Meet Don Sutton, a Desert Landscape School student. Don started in the Desert Landscape School after receiving the enrollment as a gift from his wife. Growing up on a ranch in Wyoming, gardening was instilled in Don at an early age. He left it for many years as he went to college and began working in administration. Don moved to Arizona and eventually retired. In retirement, Don’s love for gardening resurfaced, as he became a Master Gardener, started volunteering at the Extension Office and the Garden answering plant and gardening related questions from the public, presenting at the Home & Garden Show and helping interested elementary schools start gardens. Don Sutton

The Desert Landscape School has provided educational programming on all aspects of desert landscape installation and maintenance. Now, under the new format, individuals are able to take specialized tracks and focus on their professional development needs and personal interests.

“The Desert Landscape School has helped me immensely with answering questions from the public at the Extension office, the Garden’s plant hotline and at the Home & Garden Show. After my first class, I was motivated to continue in the School to gain more knowledge, but also because it was such a great experience. The class was well put together, there was good expertise among the instructors and really great discussions with my classmates,” says Sutton.

The Desert Landscape School program consists of six separate certificate programs. When students successfully complete the attendance and assessment requirements for each of the six programs, they earn the Desert Landscape School credential. With two certificates completed, Don is thrilled to continue on to receive the credential.

“What separates this program from other gardening or landscaping programs is its focus on desert-adapted plants, the expertise the Garden can provide and the hands-on aspect,” says Sutton. 

The Desert Landscape School is unique in that students learn directly from Garden staff and other experts in the field. In addition, the School provides an installation program and Installation Programworks with community partners such as Habitat for Humanity® where students get the chance to install a complete landscape. In 2017, the Desert Landscape School will continue to be distinctive with the addition of a Learning Lab to provide a more extensive hands-on learning experience and the launch of Desert Landscape School: A Guide to Desert Landscaping and Maintenance that will serve as the main study material for students in the School.      

“The new Learning Lab and the Guide will provide another dimension to learning. I think the Desert Landscape School is already one of the hidden gems of the Valley, but these additions will elevate the program to a whole new level,” says Sutton. 

Registration for the Desert Landscape School opens early February. Learn more by visiting