Gardening and horticulture

Hone your green thumb at The Morton Arboretum. Create the “wow” garden you always dreamed of, or, deepen your connection to trees and nature even further by taking a class in horticulture and gardening. Gain a better understanding of plants, garden design, and best practices for the landscape garden from the experts at The Morton Arboretum.

Gardening and horticulture classes 

While we do still offer classes in this certificate, as of June 2014, we are not accepting new enrollments in our certificate programs.  If there are specific subjects you are interested in, please do review our current classes to see if we have a program that meets your needs:

Class listings

Home Landscape Gardening Certificate

Learn how to select the best trees and plants, plan landscapes and gardens, and even choose sustainable options when you pursue a Home Landscape Gardening Certificate at The Morton Arboretum.

Horticulture and gardening studies under the Home Landscape and Gardening Certificate program include:

  • Gain knowledge in garden style and landscape planning.
  • Evaluate the inherent resources of your site including soil, setting, vegetation, and microclimate.
  • Learn how to install and maintain your landscape or garden.
  • Establish contacts with local professionals.
  • Study a variety of plants suitable for Midwestern landscapes and gardens.

Program outline

The Home Landscape Gardening Certificate has thirteen core courses on plant biology, identification, and culture and landscape design and maintenance. The only prerequisites are a love for gardening and willingness to learn. The program is flexible to match your individual areas of interest with forty-eight contact hours of electives.

Core courses

Landscape Plants

Identify woody and herbaceous plants, covered in seven 3-week courses over a 12- month period. Students keep a personal “bloom” calendar.
H171 – H177. 9 hours. Winter, two courses each in Spring, Summer, Fall

Introduction to Botany

Explore the world of plants by learning how leaves, flowers, fruit, seeds, and roots relate to water, light, nutrients, and reproduction. Classes begin with presentations followed by lab sessions to observe plant structures and functions.
N234. 18 hours. Fall, Winter

Insects and Diseases of Landscape Plants

Learn to identify common insects and diseases affecting your plants, find out what to do about them, and how to diagnose problems on your own.
H422, H424 or H426. 15 hours. Winter, Spring or Summer

Plant and Care for Your Landscape Garden

Learn about tools and techniques to better divide, water, and seasonally care for plants. Students keep a personal garden journal.
H443. 9 hours. Spring, Fall

Pruning Small Trees and Shrubs

Study and practice proper pruning techniques for optimum plant performance including timing and tools.
H448. 6 hours. Winter, Spring

All About Soils and Composting

Dig deeper into the foundations of your garden—the soil.  In this introduction to soil composition, biology, and management, learn about the properties and types of soil, how to assess the soil in your yard, and how to work with soil for garden success.
H777. 9 hours. Spring

Plan Your Landscape 1: Getting Started

Gain knowledge on how to measure and evaluation a site and create a scale drawing. Prepare a scaled drawing of your property to use as a base map. This class was formerly named “Beginning to Plan Your Landscape.”
H933. Prerequisite for other design classes. Fall, Winter.


Elective courses change from season to season, expanding the certificate with new information and responding to student evaluations and requests. Forty-eight hours of enrichment courses are needed to complete the certificate. Elective courses will include garden tours, workshops, and seminars in the following topic areas:

  • Tree care and selection
  • Landscape design
  • Perennials
  • Vegetable and food gardening
  • Woodland and prairie gardens
  • Plant propagation


Ready to Enroll?

Please contact the Registrars' Office at Registrar-ed@mortonarb.org or 630-719-2468 to enroll in the Home Landscape Gardening Certificate Program.


Continuing Horticulture Students

Participants enrolled in the Horticulture or Home Landscape Gardening program prior to 2010 have two options:

  1. They can choose to complete the requirements they enrolled under, substituting the current classes for the previous requirements.
  2. They can also choose to complete their certificate using the current requirements and work with the program manager to integrate their current classes into the new requirements.