Skip to content

How to create your own landscape design plan

Landscape Layout

A DIY Landscape Design Online Course

Watch for an overview:

DIY Landscape Design Online Course by Eve Hanlin of Garden Project Academy

DIY Landscape Design Online Course

Yes, you can be your own landscape designer! My name’s Eve, I’m a horticulturist and a landscape designer, and I'm excited to announce Design-Your-Own Landscape Layout, a new online course for do-it-yourselfers who want to create their own landscape design, but just need a little extra guidance.

This course is like having a landscape designer by your side, to guide you through the design process, so you can create your own, DIY landscape design.

Step by step, learn professional design strategies, and create a practical, hand-drawn "layout plan" (a landscape design plan that shows the layout of the finished design). 

A landscape design layout plan will make it easier to bring your dream landscape to life.

A Laptop Featuring Module 3 of Design Your Own Landscape Layout, a Landscape Design Online Course

What's in the course?

Design-Your-Own Landscape Layout is an online landscape design course for do-it-yourselfers that guides you step-by-step through the design process.

You will learn:

How to create a hand-drawn "layout plan" (a landscape design plan that shows the layout of your finished design vision)
How to survey your site for characteristics that will influence your design (saving you time and money by playing to the strengths of the space)
How to easily collect ideas and inspiration, realistically test ideas, and apply professional design strategies to bring inspiration to life in your own space
How to research low-maintenance plant possibilities, and keep your planting plan organized for efficient plant shopping and installation

Who's a good fit for this course?

Perhaps you've been considering hiring a landscape designer, but feel like you could do it yourself... If you just had a little more guidance?

Do you want to be empowered to bring the landscape of your dreams to life, on your own terms?


Want to learn about plants and design
Be prepared to spend time creating your own design (a few hours per week for about 5 or 6 weeks)
Have access to a printer/copier (library or print shop works just fine), some office supplies, and a tape measure (other gadgets are optional)


Any fancy tech or software skills
To be good at drawing, or art
A big budget
Any gardening experience (though if you have some, even better!)

You'll create a hand-drawn "layout" plan that will act as your installation guide

In this course, you will learn how to create a "layout plan" (a top down drawing of what goes where… your intentions and goals for the space)

Hiring help with installation? Hand your plan to a landscape contractor and they'll easily understand your vision.

Installing yourself? Having clear goals on paper will make it easier to break your project down into steps, and bring your dream landscape to life.

Careful planning is an opportunity to test your ideas for practicality (After all, it's much easier to test ideas on paper than after they're installed).
You can break your project down into phases for less stressful installation.
You can experiment with ideas that match your budget, and create a system for adding up costs, to avoid surprises.
A good plan will save you time, energy, and money, and help you accomplish your goals sooner.

Even if they didn't realize it, my landscape design clients were always the ones that made their designs...

Some landscape designers create design plans, and hand them off. But I think the best landscape designer are more like teachers.

Even if they didn't realize it, my landscape design clients were always the ones that came up with the best design for them... All I did was ask the right questions, suggest possibilities, and provide expertise, and put it all together on paper.

After working with me, they were empowered to make changes to their design as needed, and substitute plants. They learned landscape design!

Now, I'm excited to offer the same landscape design guidance in the form of an online course: to guide do-it-yourselfers like you through the landscape design process. 

This course isn't for everyone. I'm not promising it's the fastest and easiest way to get a design done. It will take some time: watching videos, brainstorming, learning about plants, and drawing ideas onto paper.

But if you are someone who wants to be more hands on, learn new things about plants and design, and be empowered to design your yard yourself, then this course is a good fit for you. 

No one has a better understanding of your design needs, goals, and dreams than you. And creating your own design is incredibly rewarding.

An alternative for the do-it-yourselfer...

Did you know?
According to Home Advisor, the average cost for a landscape design in the USA is $4,563?

Why is a landscape design so expensive?

Because it takes a lot of time! And before they can even start designing, a landscape designer must spend hours learning your preferences, ideas, and goals, and getting to know the design site. 

But if you design your own landscape, you already know what you want. You may need some help coming up with new ideas, but you'll know what you like when you see it. And more than likely, you already know your design site pretty well (especially if it's your own yard).

The design process is time well spent, particularly if learning about plant possibilities, brainstorming ideas, and drawing out your own plan sounds like fun.

Even if you don't have any gardening experience, don't consider yourself an artist, and don't have any fancy software skills.... I can guide you through the process of creating your own landscape design layout plan.

Eve is so knowledgeable - she makes this experience so fun with her suggestions and enthusiasm. I would recommend this course and Eve's YouTube videos to anyone interested in gardening, no matter if you are a beginner or an expert!

Mary G.

"I had no idea what could be done with it, other than just mowing the grass...
It's really easy... You can put into practice what you're learning, and get her help and feedback as you take the course. So I would highly recommend it!"

Gail B.

"My design confidence has exploded, and I have tapped into my own creativity and found my own style"

Naomi D.


What is something you are proud of, as a result of taking this course?

"I am proud the creativity I unlocked as I worked through all of the pragmatic considerations that were blocking me from planning something special that I love."

Why, ultimately, did you decide to buy this course?

"I was overwhelmed with the size and scope of my project, and I wanted something that could be broken into small pieces. I also watched Eve's YouTube videos and had a good idea of her design philosophy."

Before taking this course, did you have any concerns or worries? AND how did it turn out?

"Thats all I did was: worry, and after just buying a fixer-upper, the budget for the yard was small. As a result of the course, I have stopped myself from making costly mistakes, made a practical budget, and broken the projects into smaller chunks. I would have never been able to do that if I had hired someone. I would not have gotten past a drawn landscape map. Now, when I go to a plant nursery or garden center, I only get the things I need for that phase of the project. It has also influenced me to consider items that were too far out of my budget at this moment but will be feasible in the future, and I will not have to redesign the whole space because I have already planned for them."

How would you describe yourself now, compared to before you took this course?

"I am excited about the future of my property instead of just wanting to get something that will function. I know I have all of the knowledge I need to deal with issues that will come up as I complete the work and transform my space. I always asked others what they would do in my space, and now I redesign other people's yards (in my head, of course, lol) as I walk through them. My design confidence has exploded, and I have tapped into my own creativity and found my own style."

Anything else you'd like to share?

"This is the most enjoyable learning journey I have ever been on."

-Naomi D.

Schedule & Outline: Here's what to expect...


Collect inspiration, prioritize your goals, and take some time to learn about your design area to best play to its strengths.

Videos Inside Module 1:

   (4 min) Intro to Module One
   (22 min) Collect Inspiration
   (10 min) Define Your Needs
   (11 min) Identify Rooms and Views
   (10 min) Site Survey
   (2 min) Final Tips


Head outside to take some measurements and make a "base map" (a map of your design area, drawn to scale). You'll use this map throughout the whole course!

Videos Inside Module 2:

   (9 min) Intro to Module Two
   (24 min) Base Map Basics
   (16 min) (Optional) Mapping Slopes
   (19 min) Strategy 1, Part 1
   (20 min) Strategy 1, Part 2
   (7 min) Strategy 2
   (12 min) (Optional) Tips for Blueprint Sized Maps
   (10 min) Tips for Measuring and Drawing
   (8 min) Finalizing Your Base Map
   (6 min) (Optional) Additional Methods
   (4 min) Prioritizing Needs


Learn how to break your inspiration down into pieces that you can put together, as you draw a concept plan.

Videos Inside Module 3:

   (7 min) Intro to Module 3
   (10 min) Design Requirements for Common Elements
   (15 min) (Optional) Examples: How to Fill Out the Spreadsheet
   (5 min) Your First Bubble Map
   (17 min) Microclimate Mapping
   (4 min) Site Survey Design Base Map Exercise
   (9 min) (Optional) Privacy Design Strategy and Base Map Exercise
   (5 min) Back to Bubble Mapping: Site Survey and Microclimate
   (6 min) (Optional)Bubble Mapping Privacy
   (7 min) Breaking Down Inspiring Pictures
   (21 min) (Optional) Examples: Learning from Inspiring Pictures
   (19 min) (Optional) Design Layout Concepts
   (23 min) (Optional) Landscape Design Styles
   (9 min) (Optional) Mapping Rooms, Views, and Dead Zones
   (1 min) Update Your Bubble Map
   (14 min) Concept Planning
   (4 min) (Optional) The Concept Planning Challenge


Use your base map and your research to start designing, using activities and "design exercises" that will make the creative process easier.

Videos Inside Module 4:
   (6 min) Intro to Module 4
   (8 min) Use Mapping
   (14 min) Low Maintenance Landscaping
   (22 min) Soil Covering and Edge Mapping
   (21 min) The Magic of Organic Waste in Landscape Design
   (8 min) Irrigation Zone Mapping
   (9 min) Estimating Basic Costs
   (14 min) Installation Phase Planning
   (3 min) Stage it out!
   (5 min) Drawing Additional Details


Research plant possibilities, create a planting plan, put all the pieces together, and finalize your plan.

Videos Inside Module 5:
   (3 min) Intro to Module 5
   (25 min) Your Design Palette, Part 1: Colors, Textures, and Cohesion
   (17 min) Your Design Palette Part 2: Making a Materials Plan
   (5 min) Naming Your Planting Zones
   (3 min) Plant Design Brainstorm
   (6 min) Intro to Structural Plantings
   (14 min) Designing Structural Plantings
   (12 min) Right Plant, Right Place
   (15 min) Filler Plantings & Year Round Interest
   (19 min) Plant Research
   (16 min) Drawing Your Landscape Design Layout Plan
   (8 min) Resources and Final Steps

What is it like to take this course?

How much time does the course take?

The quick answer, typically this course takes about 5 or 6 weeks to complete, though you can complete it as quickly or slowly as you’d like. The course itself has 5 modules, and about 10 hours of video content. So it’s like watching a movie per week for 5 weeks. Some people like to watch some of the videos at double speed, others like to slow it down. 

How long do I have access to the materials?

You get access to all course materials for 3 years from the day of purchase (If you end up needing more than that, please reach out when the time comes... but most people are enjoying their finished landscape by then)! 

What is the design work like?

I’ve broken the design process down into steps (homework activities) that guide you through you the landscape design process. After watching a video, you’ll need some time to do the work. 

Many steps only take you a few minutes, like a quick brainstorm. Others will take a few hours, like drawing out your base map. 

Most can take as long as you want to spend on them. If you’re short on time, just skip the optional steps.

What are "design exercises"?

"Design Exercises" are activities I've created to make it easier for you bring your ideas to life, one step at a time. They are fun ways to come up with new ideas, test them out for practicality, and see how everything fits together in your design space. Most involve drawing possibilities onto a map of your design area, with prompts, tips, and instructions. 

Your homework will include completing various design exercises, which will guide you easily through the design process

What are the videos like?

I built this course so you feel like I'm sitting right next to you, guiding you through the design processMost videos are around 10 minutes long (though the longest is about 25 minutes, and the shortest is only about 2 minutes). They are filled with design examples and step-by-step demonstrations. There are closed captions, and you can speed the videos up, or slow them down if you prefer. 
You get access to the whole course when you purchase, and can watch the videos anytime. 

What is not in this course?

This course is...

NOT about installation, or everything landscape design related...

It is understandably not possible for any course to teach EVERYTHING about landscape design!
For example, we talk about irrigation basics and how to distinguish basic irrigation zones in your design area, but you will not learn everything about installing an irrigation system (maybe in another course in the future?).

By the end of this course, you WILL be able to create a hand drawn, to-scale landscape design layout plan. It's about design and planning. About taking an inventory of your needs from the space, learning from your yard, collecting inspiration, brainstorming solutions, creating a base map, prioritizing ideas, and putting it all together into a cohesive map or plan. At the end of this course, you'll have clear goals on paper. This will make it much easier to get started and bring your dream landscape to life.

NOT meant to replace the expertise of any certified or licensed professional...

It is understandably not possible for any course to provide you with everything you need to know for your project! Or even everything about landscape design! A little legal clarity: This course also does not seek to replace the expertise of a landscape designer, an irrigation specialist, a certified pesticide/herbicide/fungicide applicator, a landscape contractor, an architect, an engineer, the list goes on and on. Even though I am a designer and certified horticulturist in my state, I am not acting as your designer. This course is for informational purposes only: I will help you come up with ideas and find resources, but YOU will ultimately decide what is best for you and your yard.

NOT specific to any region or climate... (You can live anywhere in the world)

You can live anywhere in the world and enjoy this course! It’s about the design process, most of which is pretty universal, though you will need to look up some of your own, regionally specific resources. I’ll share tips for what types of resources to look for. If, coincidentally, you happen to live in the Pacific Northwest corner of the USA, you can be more lazy, because of course I’ll share the resources I use. But, you can live anywhere in the world and take this course!

Frequently Asked Questions

Click on the question to open the response

Why take this course and not hire a landscape designer?

Landscape designers are wonderful! But if you are someone who wants to be more hands on, learn new things about plants and design, and be empowered to design your yard yourself, then this course is a good fit for you. 

No one knows your yard better than you. No one knows your needs and wants and dreams better than you. 

A good designer will learn your yard and your needs and wants, and apply their expertise to create a design that's custom made for you.  Of course, you have to pay the designer for the time it takes to learn these things about you and your space. 

This course will help you design your own yard efficiently, but I'm not promising it's the fastest and easiest way to get a design done. It will take some time; watching videos, brainstorming, learning, and designing. 

But at the end of it, you'll have a yard that is entirely your design.

What if I have no artistic skills?

You do not need any fancy artistic skills to take this course! If you can draw lines and circles, you'll do great. Feeling extra fancy? Add in some colored pencil. If you DO have artistic skills, all the better. 

Do I need technical skills? Or any fancy software?

You do not need any advanced technical skills or knowledge of landscape design software to take this course. 

You WILL need access to a printer or scanner on a few occasions (this can usually be done at a local library, printing center, or even a loving friend's house if you do not own a printer/scanner). I also will be sharing spreadsheets as a part of the homework and activities, so being comfortable typing into these will help. I'll share some tips, of course!

We will not be learning landscape design software in the primary curriculum of this course. We'll be hand drawing a landscape design plan.

If you do have experience with software or even graphic design skills, you can level-up your hand drawn map using these softwares: but that's totally optional! The course includes a few optional tutorials to help. 

What do I need to complete this course?

-A computer or smart phone + internet access
-A printer/copier on a few occasions (library, printing center, or friend's printer will work if you don't have your own)
-Basic office supplies (paper, pens, pencils, a pencil sharpener, a permanent marker, tape)
-A tape measure (borrow one if you need to! 25ft works, but 100ft is better)

OPTIONAL but helpful:
-Erasable colored pencils (like these)
-Tracing paper
-Circle stencil (like this one)

VERY OPTIONAL... Just for fun:
-A light desk
-Laser measuring tool
-Measuring wheel

-Some spare time over about 6 weeks (give or take... You get access to the course for 3 years!)
-Passion for your upcoming project
-The desire to learn and research

How much time will this course take?

This online course is built to be completed in your spare time over about 6 weeks, though you can complete it as quickly or slowly as you like (You get access to the course for 3 years).

There are about 10 hours of videos total, and about 1-3 hours of homework activities per week, though you can go quicker or slower as you prefer.
You can watch the videos and do the activities whenever you have time.

Honestly... My recommendation is to spend as much time as you are able, improving your design, before getting started. It's easier to redo any mistakes on paper than it is in the landscape!

How long do I get access to the course?

You get access to the course materials for 3 years (but by then, you're likely to be enjoying your landscape!)

Will you be recommending plants or providing plant lists?

Generally, no, because you could live anywhere in the world! Instead, I provide advice and ideas on how to find and choose the perfect plants for you. Really, this is more helpful than providing plant lists or specific plant recommendations as a part of the main course content, since you'll be empowered to find good plant choices on your own!

What are the instructor's qualifications?

Hi, my name is Eve Hanlin! I help new and experienced gardeners plan and design their successful gardening projects. 

I'm based in the Pacific Northwest corner of the USA. I'm a tested and state certified professional horticulturist, landscape designer, workshop instructor, and part time dahlia farmer.

I've been gardening since I was 13, when I borrowed a gardening book from the library, and fell in love. This passion led me to train to be one of my state's youngest University Extension Master Gardeners at the age of 15. 

I have been teaching local classes and offering local landscape design services for about a decade, and am excited to now be creating online resources to help more people! Hence the beginning of Garden Project Academy. Learn more about me, here.

What is Garden Project Academy?

Garden Project Academy offers online courses and resources to help you have a successful gardening or landscaping project.

Check out some YouTube videos, sign up for the newsletter, or watch the free mini course: How to Choose the Perfect Plant. 

While I've been designing and teaching workshops for years, this company is new. Through Garden Project Academy, I'm excited to be sharing resources and inspiration to make it easier for you to make the world a slightly better place, starting in your garden. 

I am/want to be a landscape designer. Will this course help me?

This course is designed for do-it-yourselfers who want to transform their own design space (typically, their own yard): It is not structured as a training for any landscape industry professionals.
However, you may still learn something new about the design process. And please, reach out! It is SO nice to meet others in the industry for mutual support (and collaborations).

What if I have another question? 

For other questions, please contact me at

Start Designing Today!

Landscape Layout

Online Course



Design-Your-Own Landscape Layout


I'm working on it now... Sign up for the waitlist to be one of the first to hear when it's ready!

Of course, if you fill out this form, you're agreeing to receive emails from Garden Project Academy. I have good email manners (and you can unsubscribe at the bottom of any email at any time).