Landscape Design Education: Courses and Classes Overview

Essential Information

While some schools offer landscape design programs at the associate's and bachelor's degree levels, more are offered as part of a graduate degree or certificate program. Curricula in landscape design programs typically include:

  • Procuring knowledge of various plant species and their required care
  • Testing soil samples for optimal plant installment
  • Understanding local and seasonal climate and plant variance
  • Gaining thorough working knowledge of design and drafting programs
  • Acquiring basic construction skills

List of Landscape Design Classes

Theory and Principles of Landscape Design

Students new to the field of landscape design benefit from an introductory course that provides them with the basic technical and artistic aspects of designing and installing plans for outdoor spaces. Often a landscape design theory and principles course covers the theory, practices and history of the profession. Plant selection, land uses and maintenance are also discussed. A basic landscape design course is typically offered during the first semester of an associate's or bachelor's degree landscape design program; however, graduate-level programs might offer a course that takes a wide look at the landscape design field.


A course in horticulture arms landscape design students with knowledge of plants and suitable environments. Landscape designers determine which plants thrive in a particular location based on soil quality, moisture levels, exposure to sunlight and climate. A horticulture class teaches students about plant biology, plant classification, plant growth and how plants might be used to create appealing landscapes for many uses. Horticulture is typically taught to landscape design students early in their studies, and frequently schools offer courses with a narrower focus like ornamental horticulture, for example.

Drafting and Drawing

Landscape designers use programs like AutoCAD to create drawings of their plans. A drafting class teaches landscape design students how to use these programs to plot an area, using scale and placement to determine where design elements like plants, structures and pathways will be installed in the physical space. Landscape design programs require students at all levels to take drafting, and some programs offer higher-level courses in AutoCAD, drawing and drafting.

Site Analysis

Students in a site analysis class learn how to evaluate existing conditions at a landscape design project site. Conditions such as slope, microclimate, soil quality and surrounding environment are discussed, and students learn to record the state and layout of the land. These elements are used in the creation of plans and determine what must be done to achieve the finished design. Bachelor's and master's degree programs in landscape design often offer site analysis as part of a series of studio courses. Students enrolled in associate's degree landscape design programs often learn about site analysis in their design concentration.


This course instructs landscape design students in the qualities of various types of soils and which plants thrive in them. Students learn about the mineral makeup and acidity level of soils. Also, a soil class covers how soils relate to engineering and structural support. Typically taken midway through a landscape design program, a course covering soils is generally required for students whose studies emphasize horticulture. Many associate's degree and bachelor's degree programs require a soils course, while some do not.

Construction Materials and Methods

Landscape design students in a construction materials and methods course learn about building structures, such as patios and arbors, through hands-on and in-class projects. Construction materials discussed might include wood, concrete, metal and other traditional or new materials available. Students also learn about the techniques and machines used in landscape design construction. This is usually a required class and is generally taken later in the program for students at all levels of study.

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