How does someone become an expert on Gardening, get certified and make it a career?

I am interested in turning my small time hobby of gardening into a bit of a career. Are there classes, certifications, training that I can take in order to become an expert on plants, trees, etc? I’d like to have a deep knowledge of the various kinds of trees, shrubs, flowers that work in different climates, how to best plant and maintain them, to design landscapes with a variety of well-coordinated plants, etc. Should I try to become a certified arborist? Where do I start exploring this potential new career direction? Thanks.

If you are serious about doing this I would advise taking a college course – either a bachelors degree or an associates degree in horticulture. As a professional horticulturist I have to admit that my co-workers and I tend to see Master Gardener programs & such as more for amateurs – whether this is valid of not is very debatable, however, if you are loooking to for a career in horticulture then it is something to consider.

One way to see what you really like & to get to talk to more professionals is to do something like volunteering at a botanical garden or some other gardening type of institution.
One word of warning: having changed careers myself from an office job career to horticulture, horticulture or gardening is pretty hard work – working outside in all condtions etc. It also tends to be pretty low paid and can often just be seasonal, depending on where you live, It sounds like an ideal, fun, relaxing career, but, much as I love my job, I sometimes wonder if it would not have been best to leave it as a hobby.

I am not trying to discourage you in any way, I just would like to give you a balanced view of the career.

Ways to deter weeds and insects, any ideas?

I’m thinking of doing a no till bed veggie garden in Oklahoma with sandy/clay soil.
I’m going to be making a compost pile and doing everything organic…so if I cant use bug spray or weed killer how do I rid my garden of it’s unwanted guest?
sorry, I tend to question pretty much everything before embarking on a new quest lol.

When bugs first appear in the garden as plants are growing, we typically resort to some chemical to evict the pests. With some advance planning of your garden, you may be able to prevent them from showing up in the first place. The answer? Flowers!

Certain flowers give off a fragrance that repels bad bugs, while other flowers emit a fragrance that lures the good bugs.


Both marigolds and nasturtium can handle a slew of buggy challenges. They thwart bugs that can harm your tomatoes, potatoes and strawberries including tomato hornworms, squash bugs, and whiteflies.

The fragrance of marigolds (more like odor because it is not a pleasant smell) is so strong, that if you plant marigolds around the perimeter of your garden, the mature plants will help deter rabbits and squirrels.


Lavender is a wonderfully fragrant flower that can be cost prohibitive to show its true value. Lavender has the potential of keeping mice and ticks away, but you’d need a lot of the plants to create a lavender-fence so to speak. One of the best things about growing lavender is that you can use the highly fragrant buds to create sachet packets.

To attract ladybugs and lacewings, plant yarrow. Golden Marguerite (think yellow daisy) also brings in ladybugs and lacewings.

What kind of mulch should I use in my flower garden?

I live in an area that is prone to black widow spiders. My MIL says I need to stay away from the bark mulches because black widows tend to like hanging out in damp, woody places. I want to know if putting bark mulch in my garden would attract black widows, and if so, what other mulches could I use instead.

I use cypress mulch and also have a problem w/ black widows. I’ve never seen one under my mulch, the black widows at my house tend to hide under the wood trim by the porches.

What should I get for my gardening grandfather for Christmas?

I’ve bought for everyone but my grandfather. He’s 82 and loves gardening and water gardening. Usually, I get him a bird feeder (he loves bird watching) or something that has to do with hummingbirds. This year I’m at a loss. I’m a first year teacher on my own and on a very limited budget. Any ideas?

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