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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Greener Gardens: Sustainable Garden Practices Biology X498.10


Instructors: David King and Orchid Black
Phone: redacted

COURSE TITLE AND NUMBER: Greener Gardens: Sustainable Garden Practices BIOLOGY X498.10

There are no prerequisites for this course. We will meet from April 05 through June 12 for 12 meetings. There are three field trips as indicated in our schedule (below). Class will meet in Botany, Room 325 at 6:30 PM Thursday evenings, but will likely move to Boelter Hall, Room 2760 on the third meeting, for improved blackboard space.

Course Purpose:

Sustainability is today's buzzword and many people seek to create a lifestyle with a more favorable impact on the environment. From home gardens to school and commercial sites, our gardens present the perfect place to start. Designed for horticulture students, gardening professionals, educators, and home gardeners, this course focuses on turning your green thumb into a "greener" garden. Topics include composting, irrigation, water harvesting, water wise plants, eating and growing local produce, recycling, and moving towards a sustainable lifestyle when choosing materials and tools. Includes weekend field trips to the Los Angeles River to see our relationship with water in the L.A. Basin, as well as a native garden with sustainable features, focusing not only on California native plants but also on water-conserving planting design. Students also visit the John T. Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies at Cal Poly Pomona, which advances the principles of environmentally sustainable living through education, research, demonstration, and community outreach. This course will enable students to understand and appreciate the changes we will need to make in our gardens to achieve ‘sustainability.’ A multitude of differing strategies will be presented allowing students to choose the extent of their involvement with more sustainable gardens and, ultimately, a more sustainable life style.

Course Objectives:

  1. Understand the concept of sustainability and its relevance to the modern garden.
  2. The reasons to consider sustainability.
  3. Be able to use the concept of sustainability in the creation of a garden and its maintenance.
  4. Understand and be able to present to others the concepts and ideas of sustainability and the myriad of alternatives to an overtly consumptive garden style.


This course is designed to be practical. Upon completion, students will be able to employ many different strategies to reduce consumption of water and oil-produced products and create beautiful and productive gardens that comprise a much smaller carbon footprint than most contemporary gardens.

Text for this course:

This course will not have a text. There will be an extensive bibliography from which the material presented has been gleaned; some books will be practical, some books theoretical, while others will present an overview of our current situation and the problems that affect our daily lives and the gardens we grow.

Course Schedule:

Mtg. Date Topic
1 23 June Introduction to Sustainability
2 30 June Design for Conservation of Resources
3 07 July Soils
4 09 July Garden Garden Field Trip
5 14 July Water I: Water Conservation
6 21 July Water II: Water Harvesting
7 23 July LA River Field Trip
8 28 July Sustainability of Front Yard Food
9 04 August Sustainable Planting Palette
10 11 August Habitat and Hardscape
11 13 August Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies
Subject to final
12 19 August Sustainable Gardening: The Next Frontier

Your grade will be predicated on class participation and your choice of two papers of no less than 5 pages or two projects (or a combination of one of each) on aspects of sustainability; topics and project possibilities will be discussed in class. We encourage students to use their own area of interests when choosing their topic or project.

Office Hours:

We will have no set office hours, however, we will be available by phone and by email. We are willing to meet with students by appointment.

After class is usually not a very good time because that’s when all students vie for answers and we are all tired after a long day. You can get a more thoughtful answer by contacting us another time.

Updates and Handouts

For this course we will utilize a blog page ( to post handouts and extra material to the class. There is an RSS feed through which each posting is automatically forwarded to your email so you can have access to handouts whenever they are posted. This approach is most handy when dealing with field trips because links to maps can be posted and any last minute updates are easily available. If this technology is new to you, another classmate or David will guide you through it. It is not difficult.

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