to: 

  1. View landscape styles within their historical context

1.1 Understand the evolution of landscape design in various cultures

1.2 Use landscape features in their correct cultural context

1.3  Be aware of global and local trends in landscape design

  1. Create ecologically sound landscape designs that also meet the needs of the clients

2.1 Develop respect for the complexity of designing and constructing healthy functioning ecosystems in our everyday landscapes

2.2 Work with clients to create functional, ecological
     and aesthetic design objectives

2.3 Seek feedback from clients at critical stages in the design process

2.4 Produce written and graphic instructions for the construction and long term maintenance of the designed landscape

2.5 Effectively deal with soil, water and air pollution

2.6 Combine native and non-native plants effectively to create functioning ecosystems

  1. Follow a structured design process to integrate knowledge from many different faculties

3.1 Accurately measure and analyze the site
3.2 Use the appropriate graphic presentations to communicate specific ideas and instructions

3.3 Use symbols, lettering and colour to effectively communicate design ideas  

3.4 Integrate functional and ecological design goals into an aesthetically pleasing and coherent landscape

  1. Employ industry standards in the design and specifications for hardscape elements

4.1 Design appropriately sized and shaped spaces for the purpose

4.2 Design surface grades for optimal ergonomic comfort

4.3 Direct the flow of water in the landscape to the greatest ecological benefit, while avoiding damage to structures      

  1. Create gardens for clients with special needs

5.1 Create safe, ecologically sound and beautiful gardens for clients with various health issues, children and pets

  1. Produce design estimates and contracts
  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the business of landscape design
  2. Estimate your design fee
  3. Draft an effective design contract

Learning Resources

Recommended Textbook (for using hand-drawn graphics only):
Reid, Grant W.,
Landscape Graphics, 2002 Edition, Whitney Library of Design, New York.
Recommended Textbook:  
Rainer, Thomas and West, Claudia, Planting in a Post-wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes, 2015 Edition, Timber Press. 

Teaching/Learning Methods - During this course you are likely to experience:

Learning Activities and Assessment  - Samples of learning activities include:

Evaluation/Earning Credit

A passing grade in this course requires a total of 100% for all tests (multiple attempts are encouraged) and a minimum of 75% for each of the assignments and a minimum of 75% for the discussion participation.  A certificate of completion will be awarded when the minimum passing grade or higher has been achieved. Below passing grade constitutes a failing grade (F).