Organic Land Care Certificate Program

The Rutgers Cooperative Extension Organic Land Care Certificate Program provides education to landscapers and land care providers on organic practices for promoting healthy soil, enhancing biodiversity, and reducing polluted runoff from managed landscapes.
The core of the program is a 5 day course designed for professional landscapers, property managers, public works employees, groundskeepers, and landscape architects. The course is not intended for recreation and sports turf field managers.

Certificate program requirements include:

  • Attendance at the 5-day training course
  • Passing an optional exam based on course content.
Participants that pass the exam receive a certificate of completion and are listed on this website as having completed the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Organic Land Care Certificate program requirements.

The  course offers:
Pesticide recertification credits
. Call for details.

The NJDEP Natural Turf and Landscape Management Certificate.
NOFA AOLCP credits applied for. Call for details.

Example past schedule and topics
Day 1
· Pesticide Risk, Toxicity and Environmental Contamination—Roy Meyer, Former Bureau Chief, NJDEP
· Physical, Chemical, Biological Aspects of Soil – Dan Kluchinski, Agricultural Agent, Rutgers Cooperative Extension
· Soil Food Web – Mike Kolenut, President, Lincoln Landscaping
· Compost and Compost Tea – Mike Kolenut, President, Lincoln Landscaping
Day 2
· Mulches – Nick Polanin, Agricultural Agent, Rutgers Cooperative Extension
· Incorporating Native Plants and Lawn Alternatives— Rick McCoy, President, Richard A. McCoy Horticultural Services
· History of Organics – Joseph Heckman, Extension Specialist in Soil Fertility, Rutgers University
· Water Resource Protection—Michele Bakacs, Environmental Agent, Rutgers Cooperative Extension
· Rain Gardens and Rainwater Harvesting—Amy Rowe, Environmental Agent, Rutgers Cooperative Extension
Day 3
· Disease Management, Trees and Shrubs– Charles Schmitt, Sr. Resource Extension Educator, Cornell University
· Wildlife Management— Madeline Flahive DiNardo, Agricultural Agent, Rutgers Cooperative Extension
· Sustainable Landscape Design —Jan-Marie Traynor, Professor Emeritus, County College of Morris
Day 4
· Lawn Installation, Renovation, and Management– James Murphy, Extension Specialist in Turf Grass Management, and Brad Park,  Sports Turf Research & Education Coordinator, Rutgers University
· Pest and Disease Management – Steve Rettke, Ornamental IPM Program Associate, Rutgers Cooperative Extension
· Planting and Plant Care, Larry Kuser, President, Fernbrook Nursery
Day 5
· Cultural Practices: Bringing it All Together-  Bill Hlubik, Agricultural Agent, Rutgers Cooperative Extension
· Business Management and Customer Communications– Chris Paul, President, Genesis Landscape Contractors, Inc.
· Organic Landscapers Panel Discussion– Barry Draycott, Keith Haitz, Rick McCoy, and Chris Paul
· Exam, pesticide recertification form distribution, program evaluation


Photo: teaching organic land care
  • Additional field trainings are offered throughout the year giving program participants the opportunity to see organic land care in practice and learn hands-on skills from Extension professionals and practitioners.
  • All who complete the program should also have a pesticide applicator license because commercial application of pest control products requires a license regardless of product type (organic or conventional).
  • Within one year of completing the program, businesses should be using separate application equipment for their organic and conventional treatments in order to avoid cross-contamination. In addition, it is suggested that businesses consider having a separate arm that deals with organic clients in order for clients to distinguish between the types of services offered.
  • It is the responsibility of program participants to notify RCE of any changes in contact information including website, phone, and email address.

Course curriculum includes the following topic areas:

  • Organic Land Care Principles
  • Soil
    • Physical, Chemical and Biological Aspects of Soil
    • Soil Testing and Interpreting Results
    • Using Soil Amendments, Compost, and Compost Tea
  • Using and Applying Mulches
  • Landscape Alternatives to Lawns
  • Pest and Disease Management for Trees and Shrubs
  • Water Resource Protection
    • Water Conservation and Management Technology
    • Rain Gardens and Rainwater Harvesting for Landscapes
  • Lawns
    • Low Maintenance Grass Species/Variety Selection
    • Installing and Renovating Lawns
    • Lawn Maintenance: Proper Mowing and Fertilization Practices
    • Lawn Pest and Disease Management
  • Proper Planting and Plant Care
  • Sustainable Landscape Design
  • Wildlife Management
  • Using Native Plants in the Home Landscape
  • Organic Land Care Business Practices: Marketing, Outreach, and Client Communication

  1. Rutgers
  2. Executive Dean of Agriculture and Natural Resources
  3. School of Environmental and Biological Sciences