All course information is listed within this syllabus.

HORT 169N: Fundamentals of Home Landscaping: An Introduction to Design, Construction, and Maintenance (3 credits). This course offers broad coverage of the environmental, human, technological, and aesthetic issues associated with residential landscape design. Beginning with the way we perceive, manage, and design the landscape, the course examines the arrangement of land, water, plant forms, and structures for their best use and greater enjoyment. Relying on actual procedures and underlying principles utilized by experienced residential landscape designers, the course will introduce students to basic design principles, concepts, and specific procedures for preparing site plans and associated documents. The course will also explore designing with and general care of plants, assorted hardscape types, and how to properly assess a site. From choosing trees, shrubs, and ground covers that are correct for the site to properly installing patios, decks, and walkways, students will be presented with the varied ways plants and hardscapes are installed and maintained. The course will conclude with students completing a design for a residential site.

Prerequisites: None

HORT 169N fulfills a general education requirement for arts (GA) as well as for natural sciences (GN).


Instructor for HORT 169N.

Michael R. Mohney, Ph.D.
Associate Teaching Professor of Landscape Contracting

Department of Plant Science
302 Tyson Building
University Park, PA 16802

Phone (Office): 814-865-6596
E-mail: Use Canvas Inbox or

Office Hours: By Appointment / Zoom

Course Objectives

  • Describe how to interpret the visual elements used during the overall landscape design process, including drawings and graphics tools, and apply this knowledge to the development of personal design concepts.
  • Describe the elements and principles of design, identify examples in various landscape images, and discuss how the elements and principles of design were utilized in the landscape design process.
  • Identify, collect, and analyze necessary information using appropriate technologies and analytical techniques as they relate to identified landscape issues and explore alternative design or planning solutions to the identified problem(s).
  • Identify and describe various plant characteristics, surface materials, and enclosures used to create and enhance exterior design spaces and describe the functional applications and configurations used for these materials.
  • Explain how to visualize the landscape site and design space as outdoor rooms and apply standard design principles to enhance the appearance of residential and commercial outdoor spaces and discuss the impact these landscapes have on the environment and human enjoyment.

Course Outline

Module 1: State of the Landscape Industry

Module 2: Introduction to the Base Map

Module 3: Site Inventory, Analysis, and Design Program

Module 4: Functional Diagram — Developing a Design Solution

Module 5: Form Study — Working With Design Themes

Module 6: Introduction to the Residential Master Plan

Module 7: Designing With Plants

Module 8: Selecting Plants for Your Design

Module 9: Hardscape Material Composition

Module 10: Construction Methods and Project Pricing

Module 11: Creating Plant Beds

Module 12: Health and Maintenance of Plants

Modules 13 and 14: Design Your Own Landscape Using 3D Software

Module 15: Your Video Presentation on the Final 3D Project

Course Schedule

For due dates, refer to the Course Summary on the Syllabus page in Canvas.

Course Materials

Readings and additional supporting course material will be through PDFs, website links, and YouTube videos.


Removable storage media device such as a USB flash memory drive (16 GB or higher) or a portable hard drive. For a cloud storage option, check out OneDrive, offered through Office 365.

The following drawing/drafting equipment is necessary for this course:

  • Mechanical pencil — preferred
  • Sharpie marker — fine point and ultra fine point
  • 12" ruler — 1/16" increments
  • 8.5 x 11 trace paper — roll or tablet
  • 12–24 pack of colored pencils — Crayola brand

Realtime Landscaping Architect

This course requires the use of Realtime Landscaping Architect for your final project. The software is PC platform only and is available in several options:

  • Free trial — fully functional, but contains a small number of plants and other objects (preferred)
  • Architect — for landscape professionals (optional) ($599.00)
  • Pro — for homeowners and aspiring landscape designers (optional) ($279.00)
  • Plus — for homeowners (optional) ($149.00)

For those using a Mac platform, you will need to download and install Boot Camp Assistant to install Windows 10 on your Mac.

If you have any questions or issues regarding the software, reach out to software support.

For questions about installation, purchase, or registration:

For those using touchpad laptops, a three-button mouse is strongly recommended to properly navigate the software interface.

If needed, review the privacy policy of Idea Spectrum.


Grades will be based on the evaluation of weekly quizzes, module assignments, and a final project and presentation. Check Canvas for requirements and due dates.

Course Quizzes

Quizzes are timed. Students will have until the due date to complete them. No make-up is provided.

Module Assignments

One excused late submission will be granted for one module assignment during the semester only if prior arrangements have been made before the due date. An excused late submission for a module assignment will not be accepted after 24 hours of the original due date unless otherwise approved by the instructor(s). This policy does not apply to the final design project and presentation.

All module assignments are due at the end of the week (Sunday 11:59 p.m. EST). Assignments submitted after the due date will be assessed a late penalty of 5% per day until submitted. Late assignments will not be accepted five (5) days after the due date unless prior arrangements have been made with the professor.

Final Project and Presentation

Late submissions for the final project and presentation will be granted only if the absence was excused in advance and/or constitutes a university-recognized activity before the due dates.

Grading Policy

The following table is the grading criteria for the course.

Grading Criteria
Requirement Cumulative Point Value
Weekly Quizzes 120
Module Assignments 290
Final Project 50
Final Presentation 50
TOTAL: 510

The following table is the grading scheme for the course.

Grading Scheme
Letter Grade Percentage
A 100% – 94%
A- < 94% – 90%
B+ < 90% – 87%
B < 87% – 84%
B- < 84% – 80%
C+ < 80% – 77%
C < 77% – 70%
D < 70% – 60%
F < 60%

Please refer to the University Grading Policy for Undergraduate Courses for additional information.

NOTE: If you are planning to graduate this semester, please communicate your intent to graduate to your instructor. This will alert your instructor to the need to submit your final grade in time to meet the published graduation deadlines. For more information about graduation policies and deadlines, please see "Graduation" under World Campus Student Resources.

Online Students Use of the Library

As Penn State students, you have access to many of the materials that the library offers to students. The library website has a lot to offer but can be overwhelming. A guide has been created to serve as your introduction to important library resources, services, and important pages within the library. The Online Student Library Guide is updated regularly by the online librarian. It is intended to provide a level of comfort through an introduction to help you feel comfortable navigating the library website to find valuable information for your coursework.

Technical Requirements

This course is offered online and it is assumed you possess the minimum system requirements and computing skills to participate effectively. A list of technical requirements is listed on World Campus' Penn State Technical Requirements page.

Minimum Skills

  • You should have an understanding of basic computer usage (creating folders/directories, switching between programs, formatting and backing up media, accessing the internet).
  • You must be able to conduct word processing tasks such as creating, editing, saving, and retrieving documents.
  • You must be able to use a web browser to open web pages, download files, and search the internet.
  • You must be able to use an e-mail program to send and receive messages and to attach and download documents/files.
  • You must be able to download and install programs or plug-ins from the internet.

Getting Help With Canvas Courses

Canvas support is available 24/7 via chat or phone.

It is in your own best interest to be as specific as you possibly can. Try to include information such as the specific course page, quiz question, etc. you were on; what you attempted to do when that failed; the exact language of any error message displayed on your screen; the date and time when your problem occurred; and any other pertinent information (does the problem happen consistently and always in the same way, etc.).

Support Services

As a student, you have access to a variety of services and resources, including advising, tutoring, library services, career services, and more. Please visit the following resources for more information:

Accessibility Information


The term "Netiquette" refers to the etiquette guidelines for electronic communications, such as e-mail and discussion postings. Netiquette covers not only rules to maintain civility in discussions but also special guidelines unique to the electronic nature of messages. Please review Virginia Shea's "The Core Rules of Netiquette" for general guidelines that should be followed when communicating in this course.

Penn State Policies

Login Policy

Students are expected to log in regularly to keep up to date with announcements, discussions, etc. The class will progress at a regular pace throughout the semester and there are specific due dates and times for assignments, etc.

Course Availability

Your course will be available to you beginning the first day of class and will remain open for one year. After one year the course will close.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest, and responsible manner. Academic integrity is a basic guiding principle for all academic activity at The Pennsylvania State University, and all members of the University community are expected to act in accordance with this principle. Consistent with this expectation, students should act with personal integrity, respect other students' dignity, rights, and property, and help create and maintain an environment in which all can succeed through the fruits of their efforts. Academic integrity includes a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation, or deception. Such acts of dishonesty violate the fundamental ethical principles of the University community and compromise the worth of work completed by others (see Faculty Senate Policy 49-20, G-9 Procedures, and the Code of Conduct).

Please read the academic integrity guidelines for the College of Agricultural Sciences.

A lack of knowledge or understanding of the University's academic integrity policy and the types of actions it prohibits and/or requires does not excuse one from complying with the policy. Penn State and the College of Agricultural Sciences take violations of academic integrity very seriously. Faculty, alumni, staff, and fellow students expect each student to uphold the University's standards of academic integrity both inside and outside of the classroom.

Educational Equity Statement

Penn State takes great pride in fostering a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff. Acts of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment due to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, or veteran status are not tolerated and can be reported through Educational Equity on the Bias Response page.

Privacy Policies

For information about Penn State's privacy statement and what it encompasses, please read their Web Privacy Statement. Visit Penn State's FERPA Guidelines for Faculty and Staff page for information regarding its rules governing the privacy of student educational records.

Copyright Notice

All course materials students receive or to which students have online access are protected by copyright laws. Students may use course materials and make copies for their own use as needed, but unauthorized distribution and/or uploading of materials without the instructor's express permission is strictly prohibited. University Policy AD40, Recording of Classroom Activities and Note-Taking Services, addresses this issue. Students who engage in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials may be held in violation of the University's Code of Conduct, and/or liable under federal and state laws.

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)

Many students at Penn State face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional well-being. The University offers a variety of confidential services to help you through difficult times, including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, consultations, online chats, and mental health screenings. These services are provided by staff who welcome all students and embrace a philosophy respectful of clients' cultural and religious backgrounds, and sensitive to differences in race, ability, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

Accommodations for Persons With Disabilities

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. The Student Disability Resources website provides contact information for every Penn State campus. For further information, please visit the Student Disability Resources page.

In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation. If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus' disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations.

Accommodations for Military Personnel

Veterans and currently serving military personnel and/or spouses with unique circumstances (e.g., upcoming deployments, drill/duty requirements, disabilities, VA appointments, etc.) are welcome and encouraged to communicate these, in advance if possible, to the instructor in the case that special arrangements need to be made.

Use of Trade Names

Where trade names are used, no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by World Campus, Outreach and Cooperative Extension, the College of Agricultural Sciences, or The Pennsylvania State University is implied.

Subject to Change Statement

Please note that this Course Syllabus is subject to change. Students are responsible for abiding by such changes.

Course Availability

If you're ready to see when your courses will be offered, visit our public LionPATH course search to start planning ahead.