How to Become a Garden Designer


How to Become a Garden Designer

How to Become a Garden Designer

Do you have a passion for plants and love the outdoors? If so, becoming a garden designer might just be the perfect path for you! Garden designers use plants and flowers to transform ordinary gardens into beautiful, harmonious retreats. Before you start your journey as a garden designer, here is everything you need to know to help you through the process.

What is a Garden Designer?

Imagine turning a regular backyard, park, or even a small balcony into a magical area where people can relax, play, or simply enjoy nature’s beauty. A garden designer is a professional who plans and arranges everything in a garden, from the plants and flowers to the pathways and seating areas, to give outdoor landscapes an aesthetically appealing appearance. Garden designers understand soil type and climate and work with individuals, families, communities, schools, and office complexes to develop a landscape design that meets their preferences.

Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming a Garden Designer

Becoming a landscaping designer takes only five steps. Follow these steps to walk you through the process of becoming a landscape designer.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

Formal education is not a strict requirement to become a garden designer. However, having a degree gives you a solid foundation in the design principles and horticultural knowledge needed to excel as a garden designer. Most people consider the stress of writing an assignment and forego this option for a self-learning route. Luckily, many writing help websites can write a paper for you online, so you won’t bother about your assignments but can focus on developing your garden design foundations.

If the cost of in-person university education appears to be higher than your budget, enroll in online courses that focus on garden design. Regardless, most colleges and universities offer the following programs to help you develop a well-rounded knowledge of plants and design:

  • Landscape architecture
  • Landscape contracting business
  • Garden ecology and sustainability
  • Site analysis and planning
  • Landscape management

Step 2: Develop Your Design Skills Through Internship

To become a successful garden designer, you will need to learn the basics of design principles, from color theory to balance, contrast, rhythm, and textures. Fortunately, you don’t need to be an art expert to achieve this. Just having a grasp of these principles will help you create visually appealing and functional outdoor spaces. But, there’s a catch: simple classroom theoretical work may not give you the practical knowledge you need to harness these skills.

Most people, even nature lovers, may not have a landscaping internship on their holiday summer bucket list, but to become a skilled garden designer, practical experience through an internship is essential. It helps you gain real-world experience as a garden designer, and you have the opportunity to work alongside experienced professionals that can provide guidance, offer tips, and share their practical wisdom in the field.

Contact your school’s career services department to learn about available internships, or look for organizations that specialize in outdoor design and plant-related work. Many of these places offer paid internships to students in the summer.

Step 3: Find Your Unique Style

Just like artists have their own distinct approaches and techniques, garden designers should also develop their individual styles to set them apart from the competition. Why is this important? Clients want designers willing to offer something different and fresh. Plus, they are more likely to hire you if your style aligns with their preferences and needs.benefits of green roofs

If you are considering the self-employed route, this step is critical because it helps make your portfolio unique. Your unique style becomes part of your branding, and you will find it easier to market yourself when you have a clear design identity.

To discover your style, look at various garden designs, art, and architecture to identify elements that resonate with you. Also, try different design techniques, color palettes, and plant combinations. Experimentation helps you find what feels most authentic. Don’t forget to ask for feedback from your mentors, peers, and clients. They can provide insights into what makes your work unique and appealing.

Step 4: Get a Job

If you are not considering the self-employment route but want to become a garden designer, consider getting a job after your internship and bagging (no pun intended) your degree. Look for landscaping companies, nurseries, garden centers, or even parks and recreation departments that are hiring. Check local job boards, company websites, and online platforms like LinkedIn to research job opportunities as a garden designer.

Recent graduates can join large landscaping firms as entry-level landscape designers, landscape architects, design assistants, project coordinators, or plant specialists. You may even work with small business property owners to create plans for their residential gardens and business spaces or provide design consulting services to help companies plan their outdoor spaces.

Just keep in mind that most employers may consider your design and communication skills, computer and plant knowledge, project management skills, and experience before they engage in your services. With that in mind, narrow down your job options and apply. Besides that, you can also pursue a career as a:

  • Landscape assessor – Investigate the soil composition and drainage of the space for landscaping projects
  • Nursery grower – Grow plants for gardens and outdoor spaces and sometimes help move and replant them
  • Landscape scientist – Use knowledge from science and nature to solve problems in outdoor spaces
  • Florist – Sell plants and sometimes provide design and arranging services

Step 5: Get Certification as a Garden Designer

Again, as with a Bachelor’s degree, obtaining a certificate is not absolutely necessary to become a successful garden designer, but it can significantly enhance your career prospects and reputation. Being certified demonstrates that you have the expert skills and knowledge to handle any garden design project, whether small or large-scale. With a certificate, you not only reassure clients that you are a qualified professional, and committed to your craft, but you also gain a competitive edge over others who may not have formal recognition of their skills.

A reputable organization like the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) offers garden design certifications. However, you have completed at least two years of college in landscape design, horticulture, or something similar, 4-year experience working as a landscape designer, and a portfolio showing your design ability for at least three completed projects.

Final Thoughts

Everyone has to choose their career path at some point, but most career paths may not require much time and effort as a graphic designer. When it comes to becoming a landscape designer, you not only have to nurture your passion for nature, but you also have to develop it into creative expertise that provides endless career prospects in today’s competitive world.

Passion alone may not be enough to help you successfully reach your garden designer goals, but add a mix of formal education, internship, style, and certificate, and you can obtain employment with a large firm or become a successful self-employed garden designer in no time.


Certification. (n.d.). APLD.

Cording-Booth, E. (2023, April 25). What it’s really like to be a garden designer and how to get there. House & Garden.

Mueller, L. (2022). Be a landscape designer, beautify the world one yard at a time. Skillshare Blog.

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