New California Native Plant Landscaper Certification Course Offered by Santa Barbara Botanic Garden Beginning in February 2024

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden has unveiled the new California Native Plant Landscaper Certification course for working and aspiring landscape professionals. The 19-hour hybrid course features both online learning and hands-on vocational training on how to create and keep a native garden thriving. Upon completion, participants receive the California Native Plant Landscaper Certificate, which has many benefits for their businesses. Registration is now open for the first session which begins in February 2024. For registration and more information, visit

“With more homeowners wanting to transition from turf to California native plants, it is essential that the gardening workforce have the skills and knowledge to maintain these landscapes,” said Alejandro Lemus, the Garden’s horticultural educator and the program’s primary instructor. “The Certification gives participants a competitive edge and helps them broaden their clientele. It also connects and creates a community of professional and residential landscapers skilled in native plant horticulture.”

Developed in partnership with Theodore Payne Foundation and California Native Plant Society, the new program provides participants with the tools to successfully manage native plants and California-friendly landscapes. The curriculum includes instruction on plant identification, soils, irrigation, weeding and integrated pest management, pruning, and garden assessment.

“A direct solution to our planet’s climate and biodiversity crisis is our ability to harness the regenerative power of native plants,” says Steve Windhager, Ph.D., the Garden’s executive director. “Our new landscaper certification program packages our horticultural know-how into tools that professionals can use to grow their business and ultimately create a more sustainable future.”

The first course is held over four weeks and include 16 hours of online classes, culminating with a 3-hour workshop at the Garden. The cost is $325 per person and includes a set of “Native Plants for Southern California Gardens” flashcards and the course student handbook.

Online Zoom instruction takes place from 6 to 8 p.m. on Monday and Thursday evenings between February 5 and 29, 2024. The workshop at the Garden is from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 2, 2024.

The first online session covers habitats, native and California-friendly plants, lawn removal and alternatives for replacing lawns, and how to grow natives in almost any garden condition. Students learn about the most common central coast native plants that are available for landscaping, and issues related to various soil types. Irrigation methods are covered over two sessions, one on establishing new plants, and the other on long-term practices. Sessions are dedicated to weeding and integrated pest management, and to pruning techniques and tool care. The in-person workshop is divided between irrigation practices and hands-on pruning.

Beneficial skills for business owners are integrated into the curriculum, including how to create a garden assessment including native plants, soil types, and irrigation; how to identify and troubleshoot problems; creating a cost analysis; and how to promote their business and certification.

Though the first session beginning in February is in English, future Spanish-only and Spanish-English blended courses will be available.

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