How Green Is Your Gardener?



(The Santa Barbara graduation class–spring 2007)

Several coastal California counties have started Green Gardener Certification programs (that was Santa Barbara–here is Monterey)–and by "gardener," we mean "one who makes their living taking care of other people’s gardens."  The classes,which are offered in both Spanish and English, teach water conservation, pesticide reduction, pollution prevention, and other such ‘green’ practices. 

Self-employed gardeners can take the class (costs seem to run $40-$60 for the course, which is usually held at a community college for continuing education credit), and landscape companies are sending their crews.  Homeowners can go to the website to look for certified gardeners, and they’re also encouraged to talk to their gardeners about getting certified.

I’d love to see this take off across the country.  Imagine:

1.  Non-gardeners go organic without even realizing it.

2.  Those bland, contractor-designed gardens in newly-built suburbs may continue to offend the eye, but they won’t offend the earth.

3.  Landscape crews don’t have to handle harmful chemicals all day long.

What’s not to like?  If this isn’t happening in your county, Monterey has some information here about how to get it started.


  1. Fabulous idea! Maybe this will put an end to the synthetic fertilizer over-spray on streets and sidewalks. I cringe every time I see a 6- to 8-foot wide spray of fertilizer used to cover a 30-inch wide stripe of lawn; the excess will quickly wash away down storms drains and pollute the nearest stream.

    My neighbors use a lawn service that obeys their request to not use any synthetic products. Since their property sits higher than mine, this is very good news for me.

  2. Seems like a well-intended program that will benefit the joe mow and blow crowd, but it also seems like it isn’t only covering green practices from the class schedule, it’s giving a general overview of good practices. That’s already covered well by the Master Gardener and Community college classes in most areas.

    Drives me nuts when I see programs that are supposed to bring specialized knowledge to us green pros when the offering is really a dumbed down version of an easily accessible program that is already working fine. Why not just call it “master gardening lite”?

    Or better yet, why not assume a basic horticultural knowledge and give us some depthier topics?

  3. I don’t know a lot of professional gardeners, but all of those I know already do as much water conservation as possible and use little or no pesticides. They know plants and use them appropriately, which is one of the main reasons for their care.

    It sounds like the people organizing this are targetting ‘Landscapers’ (ie concrete and aggregate specialists) and lawn service employees as opposed to gardeners. I just wish they’d say so.

    I’m a professional gardener and I don’t need any ‘dumbed down’ course by well-meaning amateurs. I’ve already got a degree in Biology and 1/2 of one in Horticulture plus multi-years of experience and many upgrading courses done by and for professionals and I can avoid putting fertilizer on asphalt and concrete without taking some course. I can even grow plants in my greenhouses without blasting everything with pesticides.

    By all means train as many people as possible in the basics of good gardening and care of the environment, but don’t try and teach basics to the pros.

  4. In contrast to bryan who does not know a lot of professional gardeners, I do .
    Some are highly educated , others are self taught and some learned their skills on the job.
    Some are proficient speakers of English while others are not, but all want to do their best at their jobs no matter if it is digging a hole for a rose bush or grading a fine country estate.
    I say any form of education is uplifting and empowering whether it was learned in the halls of Harvard or the fields of Salinas.

  5. It was nice to see a reference to Santa Barbara. I learned my trade (gardening/landscaping) in that area in the 1960’s, and will submit that it is likely the closest we can come to a “gardener’s paradise”.

    Those there who work in this trade hopefully understand this.

    The course sounds like an excellent idea – wish I had that opportunity when I started out!

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