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Course Materials
Course Structure
Advice on Completing Lessons

Course Learning Outcomes

This course has two measured objectives. First, by completing this course you will understand various world perspectives on landscape and garden design, become familiar with several great designers who shaped the history of landscaping around the world, and develop your own answer to the question, “What is a garden?”

Second, you will be able to apply sound horticultural principles in designing residential landscapes that are both functional and beautiful. In addition, while we don’t formally assess your development in the same way, we are confident that by taking this course you will be able to make better decisions when purchasing plants and landscape construction materials and enjoy nature more.

To see the General Education learning outcomes for BYU, click here.

BYU Course Learning Outcomes

  1. Functional and Beautiful Landscapes: Design residential landscapes that are both functional and beautiful.
  2. Decision Making: Make better decisions when purchasing plants and landscape construction materials.
  3. Landscape Planning and Maintenance: Discuss issues and challenges dealing with landscape planning and maintenance.
  4. Nature: Enjoy nature more.
  5. Professional Opportunities: Explain professional opportunities related to landscape design.

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Course Materials


All required reading materials are provided with the course. However, we frequently refer to the following two texts that you may benefit from:

  1. Booth, Norman, and James Hiss. Residential Landscape Architecture: Design Process for the Private Residence, 6th ed. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2012.
  2. Home Planners, Inc. Garden, Landscape and Project Plans. Stony Brook, New York: Susan A. Roth & Company, 2001. (Note: This book is out of print, but frequently available on Amazon.com or other online sources. Within the course, we provide links to these designs.)

In addition, a few drafting supplies will be needed to complete your design projects. These supplies are discussed in lesson 2.


You will need to acquire basic drafting supplies to complete your design projects. They can be found at drafting supply stores. A detailed list is provided in lesson 2. Also, for some assignments, you will need to be able to create (scan, photograph, etc.) clear, high-resolution images (100 ppi or higher) of your work.

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Course Structure


This course is divided into 17 lessons aimed at helping you understand landscape design. To reinforce important concepts, we have included a number of videos throughout the lessons. These videos provide instruction on the technical aspects of completing a design, highlight landscapes that provide insights into design principles, and introduce you to gardens around the world. Finally, you will apply the knowledge and skills gained in these lessons by completing a landscape design of your own.

How much you get out of this course will depend largely on how well you can design landscapes that look good in the real world as well as on paper. So in addition to lessons that focus on the step by step process of completing a residential landscape design, other lessons have been included to help you understand critical subjects in creating wonderful landscapes. For example, in lesson 2 you will learn to use design graphics—the language of landscape design—to draft ideas so they can be communicated to others. You will be amazed at how quickly you learn to draft symbols (trees, shrubs, boulders, etc.) that look really spectacular!

In lesson 5, you will get a glimpse of what it takes to become a master of landscape design by considering the remarkable accomplishments of great designers during the past three centuries. In lesson 6, you will take a virtual tour of fabulous gardens from around the word. Whether or not you become world famous, you will get some great inspiration for your own landscape masterpiece.

Lessons 12–15 are packed with one of our favorite subjects: Horticulture. Plants such as trees, shrubs, and flowers are essential to any landscape, and in these lessons you will learn how to choose the perfect plants for your yard. Then, because even the best design fails if the plants die, you will review several principles of horticulture and ecology that you can use to help ensure that your landscape dreams become a reality.

The course concludes with the completion of your final design work. This project is an accomplishment that you will feel justifiably proud of, even if design is a new experience for you.

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Advice on Completing Lessons

How much time should you expect to spend on each lesson? Lessons vary in length considerably, depending on subject matter and whether there is a writing or design assignment associated with the lesson. Because each landscape is so different and the background of students is so varied, I can’t tell you what the average time to complete a lesson is. In general, however, lessons that require design work or writing will require more time than those that do not.

Your design work will be submitted for grading periodically throughout the course. We recognize there is always a temptation to move on the next lesson before you complete an assigned step in the design process, and we strongly discourage this approach. The best way to internalize new information is to apply what you have recently learned—in short, to do! Don’t just say you will get to it later. Based on the experiences of hundreds of students in our design classes, we can predict that you will do better on quizzes and exams if you keep up on the design assignments.

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Review Questions

How will you know how well you’re doing in the course? As you probably expect, there will be several opportunities for assessing your progress. At the conclusion of each lesson (except lesson 6), you will find a set of review questions that will help you evaluate your understanding of the important concepts. These questions are for your own use and will not count as part of your grade.

When doing the review questions, you should first try to answer the questions without using the course material. After you have answered all the questions, however, you should go back and review your answers using the course material to make certain your answers are accurate. Although you will be tempted not to do this the first time through, try to avoid taking the easy route. You will see similar questions on the exams, but you will not have access to course materials when you take the two exams. We suggest you take advantage of this risk-free practice.


There are 13 quizzes, consisting of several multiple-choice and/or matching questions, which will count as part of your final grade. You should resist the temptation to hurry through the lessons that do not include graded assignments since material from all of the preceding lessons will be covered on the two exams. Plus, the information in each lesson builds upon itself to give you a rich understanding of what goes in to designing a landscape. You might miss something important if you hurry through.


You will write and submit a two-page essay answering the question, “What is a garden?” This assignment will count as part of your final grade and will be submitted online through your course. Instructions and submission details are provided in lesson 6.

Assignment and Portfolios

You will complete and submit one assignment and three portfolios.

Directions and details on how to complete and submit each of these appear throughout the course, as appropriate. All of these assignments are submitted online. Thus, you will need to be able to create (scan, photograph, etc.) clear, high-resolution images (300 ppi) of your work.You may use your phone (if the image quality is good enough), a camera, or go to a facility that has a large-bed scanner. Many libraries have large scanners available for patron use (sometimes for free). There are also a number of companies that offer scanning services for a fee.

NOTE: The important thing to keep in mind is that the person grading your submission must be able to see all of the details clearly and easily. A lower grade will result from a low quality image; it would be unfortunate for you to lose points simply because we couldn't adequately see your work!

HINT: The maximum file size that can be uploaded to your course is 20 MB. If your file is larger than that, you may need to optimize your image for web.

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Each of the two exams contain multiple-choice and short-answer questions. The final design project portfolio takes the place of a final exam.

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Your grade for the course will be determined based on your scores for all of the assessments, except the review questions. The grade breakdown and grade scale are detailed below.

Assessments Points Percentage
Quizzes 100 10%
Symbols, Lettering, and Redraft Assignment 100 10%
“What Is a Garden?” Essay 100 10%
Research Phase Portfolio 100 10%
Preliminary Design Portfolio 150 15%
Exam 1 125 12.5%
Exam 2 125 12.5%
Final Design Project Portfolio 200 20%
Total 1000 100%


Grading Scale
A 94–100
A− 90–93
B+ 87–89
B 84–86
B− 80–83
C+ 77–79
C 74–76
C− 70–73
D+ 67–69
D 64–66
D− 60–63
E (fail) 59.9 and below

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Course Policies

These policies are specific to this course. For additional information about general policies, please refer to Independent Study Course Policies page.


There are 13 computer-graded quizzes, 1 essay, and 4 instructor-graded portfolios.

You may resubmit each assignment or quiz once for a fee, except for the Final Design Project Portfolio.

Resubmit an assignment for a fee here.


There are 2 proctored, instructor-graded exams. Both exams have multiple-choice and short-answer questions, and are closed book and closed notes. There is a 3-hour time limit, but most students complete the exams well before 3 hours. You may retake each exam once for a fee.

Note: Once you submit the Final Design Project Portfolio, you may not retake the exams or any other assignments.

Retake an exam for a fee here.

Portfolio Submission Instructions

 You will submit a high-resolution image of each component of the portfolio as explained in the instructions. Specific instructions for submitting your portfolios are with each assignment.

Please be aware that you may submit the Final Design Project Portfolio only once, so plan accordingly!

Getting Help

If you have questions or concerns about any of your lessons or exams, please contact your instructor through Independent Study

You may also e-mail us at indstudy@byu.edu. Please include "PWS 103" as part of the subject line, and clearly explain your question in the body of the e-mail.

For a list of free tutors available to BYU Independent Study students, see the Free Tutoring Services website.

Note: The Harold B. Lee Library website provides a number of online resources. In addition, librarians are available via phone, chat, and email to answer questions about library-related issues.

Inappropriate Use of Course Content

All course materials (i.e., outlines, handouts, syllabus, exams, quizzes, media, lecture content, audio and video recordings, and so forth) are proprietary. Students are prohibited from posting or selling any such course materials without the express written permission of BYU Independent Study. To do so is a violation of the Brigham Young University Honor Code.

Copyright © 2016 Brigham Young University. All rights reserved.

Published by the
Department of Independent Study
Division of Continuing Education
Brigham Young University
120 MORC
Provo, Utah 84602-1514

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