Explore Your Next Course

With new courses launching throughout the year, Fine Gardening Online Courses help you make the most of your landscape. Our roster of courses from gardening's most trusted instructors are sure to help you create inspired, thriving outdoor spaces that are beautiful, resilient and a joy to be in.

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On-demand Courses

The Ultimate Guide to Container-Garden Design

If you are ready to take your container design to the next level, join us for this course with Barbara Libner, who has been designing stunning containers professionally for over two decades. Barbara will walk you through every step of creating the perfect container as she shares her tips and techniques for better plant combinations, including numerous examples from her own designs and recipes you can follow on your own. Explore the concepts of color, texture, balance, and repetition as you learn to transform your own containers from ordinary to extraordinary. You can view each class on demand and then dive into an online forum where you can share ideas with other course participants and get your questions answered by Barbara herself.

In this course, you will learn how to:
  • Determine what kind of approach is right for your space and your aesthetic
  • Choose a container with the best color and material for your space
  • Develop a planting color scheme that thrills
  • Get the most bang for your buck when shopping for plants
  • Choose between seasonal or year-round interest
  • Get your plants off to the best start when planting
  • Maintain your creation for maximum longevity
  • Plan for seasonal swaps to keep the show going

Lesson 1 This initial class will get you familiarized—or refreshed—on the basics of designing a container garden. Barbara will cover why it’s aesthetically important to add containers to your garden and how you can use them to improve your landscape and/or complement your home. She will also dig into choosing the best containers and soil mixes and will explain how to assess the conditions in your garden that will determine what plants will thrive in your containers.
Lesson 2 Have you always wondered why the container gardens in magazines look so much better than the ones you create at home? In this class, Barbara will share the secrets to putting plants together for incredible visual appeal. She will cover choosing color palettes, ways to add contrast and interest, and how to use foliage to maximize the composition’s impact. Finally, all that theory will be put to practical use with Barbara’s special formula for the perfect container: the Fabulous Five.
Lesson 3 This class will teach you how to keep your containers looking stunning for months by choosing the best plants and caring for them as they grow and develop. Barbara will also cover the best ways to embrace seasonality—how to choose plants for multiseason interest and how to swap out plants in a cost-efficient manner. Barbara will also cover features that keep a container looking beautiful every month of the year (yes, even in winter).

About the Presenter

Barbara Libner accidentally turned a lifelong passion for plants and design into a career when a seasonal nursery job became a full-time, decades-long journey of botanical discovery. She specializes in four-season containers for an array of different climates. When not designing containers or being a general plant nerd, she is the lead visual merchandiser for Ravenna Gardens, an independent urban garden center in Seattle. Barbara is a true artist who works with color, texture, and habit to craft potted masterpieces. Her background in art history has trained her to identify and accentuate certain design elements, prioritizing the form of each plant she works with over its color. In fact, if you ask Barbara, it’s the juxtaposition of the different types of foliage in a container planting that gives it long-lasting appeal.   Register Now!

Foundations of Water-Wise Garden Design with Kim Toscano

It’s easy to feel helpless in the face of unprecedented drought, water restrictions, and soaring temperatures—but we gardeners are not powerless. With careful planning we can create beautiful, drought-resilient gardens that thrive no matter what the weather may bring. And by applying water-conservation techniques in our backyards, we not only lessen our dependency on supplemental water but also help to preserve and protect natural waterways downstream. In this online course, you will learn how to make the most of rainfall by implementing strategies that keep rainwater on-site. You will discover ways to minimize the need for supplemental irrigation while building drought resiliency in the landscape. The lessons learned will give you the confidence to create sustainable spaces in your yard, whether you are landscaping a newly built house or renovating an older garden.

Topics covered include: 
  • Understanding and managing your soil type 
  • Making the most of rainfall 
  • Planning efficient irrigation 
  • Dealing with watering restrictions 
  • Finding drought-resistant plants 
  • Choosing alternatives to water-hungry lawns 

About Your Instructor

Kimberly Toscano is an accomplished horticulturist with an eye on design. Formally trained in horticulture, environmental science, and entomology, she is interested in all things edible as well as garden design and landscaping for wildlife. Kim takes a holistic approach to gardening and landscaping, working in harmony with the natural environment. This includes organic and sustainable gardening practices, careful management of water, and enhancing biodiversity in the landscape.  Before establishing a career in garden writing and consultation, Kim served as writer and host for Oklahoma Gardening, a weekly PBS television program produced by the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service. In this role, she shared her expertise through more than 1,000 video segments covering all aspects of gardening, environmental stewardship, and sustainable living. To support her programming, Kim designed over a dozen gardens that were installed at The Botanic Garden at Oklahoma State University, including a formal terrace, an organic vegetable garden, and themed ornamental plantings. 

Seed Starting Made Simple: A Step-by-Step Guide with Niki Jabbour

Starting plants from seed opens a world of possibilities to gardeners of all skill levels. Many vegetables, annual flowers, and even perennial plants can be started from seed using a few basic supplies and easy-to-master techniques. This can be an economical way to fill garden space and enjoy a much wider variety of plants than you could find in any nursery. In this course, horticulturist Niki Jabbour will share tips and tricks from her decades of starting seeds. After covering the basics, she will delve into more advanced topics such as timing and stratification. Participants will learn about which tools and supplies the pros recommend to make seed-starting easier, and how to set up a simple DIY lighting system. Build your gardening skills and enjoy the satisfying feeling of growing plants from scratch with this fun, fast-paced course.

You’ll get advice on:

  • Which seeds to start indoors versus outdoors
  • How to get the timing right
  • The ins and outs of building your own seed-starting setup
  • In-depth lighting instructions (including LED insights)
  • Mixing custom seed-starting soil mixes
  • Hardening off and planting out
  • Troubleshooting techniques for when things go wrong

Your Instructor

Niki Jabbour is the award-winning author of four books: The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener, Groundbreaking Food Gardens, Veggie Garden Remix, and Growing Under Cover. She is a rare two-time winner of the prestigious American Horticultural Society Book Award and a frequent lecturer for various horticultural institutions around North America. Niki is a contributor to numerous publications, including Fine Gardening. She was also the host and executive producer of a popular radio show, The Weekend Gardener, for 15 years and is now the garden expert on Canada’s CBC Radio. When she’s not writing, speaking, or broadcasting about food gardening, Niki is harvesting vegetables year-round from her 3,000-square-foot urban garden in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Register Now!

Flourishing in the Shade Garden with Ed Lyon

Shade is one of the largest challenges facing home gardeners—especially the novice and inexperienced—but even seasoned gardeners can struggle with it.

In this immersive online course, you will learn how to make the dark areas of your yard shine. Instructor Ed Lyon started his journey into ornamental gardening almost 30 years ago. Across that expanse of time, he owned four properties—all with shaded areas—so he was compelled to get serious about addressing shade issues to create display beds. He also became passionate about helping to educate other gardeners about succeeding in the shade.

What You Will Learn

In this course, you will learn how to build or improve a shade garden. In addition to providing guidance on design and how to select the right plants, Ed will share his broad experiences, including mistakes, to give you the knowledge you need to address the dark spots in your yard with confidence. Whether you are a new or experienced gardener, you will learn that throwing shade is a good thing in gardening.

Plants for a Better Planet

Can plants really save the planet? The presenters of this three-part course think so. with Richard Hawke, Sue Milliken, Kelly Dodson, and Kelly D. Norris

Earth-friendly gardening practices focus on minimizing the negative impact that gardening can have on the environment. This can include using sustainable gardening techniques such as composting, reducing or eliminating the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, and conserving water.
But it also means being incredibly selective about the plants you choose to use in your landscape. Planting native species, which are adapted to the local climate and soil conditions, is an important aspect of earth-friendly gardening. Using ornamental plants that are truly low-maintenance or provide valuable resources to wildlife is another option for gardening in a greener way. It’s also essential to the planet as a whole to protect rare and endangered species that are under threat in their native regions.Can plants truly save the planet? The presenters of this three-part course think so, and they will share exactly why and how they think you can help make that happen.
The course includes over 3 hours of video lessons.  

Sustainability in the Garden

Join us as we take a deep dive into the complex and sometimes controversial gardening topic of sustainability. This on-demand lecture series features four separate classes related to the overall theme. Each highly engaging session is modeled after a college course and is taught by a leading expert in the field. With each class you’ll receive not only in-depth instruction but also informative handouts to help you understand and visualize the concepts being discussed. Each class is offered on-demand, so you can view it at your leisure.   Topics that will be covered include:

  • Ideas for sustainable garden design
  • Naturalistic approaches to landscape planning
  • Native alternatives for common plants
  • Pollinator-friendly selections for every region
  • Habitat conservation at the backyard level
  • Steps for enhancing soil sustainably
  • Conditional improvements for successful native-plant integration

Garden Design Ideas That Work with Garden Masterclass

Class 1: Reimagining the Mixed Border, Noel Kingsbury

The “mixed border” is arguably the unsung hero of planting design. Combining small trees, shrubs, perennials, climbers, bulbs, and even annuals has long been the mainstay of many of the best gardens in the world. A mixed border design provides the best opportunity for a long season of interest, and research has shown that it offers the best opportunities for supporting biodiversity, too. In this class we’ll look at the different elements of this blended style and how they can be brought together. Additionally, we’ll discuss layered plantings (in both a structural and seasonal sense) using a woodland edge habitat as a natural case study to reveal why this approach works both visually and ecologically. This planting method satisfies the love many gardeners have for truly making the most of plant diversity close to home. Noel Kingsbury is internationally known as an innovator, writer, and teacher in the fields of gardening and planting design.  

Class 2: The Herbaceous Design Process: Conception, Production and Refinement, Elliot Forsyth

Take an in-depth look at how to design, plan, lay out, and finesse perennial plantings. Your instructor, Elliot Forsyth, is known internationally for his skillfully designed and maintained perennial and seasonal plantings throughout Scotland and beyond. Here, he’ll explain how to use a sense of place to unpack a framework of design fundamentals and what the critical aspects are when formulating a planting plan. Elliott discusses the importance of a clear theme and demonstrates the method he employs to create it. Using specific examples, he takes you through a step-by-step process: exploring plant selection, combining plants effectively, and planning, laying out, and refining perennial plantings. This course will teach you how to create a concise and masterful exposition, using a detailed yet approachable process. Elliott Forsyth is an experienced and creative horticulturist who specializes in naturalistic perennial design. He trained at the RHS Wisley, the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, and SAC Auchincruive.  

Class 3: Planting the Smaller Urban Garden, Annie Guilfoyle

Planting smaller, urban gardens can sometimes be a really challenging and somewhat daunting task. What should you include and what is OK to leave out when space is very limited? In this class, award-winning designer and RHS Chelsea Flower Show Silver Medal winner Annie Guilfoyle will focus on the best way to research and select plants that will work in the smaller spaces while offering as much interest as possible. She’ll outline the importance of seasonal interest and offer concrete how-to advice, especially when designing front-facing gardens. Additionally, Annie will address often overlooked aspects in small-space gardening, like the inclusion of bulbs, which are a great way of packing interest into urban pocket gardens. And finally, you will get a tutorial on designing and drawing up a planting plan. Annie Guilfoyle is an award-winning designer and an RHS Chelsea Flower Show Silver Medal winner.

The Essential Guide to Landscape Design with Courtney Olander

The landscape is important for any home. It should invite, guide, and welcome friends and guests. It should accentuate the home and its key architectural elements and, ideally, hide its flaws. To create such a space requires detailed planning and informed design decisions. In this in-depth course, professional landscape designer Courtney Olander will illustrate how to use basic design strategies to create a front yard that is fun and functional, a space that not only makes you smile when you arrive but also adds value to your home. Sign up now!


What You Will Learn

Courtney will walk you through her design process and offer professional advice on how to create thoughtful gardens from the ground up, spaces that are inspiring, inviting, and unique to you and your home. Her course will help you master basic landscape design principles.

Courtney will share past projects, case studies, and plenty of before and after images and stories of successful transformations. You’ll come away with a solid understanding of basic garden design principles and be able to apply them to any situation. You'll also gain the perspective you need to distinguish between the tasks you can do yourself and those that require a professional.

The course includes 4+ hours of video lessons

There is a Q&A section in the discussion forum where you can ask questions. Courtney will be checking regularly for posts and will answer questions in the forum. She also will host a live Q&A session at the end of the course.


Meet Your Instructor

Courtney Olander is a professional landscape designer and owner of Olander Garden Design (olandergardendesign.com) in Washington.
As a professional landscape designer, Courtney is particularly interested in creating thoughtful outdoor spaces that reflect the homeowner’s lifestyle and interests—all while maintaining a healthy, ecologically minded environment. Her interest and experience in market research drives Courtney to stay current with new trends in the outdoor living and horticultural industries, including design, products, materials, and new plant introductions. In addition to her full-time job, Courtney maintains memberships in the Association of Professional Landscape Designers and the Northwest Horticultural Society. She is recognized as a Certified Professional Horticulturalist through the Washington State Nursery and Landscape Association. Courtney also enjoys writing about garden design, contributing to Houzz, Fine Gardening, and the Northwest Horticultural Society’s quarterly publication Garden Notes. Her client’s gardens have appeared in The Seattle Times Pacific NW Magazine and 1889 Washington's Magazine.  

Sign up now!