852342 Planting design and horticultural ecosystem management

Project course
Semester hours
Lecturer (assistant)
Plenk, Sabine , Kriechbaum, Monika
Offered in
Wintersemester 2023/24
Languages of instruction


Planting as a design medium is characterized by horticultural, aesthetic and by environmental and ecological qualities. Particular in open urban space naturalistic planting design currently becomes more popular. The dynamic planting sites can be visually dramatic, long persistent and need simple low-intensity maintenance.The course aims at understanding the ecology of semi-natural plant communities and transferring this knowledge into horticultural planting design. Reading the landscape and observing plants help to design, establish and manage semi-natural horticultural plant communities. The focus is on small scale plantings (herbaceous & woody ornamental plants) in public urban areas and private gardens.

Theoretical support, field experience and practical garden work should strengthen an individual approach to naturalistic planting design. Students have to look at landscape and plant growth, analyze the visual appearance with the help of theory impacts and literature and come into contact with plants to understand their growth habits and aesthetic qualities. All experiences should be transformed into a design process. According to the schedule a planting design booklet is obligatory to be composed by each participant. The final assessment refers to the corresponding documentation of individual working progress and results.

Structure of the course:
1. Introduction presenting plants as designing elements, history of ecological based planting design, terms and views concerning landscape and vegetation, best practice
in ecological planting design
2. Field trip: perception of landscape, plants and specific vegetation patterns
3. Hands-on experiences: perception of plants and growth habits, deriving design requirements
4. Naturalistic planting design process
5. Presentation and final expert talk

Students have to do their individual studies and preparations in the extent of 50 hours.

Previous knowledge expected

Plant knowledge (herbaceous & woody vegetation); basics in vegetation ecology and planting design

Objective (expected results of study and acquired competences)

Applying suitable planting concepts in the field of garden- and landscape architecture; gaining expert knowledge in development and maintenance of horticultural plant communities as a function of ecologic patterns. Reading/ understanding of landscape, vegetation and single plant species due to naturalistic planting design and management. Training of professional skills in planting design. Becoming familiar with basic horticultural skills e.g. practical handling of perennials - vegetative propagation, planting, maintenance. Capacity to communicate planting design independantly and to evaluate practice by individual expert knowledge.
You can find more details like the schedule or information about exams on the course-page in BOKUonline.