sustainable_gardening With spring on our heels, many green-thumbed citizens are gearing up for their gardens. While many gardeners already compost, which enriches the soil and reduces the impact in our landfills, there are lots of other conservation practices that gardeners can implement. As a California resident, conserving water is a large part of gardening. Luckily, several cities have eco-friendly and sustainable gardening classes available to residents, so that our gardens can not only be beautiful, but also sustainable. Southern California offers several free eco-gardening classes that focus on different topics, including drought-tolerant plants, sustainable gardening designs, drip and sprinkler system care and sustainable gardening care. These classes are offered through the Water Replenishment District and are designed to teach basic irrigation for “smart water gardening.” Northern California’s green gardeners can attend a workshop at Placer Nature Center in Auburn. Classes teach composting, gardening for hummingbirds and butterflies, fruit tree pruning and the importance of beneficial insects to your garden. In Seattle, residents can attend an eco-friendly gardening class that teaches gardeners to work in harmony with nature. The Backyard Habitat Classes are put on by the Woodland Park Zoo, and for a $25 per-class fee or $100 for the five-class series, attendees can learn how to conserve water, how to grow without pesticides or herbicides, how to place bird feeders and birdhouses and more. Gardeners in the Minneapolis suburb of Maplewood, MN, can take a class in the Rain Garden for Your Yard series, where attendees receive all the knowledge necessary to build their own backyard rain gardens. Ask your local community center or nature center if any sustainable gardening classes are taught in your area. If there is enough interest, consider starting your own class. You don’t have to attend a class to learn about sustainable gardening. There are a number of great blogs and books available where green gardeners can teach themselves. Maryland gardener Susan Harris founded the website Sustainable Gardening, where users can find gardening information that caters to beginners, intermediate growers and advanced gardeners alike. With clear and concise information on sustainability, composting, organic gardening, pruning, weeds and weeding, bugs and disease and even a “getting started” guide, users receive a wealth of information for free (and from the comfort of their own computers). Harris also founded the Garden Coach Directory, where gardeners can bring in an expert gardener to help perfect gardening plans. Along with websites, there are many helpful books out there on sustainable gardening. Search Amazon, Google, your local bookstore or library for a book to help you grow a green paradise in your back yard. Building a garden from used and reusable materials is the most earth-friendly way to grow. To obtain used goods to build your garden, try finding goodies on Freecycle, at your local thrift store or on Craigslist.