Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Agriculture - Environmental Horticultural Science


Horticulture and Crop Science


John C. Peterson


The intention of this thesis is to create a business plan for the implementation of a Green Gardener Certification Program in San Luis Obispo County. There is a need locally to conserve resources and to reduce pollution. Landscape maintenance professionals need the opportunity to receive further training in their field for licensing purposes as well as to get an edge in a competitive industry. The public of San Luis Obispo County deserves the opportunity to select a landscape maintenance professional that has been certified “green”.

In 2000, Santa Barbara City and County Water Agencies implemented a Green Gardener certification program which was initially intended to address urban landscape irrigation efficiency. These agencies realized that landscape maintenance professionals had a huge impact on water efficiency and on non-point source pollution (Jordan & Aston 2001). The California Department of Pesticide Regulation defines a maintenance gardener as a person who provides services such as: lawn mowing, care taking, and general yard cleanup in outdoor ornamental and garden areas (2010). Maintenance gardeners knowledge of landscape care comes from garden center sales staff, previous experience, or information their clients provide them; very few have ever received any formal landscape training (Kleeman 2009; Kreidich et al. 2005; Paine et al. 1997).

The Green Gardener Program is an education and certification program that is intended to teach gardeners how to efficiently utilize valuable resources such as water, how to prevent pollution such as excessive use of synthetic fertilizers, and how to protect their client’s health by reducing their use of pesticides. Implementing a Green Gardener Program in San Luis Obispo County could prove to be an integral component in the pursuit to reduce air, soil, and water contamination.