NOTE: All member and nonmember tickets must be reserved in advance, and masks are now optional but recommended. Learn more about how you can join us!

The Ecological Gardening and Landscape and Garden Design Certificate programs consist of courses that teach best management practices necessary for gardening with minimal ecological impact, design principles and techniques for creating environmentally responsible landscapes, and essential knowledge on how to best use native plants for habitat and ecosystem preservation.

For more details about our programs, or to receive personalized class recommendations from our helpful staff, please feel free to contact us at edu@phipps.conservatory.org.

Confirmations will be emailed before each class, including a Zoom link for online classes. Please check your spam/junk mail folder, and if you have not received the link, email edu@phipps.conservatory.org.

Virtual classes are recorded and made available to all registered participants for one month after the program.

Cancellation policy:

Contact edu@phipps.conservatory.org or 412-441-4442 ext. 3925 to cancel a class registration.

  • Up to two weeks before the class (or the first class date, for a multi-session class), you may receive a full refund minus a non-refundable $10 adminstrative fee.
  • Up to 72 hours (3 days) before the class or the first class date, you may receive a 50% refund.
  • Less than 72 hours (3 days) before the class or the first class date, there are no refunds.
  • Special events like conferences will have a separate cancellation policy and refund deadline.

All times are Eastern Time Zone.

Ecological Gardening Certificate

A certificate in Ecological Gardening from Phipps Conservatory will give you a strong foundation in good gardening practices as well as a holistic look at the native plants and ecosystems of Western Pennsylvania. With this background you will be able to create gardens and residential landscapes that reflect an understanding of natural systems and provide beautiful places of refuge for people and local wildlife.

Learn More About this Program

Landscape and Garden Design Certificate

The objective of the Landscape and Garden Design certificate program is to prepare the student to apply the basic design principles and techniques in order to create aesthetically pleasing, environmentally responsible landscapes. Utilizing graphic skills and plant knowledge, students will work through the design process to complete a capstone project.

Learn More About this Program

Current Classes

Classes Currently in Progress

  • Home Garden Design | Meg Graham | Tues. Nov 1, 8, 15, 29, Dec 6, 13 | 6 – 8:30 p.m.
  • Landscape Design IV: Capstone Project | Michele McCann | Wed. Nov 2, 9, 16, 30, Dec. 7, 14 | 6:30 – 9 p.m.

Detailed Listings

Landscape Design I: Landscape Graphics | Michele McCann

Wednesdays: Jan. 11, 18 and 25, Feb. 1, and 8 (Snow Date: Thursday, Feb. 9) | 6:30 – 9 p.m. 

Phipps Garden Center in Mellon Park
$250 members | $260 nonmembers

Objective: To begin to be able to use acceptable freehand and drafting techniques that will produce legible landscape drawings.
Level: Beginner 
Pre-requisite: None [Note: This class was previously titled Landscape Graphics. It is the prerequisite to the rest of the Landscape Design II-V series.]

Designers use graphics to develop and communicate ideas that do not yet exist. Working with pencil, learn freehand and mechanical drawing techniques. Topics include lettering, sheet layout and title blocks, concept drawing and presentation plan graphics, and colored renderings. Landscape and Garden Design certificate program core course and an Ecological Gardening certificate program elective course.

Hydrangeas | Leslie Kaplan

Mon., Jan. 23 | 7 – 9 p.m. 

Live webinar through Zoom
$25 members | $30 nonmembers

Objective: To be able to effectively select, plant, prune and care for hydrangeas
Level: Beginner to intermediate
Prerequisite: None 

Discover how easy it is to have hydrangea blooms all summer long! Learn when to prune and how to get that amazing pink, blue or purple color. We will cover the following topics: culture, pruning, and use in your landscape as well as new varieties and unusual cultivars. Ecological Gardening and Landscape and Garden Design certificate program elective course.

Hardscape in Design | Kosta Bounos

Wed., Feb. 15, 22, March 1 (Snow Date: March 15) | 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. 

Phipps Garden Center in Mellon Park
$75 members | $85 nonmembers

Objective: To use hardscape effectively as an integral part of a landscape design and be able to install small DIY hardscapes
Level: Beginner to intermediate
Prerequisite: None

Hardscape defines a space and adds dimension and ornamentation, so it must be considered in the overall design process. Learn the basics of material selection, construction and drainage, as well as tips for completing simple DIY hardscape projects such as stone walkways and small retaining walls. Landscape and Garden Design certificate program core course and an Ecological Gardening certificate program elective course.

Plants for Winter Interest Walking Tour | Joshua Beblo

Sat., Feb. 25 (Snow Date: Sat., March 4) | 10 a.m. – noon 

Meet at Frick Park Traffic Circle/Homewood Gate (directions provided upon registration)
$25 members | $30 non members 

Objective: To be able to use evergreens effectively in the winter garden 
Level: Beginner to intermediate 
Prerequisite: None 

Landscape architecture instructor and passionate plantsman Joshua Beblo leads this walk and introduces you to nearly 20 plants that can be used in the garden to provide winter interest. The walk is about seven blocks long in the Point Breeze neighborhood. Dress for the weather. Ecological Gardening and Landscape and Garden Design certificate program elective course.

Botany for Gardeners | Philip Bauerle

Tues., Feb. 28, March 7, 14, and 21 | 6:30 – 9 p.m. 

Presented as a live webinar through Zoom
$130 members | $140 nonmembers

Objective:  To begin understanding and appreciating how plants function in the garden.
Level: Beginner to intermediate
Pre-requisite: None

Why does a seed germinate or fail to germinate?  Why are cut flowers collected early in the morning?  What happens to plant tissues under attack by insects and fungi?  Take a fascinating look at how plants grow.  Topics will focus directly on botanical principles that relate to gardening: plants and their importance to man; stems, leaves and roots; factors affecting plant growth; reproduction; and fruits and flowers. Ecological Gardening certificate program core course. 

Native Herbaceous Plants | John Totten

Mondays: March 6, 13 and 20 (snow date: March 27) | 7 – 9 p.m. 

Phipps Garden Center in Mellon Park
$75 members | $85 nonmembers

Objective: to gain a working knowledge of the native plants around us and how they can be used in the landscape
Level: beginner to intermediate
Prerequisite: None

It’s the 25th anniversary of this class that celebrates the beauty of the native plants that surround us.  We’ll look at the origins of our flora and use a plant community model to get to know and then grow them in our landscapes. As you move beyond pollinators and Monarchs, your hikes and bike trail rides will take on new meaning and your garden will reflect this journey. Ecological Gardening and Landscape and Garden Design certificate elective.

Landscape Design II: Design Overview and Development | Michele McCann

Mon., March 8, 22, 29 (Snow Date: April 5) | 6:30 – 9 p.m.; Sat. March 11 | 9 a.m. - noon

Phipps Garden Center in Mellon Park
$210 members | $220 nonmembers

Objective: To be able to understand and demonstrate the logical process of landscape design.
Level: Beginner to intermediate
Prerequisite: Landscape I: Landscape Graphics [Note: This class was previously titled Landscape Design I: Design Overview and Development.]

Learn practical aspects of developing a landscape including site analysis, surveying and graphics, regulations and restrictions, and soil and natural communities. Using a site specified by the instructor, you will develop a site inventory and landscape plan, practicing skills which can be used for your own landscape. A materials list will be provided by the instructor. Landscape and Garden Design certificate program core course and Ecological Gardening certificate program elective.  

History of Colonial American Gardens | Joshua Beblo

Thursdays, March 9, 16 and 23 | 7 - 9 p.m.

Live webinar presented through Zoom
$75 members | $85 nonmembers

Objective: To develop an understanding of the history of colonial American gardens and their influence on gardens of today
Level: Beginner to intermediate
Prerequisite: None

When Europeans first began colonizing North America, they brought with them gardening traditions from their homeland.  Explore how these cultural styles were modified to fit the differences in the landscapes of North America by selecting different plants or blending elements to produce practical or pleasurable gardens.  Compare the designs from different regions to see how some of these elements and values are still present in our gardens today. Landscape and Garden Design certificate elective

Sustainable Gardening Principles and Practices | Meg Graham

Tues., Apr. 4, 11, 18 | 6:30 – 9 p.m. 

Sat, April 22 (Rain Date Sun, April 23) | 9 a.m. – noon
Phipps Garden Center in Mellon Park
$135 members | $145 nonmembers

Objective: To develop an understanding of current horticultural practices that are environmentally friendly and will result in a healthy, attractive landscape.
Level: Beginner to intermediate
Prerequisite: None

Current research-based horticultural practices provide a solid foundation for growing successful and sustainable gardens.  This course will cover how to properly select and install native and sustainable plants, ensuring the right plant for the right place.  Students will participate in hands-on demonstrations including soil preparation and the use of organic amendments, proper planting and mulching techniques, watering and maintenance practices.  Participants will be introduced to proper pruning practices, IPM (integrated pest management), biological controls for pests and diseases, pollinator friendly practices and control of invasive species. Ecological Gardening and Landscape and Garden Design certificate programs core course.

Invasive Plant Interventions for Spring | Rachel Patnik

Field Experience: Saturday, April 15, 10 a.m. – noon
Online Class: Monday, April 17, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

$50 members | $55 nonmembers 

Objective: To identify invasive plants and problematic ornamentals and learn strategies for removal and/or control
Level: beginner to intermediate
Prerequisite: none

Did you know that timing is an important factor in controlling invasive species? Spring is the right time to tackle species such as garlic mustard, non-native shrub honeysuckle and Japanese hops. Early season interventions can also help reduce the vigor of tenacious weed species such as Canada thistle and Japanese knotweed, slowing their spread and making ongoing interventions less laborious. This class will provide hands-on learning in the field to identify these plants and other problem weeds, and will cover interventions that are most helpful for their control at this time of year. Ecological Gardening certificate program elective course. 

Landscape Design III: Principles of Design | Acadia Klain

Wed., April 26, May 3, 10 and 17 | 7 – 9 p.m.
Offsite field trip: Wed., May 24 (Rain Date: June 1) | 6 – 8 p.m.

Phipps Garden Center in Mellon Park
$200 members | $210 nonmembers

Objective: To understand and to begin applying the principles of aesthetics and design, including form, scale, rhythm, axis, color and texture, to landscapes.
Level: Beginner to intermediate
Prerequisite: Landscape Design I, Landscape Design II

This course will explain design principles which will then be reinforced in class with exercises in both two and three dimensions.  You will analyze the use of these design concepts in landscapes through slides, photos, magazines and a field trip. Landscape and Garden Design certificate program core course and Ecological Gardening certificate program elective course. 

Plant Propagation | Linda Kramer with John Totten

Tues., May 2, 9, 16 and 23 | 6:30 – 9 p.m.

Phipps Garden Center in Mellon Park
$130 members | $140 nonmembers

Objective: To master the techniques of plant propagation for landscape plants
Level: Beginner to intermediate
Prerequisite: None

Plant propagation is a valuable skill and one that is easier to master than you may think. An interactive, hands on approach will lead you through the basics of producing new plants via seeds, cuttings and division. You’ll practice the art of propagating perennials, annuals, woody plants and vegetables and take home the results. NOTE: This class will not cover house plant propagation. Ecological Gardening Certificate core course.

Gardening in the Shade | Leslie Kaplan

Mondays, May 8 and 15 | 7 – 9 p.m.
Offsite field trip: Saturday, May 20 (Rain Date: Sun. May 21) | 1 – 3 p.m.

Phipps Garden Center in Mellon Park
$75 members | $85 nonmembers

Objective: To develop an appreciation of the shade garden and be able to select and situate appropriate plants for the shady site
Level: Beginner to intermediate
Prerequisite: None

Gardening in the shade is not difficult — it is just different! Shade gardens provide a peaceful retreat where you can highlight the simplicity and elegance of plants. Expand your plant palate and learn to combine a variety of forms, foliage textures and variegation to make your garden come alive. We will discuss different types of shade, as well as annuals, perennials and shrubs that thrive in shady conditions. Explore tried and true varieties as well as some of the newest cultivars that have recently been introduced to the trade. Ecological Gardening and Landscape and Garden Design certificate elective.

Home Garden Design | Meg Graham

Tues. Nov 1, 8, 15, 29, Dec 6, 13 | 6 – 8:30 p.m. 

$195 members | $215 nonmembers
Phipps Garden Center

Objective: Students will be able to complete a site survey of a property, plot it on paper, and prepare a conceptual landscape plan suitable for themselves or presentation
Level: Beginner to intermediate
Prerequisite: None

Home garden design is more than selecting plants for a project, it is the integration of all the elements and spaces that affect our outdoor living environment. In this course you will be introduced to the objectives and principles that are essential to developing a strong design solution for yourself all the while you'll be introduced to new garden and design ideas to help grow your design acumen. Classes will cover how to determine your goals, draw to scale, and complete site analysis and assessment. You will learn how to take these skills, draw your garden design and create a conceptual garden plan for yourself or family. 

Bring to first class: 12 inch ruler; circle template; 2B pencil; eraser; pencil sharpener; color pencils; markers; 19x24inch sketch pad; notebook; and folder. A detailed materials list will be provided upon registration.

Ecological Gardening and Residential Landscape Design elective. This class has been approved for 15.0 CEUs for landscape architects by LA CES.

Landscape Design IV: Capstone Project | Michele McCann

Wed. Nov 2, 9, 16, 30, Dec. 7, 14 | 6:30 – 9 p.m. 

$195 members | $215 nonmembers
Phipps Garden Center

Objective: To complete a landscape design, incorporating the skills and processes learned in the core curriculum of the landscape design program, and drawing on knowledge acquired in the elective courses.
Level: Intermediate to advanced
Prerequisites: All Landscape & Garden Design core courses

This course is the culminating project of the core part of the Landscape & Garden Design certificate program. Using a specified design project, the student will work to develop a final design, including a planting plan. Residential Landscape Design certificate program core course. This class has been approved for 15.0 CEUs for landscape architects by LA CES.