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Natural Awakenings Dallas -Fort Worth Metroplex Edition


Cultivating Sustainable Gardens

The Texas Master Gardener Program, administered by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, is taking the lead in transforming home gardening into a sustainable and eco-friendly practice by empowering gardening enthusiasts with knowledge, skills and a passion for nurturing their gardens and the planet.

Since 1979, the volunteer training program has grown into a statewide network to equip individuals with the horticultural expertise needed to assist their communities in matters related to gardening and environmental stewardship. Becoming a certified Texas Master Gardener involves a commitment to learning, volunteering and community engagement.

Training Program: Prospective Master Gardeners must complete a comprehensive training program, usually spanning several weeks, covering plant biology, pest management, soil science and sustainable gardening practices as the basis to provide accurate and reliable information to the public.

Volunteer Service: Upon completing the training, participants are required to contribute a specified number of volunteer hours to their communities that include answering gardening questions at local events, participating in community beautification projects or leading educational workshops. The goal is to share the acquired knowledge and skills with the public and promote sustainable gardening practices.

Continuing Education: To maintain certification, Texas Master Gardeners are encouraged to engage in continuous learning through ongoing education opportunities. This ensures that they stay up-to-date with the latest gardening trends, scientific advancements, and environmental practices. These are some key areas where Master Gardeners focus their efforts.

Water Conservation: Given arid Texas climate, water conservation is a top priority. Master Gardeners educate the public on efficient irrigation methods, the selection of drought-resistant plants and the importance of mulching to retain soil moisture.

Native Plant Promotion: Master Gardeners advocate for the use of native plants that are well-adapted to ;the local climate and ecosystems. Planting native species helps conserve water, reduce the need for pesticides and provides habitat for native wildlife.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM): Rather than relying on chemical solutions, Master Gardeners promote IPM strategies that prioritize environmentally friendly pest control methods. This approach minimizes harm to beneficial insects and promotes a healthier overall garden ecosystem.

Composting and Soil Health: Master Gardeners guide individuals in creating nutrient-rich compost to enhance soil fertility. Healthy soil not only supports robust plant growth but also sequesters carbon, contributing to broader environmental sustainability efforts.

For those eager to join the ranks of Texas Master Gardeners or seek guidance on sustainable gardening practices, there are several resources available. Prospective Master Gardeners may attend a 72-hour training course, commit to 60 hours of volunteer service and continue their education through advanced training, workshops and conferences. Each county has an extension office that serves as a hub for Master Gardener programs. They provide information on upcoming training sessions, volunteer opportunities and gardening resources tailored to the local environment.

The Texas Master Gardener Association ( serves as a statewide resource for certified Master Gardeners, providing event calendars, educational materials and networking opportunities.