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Horticulture Programs

Commercial Landscape Horticulture

Thistles prepared for the “Noxious Weeds and Weed Law” green industry class Cooperative Extension offers workshops on controlling noxious weeds, such as this musk thistle, as part of their green industry training. Photo by Ashley Andrews.

Classes offer training for green industry workers, including some bilingual classes, on how to landscape in the Nevada desert


Extension’s 2012 statewide Horticulture Situational Analysis and the 2011 Comprehensive Regional Water Management Plan by the Northern Nevada Water Planning Commission cite the need for more professional education in the green industry. Surveys of green-industry professionals showed demand for short seminars, nursery worker training and continuing education opportunities for professional certification, all during the off-season or at noon. Topics deemed important included diagnosing plant problems, plant insects and diseases, plant identification, integrated pest management, weed management, soil fertility and plant nutrition, native plant landscaping, pruning, and pesticide certification/safety training.

In southern Nevada, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas received requests to offer a class on fundamentals of horticulture. In addition, the rapid growth of the Hispanic population created a need for bilingual training related to landscape maintenance.

Response/What’s Been Done

Northern Nevada’s Green Industry Training Program had its seventh basic training series of eight classes for industry workers in 2017. Topics included plant diseases, weeds, soils, insects, landscapes, turfgrass, integrated pest management, pesticide safety and plant identification. Extension taught eight advanced classes for continuing education credits for certification and licensing, including four in English and Spanish. Bilingual classes included pesticide safety, integrated pest management, hands-on pruning and planting techniques. Other topics were managing trees during drought and keeping urban trees alive with limited water.

Southern Nevada’s Basic Principles of Landscape Management taught 410 commercial clients in 2017, including 71 Spanish-speakers. Topics included pruning trees, integrated pest management and general landscaping. Clark County Extension’s botanical gardens was used for hands-on learning with 55 students. Extension also trained arborists in New Mexico and worked on a Best Practices for Arborists Program.

Results/Impact and Partners

In northern Nevada, 40 prospective green-industry members attended the Green Industry Training basic training series, with:

  • Participants reporting an average increase in knowledge of 51.3 percent.
  • 19 of 21 attendees who went on to take the Green Industry Training certification exam receiving a passing score of at least 70 percent.

Of the 25 attendees of the New Mexico arborist training, in a post-workshop survey:

  • All participants believed the information presented was useful.
  • All participants reported a gain in knowledge.

Partners included:



commercial clients taught in 2017


reported gain in knowledge

“We need specific high desert knowledge in addition to the rest of the skills our teammates must possess. We are fortunate to have both our own knowledgeable teammates, as well as a Cooperative Extension service (part of the University of Nevada) that provides specific, high desert horticulture training for gardening and landscaping….We also take advantage of the training of Master Gardeners and High Desert Horticulture classes (Grow Your Own, Nevada) that are a key part of the Cooperative Extension’s service offerings. All our teammates that stay with us are certified through these classes, and they are a great source of employment leads.

—Bruce Gescheider, Moana Nursery in Reno, Nevada, in a Today’s Garden Center national blog site: response to the question, “What are the best ways to find and hire employees with horticultural knowledge or experience?”


Northern Nevada

  • Heidi Kratsch, Northern Area Horticulture Specialist, 775-336-0251

Southern Nevada

Horticulture Programs

Programs Program Information

Carson City Community Garden

The Community Garden began in 2001 and allows community members who don’t have room for a vegetable garden to rent a 4-by-16-foot garden bed for $20 a season at a 25-bed garden complex on Beverly Drive east of the cemetery. The price includes water, soil preparation, some seeds and fertilizer.

Commercial Landscape Horticulture

Thistles prepared for the “Noxious Weeds and Weed Law” green industry class

Community Beautification through Horticulture

Desert Green, Commercial Water Conservation Training

Desert Green is in its eleventh year and is designed to educate commercial clientele in the Green Industry as well as others who have an interest in water conservation issues. A committee representing the industry implements the training. Desert Green is chaired by one industry representative and one UNCE representative. The program is presented once a year, with 36 classes taught in a two-day period. A committee of industry representative reviews evaluations from the previous year to decide future educational direction and topics. During the evaluation process, the program is reviewed, modified and revised according to the needs of the clientele. As part of the marketing of this program, two articles citing the importance of Desert Green appear in regional trade publications.

Food for Thoughts, School Garden

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Food for Thoughts Program offers children an alternative site for learning, promotes awareness of the desert environment, demonstrates the geographic sources of their food, and encourages healthy eating and activities.

Green Industry Training Programs of Northern Nevada

Green Industry Training (GIT) and Green Industry Continuing Education Series (GICES) are cost- and time-efficient approaches to serving the Green Industries of northern Nevada, including nursery workers, landscapers, arborists, irrigation and lawn care professionals. The Green Industry Training program begins in late winter with eight three-hour sessions of entry-level training for new industry workers, for those desiring to work in the industry and for existing industry professionals desiring a skills "tune-up." After "basic training," industry members are invited to monthly continuing education opportunities — one hour per month over the noon hour — to hone and improve their skills.

Grow Your Own, Nevada

 A tray of vegetables

Healing gardens in Las Vegas

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension healing gardens essentially become outdoor sanctuaries for people who are hospitalized as well as their families and the staff that works with them.

Master Gardeners in Nevada

 A bumblebee pollinating a yellow flower

Nevada Desert Bioscape

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Desert Bioscape program takes a holistic approach to conserving natural resources in an urban setting. This program targets adult learners in the Green Industry of southern Nevada. This program utilizes the successful Correctional Horticultural program as a model for development. Implementation of the curriculum meets the needs of people already working in the industry. In addition to these goals, training will be translated into money savings for the companies and municipalities because correct practices are being implemented. Students that are planning to or are now taking other classes to improve their job skills are being surveyed.

Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper (QWEL)

Man conducting irrigation water audit

Research Center & Demonstration Orchard

The Research Center and Demonstration Orchard has been a cooperative effort between University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and University of Nevada, Las Vegas for over 20 years. The main emphasis has always been on water conservation in the Mojave Desert. From the very beginning, deciduous fruit trees, wine and table grapes, and various kinds of vegetables have been grown and tested for their ability to survive and produce under desert conditions.

The Greenhouse Project

The Carson City Greenhouse Project was conceptualized in November 2008 in partnership between UNCE; the Carson City Cultural Commission; The Greenhouse Project Committee, a grassroots, community organization; the Carson City School District; Nevada State Parks; and numerous volunteers. The Greenhouse Project serves as a teaching facility for hands on programs at the Carson City High School. Students help to cultivate and distribute vegetables and herbs for culinary classes and community food banks. Additional flower baskets are grown to beautify downtown Carson City.

Weed Warriors Invasive Weed Training

The Weed Warriors Invasive Weed Training Program is held several times a year, usually in late winter or spring. This eight-hour, two-day introductory-level training introduces participants to the principles of Integrated Weed Management and focuses on improving ability to identify noxious weeds of local importance. A small fee is charged for program materials, and the class can be videoconferenced to other locations upon request. Each year, several dozen people go through the training and become certified Weed Warriors. Pesticide applicators receive six Continuing Education Credits for attending this course. Each year in May during a community event in the Truckee Meadows, Weed Warrior volunteers help rid parks and riverfront areas of invasive thistles.