By Tony Johnson
University of Georgia
Your landscape, after all, is a big investment. And it raises the value of your property. Fortunately, Georgia now has a number of certified landscape professionals through the Georgia Certified Landscape Professional program.
The GCLP is endorsed and sponsored by the Georgia Green Industry Association, Metro Atlanta Landscape and Turf Association and Georgia Turfgrass Association. It's run by the University of Georgia Center for Urban Agriculture in Griffin, Ga.
Twice a year, landscapers enrolled in the GCLP come to Griffin to the UGA Research and Education Garden, where they're tested on their skills in landscape practices and plant selection.
Making the gradeIf they pass these tests, they become certified landscape technicians. To become certified landscape professionals, they must pass written exams, too, on landscape management, installation and pest diagnosis.
But the learning doesn't stop there. Each CLP is required to become recertified every three years, mainly through trade shows, workshops, seminars and other educational programs.
Earning these credentials identifies them as the best in their profession. A homeowner who hires a CLP is choosing someone who has a working knowledge and mastery of all aspects of landscape management.
All CLPs are tested on using landscape design plans, selecting plants for landscape conditions, identifying plants and properly planting and caring for landscape plants. They must be competent in identifying and diagnosing pests, applying pesticides, using equipment and evaluating installation and maintenance jobs.
Testing covers the best management practices, too, for reducing nonpoint-source pollutants from home landscapes and for water conservation in landscape systems.
Find a CLPThere are now 125 CLPs in Georgia. They're scattered from Blairsville to Augusta to Tybee Island to Tifton. Most are in or near Metro Atlanta. Another 300 landscape professionals, however, are registered for the program and are now testing to become certified.
If you want a CLP for your landscape needs, check the listing on the "Georgia Certified Landscape Professional Program" Web site at www.ces.uga.edu/GCLPP.htm.
The same site provides contact information for landscapers who want to become certified and join the ranks of the best of their profession.
(Tony Johnson is the Research and Education Garden horticulturist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)