Fundamentals of Ecological Gardening

Start Date
End Date
Become a better gardener-sustainably. Discover the garden as an ecosystem and look to nature for best management strategies. Learn how to prepare a site, make wise plant selections, and install, establish, and nurture native plants in your garden. Observe demonstrations by Mt. Cuba Center horticulturists on basic sustainable gardening techniques, the proper use of tools, and organic approaches to plant health care. Leave with a guide to seasonal gardening tasks and make every garden an ecologically sound one.


10 am – 10:45 am
• Garden as Ecosystem
a) What is different about ecological gardening and why it is important
b) Explain the ecosystem concept
c) How does this concept apply to gardening
d) Site selection considerations: sun, shade, wet, dry; listen to your site and use nature as a model
e) Define goals for the garden
f) Preview/Introduce the remaining class topics
10:45 am – 12:15 pm
• Garden Maintenance
a) Pruning basics
b) Weed control
i. Types of weeds - cold vs warm; annual, biennual and perennial
ii. Weeding Strategies
c) Perennial Maintenance
12:15 – 12:45 LUNCH
12:45 pm – 2:15 pm
• Plant Choices
a) Ten bulletproof plants
b) Care and culture
2:15 pm – 2:30 pm
• Seasonal Gardening Tasks
a) Spring clean-up
b) Summer tasks
c) Fall jobs
d) Winter shut down
• Native Plant Sources and Sales

10 am – 11:30 am
• Site Preparation
a) Weeding/Weeding Tools
b) Soil: What does your soil look like?
c) Planting: discuss planting tool
d) Watering: how to water, when to water, how much water to use
e) Favorite tools & tips
11:30 am – 12:15 pm
• Competition and Editing
a) How plants move around: Seed vs. creeping rhizomes
b) Editing plants
c) Division
d) Refreshing ferns
12:15 – 12:45 LUNCH
12:45 pm – 2:15 pm
• Plant Health
a) Plant Health strategies like selecting the right plant for the right spot
b) Recognizing both beneficial and unwelcome insects in the garden
c) Options when undesirable pests are prevalent (an organic approach, cultural control)
2:15 pm – 2:25 pm
• Three R’s of Sustainability and Plant Resources Information
a) Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
b) Native plant sources and sales
2:25 pm – 2:30 pm
• Class Evaluations and Plant Giveaways
Hockessin, DE
Distance Learning
Course Equivalency
Horticulture / Plants
Health, Safety and Welfare
Learning Outcomes
1. Understand the importance of ecological gardening; how the garden is part of an ecosystem.
2. Learn how to prepare and maintain a garden site. Explore the three R’s of sustainability.
3. Gain familiarity with bulletproof native plants; how to edit/divide plants; and maintain the overall health of plants.
Susan Boss; Erin McCormick; Vic Piatt; Emily Tinalli; Marcie Weigelt
Website Registration
Course Codes
Mt. Cuba Center

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