Garden Design course uses principals of nature. Permaculture Design

Garden Design Course

Nature-Inspired Design for Your Garden

The Ecological Garden Design Course covers five techniques for designing a new or refreshing an old garden. Complete each lesson at your own pace with pre-recorded videos and design exercises when you join the Shrubscriber community.

When’s the best time to plant my garden? How can I keep it watered without much work? What can a fence do? Can a bird bath reduce garden pests? Where should we put the compost bin? The more connected a system is, the more resilient it tends to be. What lessons can we draw from ecosystems to build resilient gardens, communities, and cities?

Shrubscriber Ecological Garden Design Course, Online
Join the Shrubscriber Community to Access the Ecological Garden Design Course

The Ecological Garden Design course concentrates on broad ecological patterns designed to build connections between the elements within your yard, school or community garden.

Course Outline

Lesson 1 – Garden Like a Forest

What gives ecosystems their resiliency, and how can we apply nature’s patterns in our yards? This first lesson gives us a foundation and lays out the goals for the rest of the garden design course.

Lesson 2 – Water, Access, Structures

Plant your water before you plant your garden. We examine how water interacts with your landscape and how best to retain, pacify, and sink water into the landscape. Once we establish how water interacts with your garden, we can refine the placement of additional paths and structures.

Lesson 3 – Sector & Zone Analysis

We use a sector mapping activity to track the movement of elements such as wind, sun, sound, and sightlines to take advantage of how they interact within your garden. We then map the frequency with which you use various parts of your garden to create an analysis of your garden’s microclimates. Together, these mapping tools are instrumental in determining the final location of design elements such as garden, compost, sitting area, and plant placement.

Lesson 4 – Needs & Yields

Work is a need that isn’t being met, and waste is a yield with no use. In a healthy ecosystem, the end of each process is the beginning of another. We’ll perform a Needs and Yields analysis to determine the design work and waste out of your garden.

A key insight from a needs and yields analysis is that everything garden – even the unwelcome things.

Lesson 5 – Putting it All Together

In this final section, we’ll take all of the information we gathered in the previous four lessons to create an integrated, ecologically inspired garden design. When you’re done, you’ll have a blueprint for a garden that meets your needs and aligns with the natural world.

The Ecological Garden Design Course Supports Community Tree Planting

Ecological Garden Design is delivered online via the Shrubscriber, a community-supported forest network, and is available to all members of In addition to course access, members join a community of like-minded gardeners, tree experts, and nature enthusiasts. When you become a member to access the course, you’re also supporting tree planting in Edmonton area schools and communities.

What You’ll Get From A Nature-Inspired Garden Design Course

The connections created with your ecologically inspired garden will:

  • Decrease labour and input costs by correctly placing elements where they’ll thrive.
  • Decrease waste by designing it out of the system or incorporating it back into the garden.
  • Embrace biodiversity as a resilience-building tool.
  • Reduce or eliminate watering by capturing and soaking it into the landscape.
  • Increase garden yield
  • Connect with the Shrubscriber community and help fund trees for local communities.
Dustin Bajer, Ecological Garden Design Course
Holding a Simonet Pear grown on an espalier pear tree in my Edmonton backyard