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Colorado Master Gardener Program in Larimer County

Colorado Master Gardeners (CMGs) are members of our community who love their lawns, trees, shrubs, flowers, and vegetables. They are enthusiastic to learn and share their knowledge with others. Master Gardeners are life-long learners who complete an initial training that covers various aspects of horticulture, with the intent to teach others while volunteering in our community. Their goal is to help foster successful gardening with Larimer County residents. Read the 2018 CMG Impact Report.

How to become a Master Gardener

Applications are available in the fall for people interested in becoming a Master Gardener. Each applicant must complete the application, a background check, an in-person interview, a brief entrance exam, and reference check. The process is competitive, since more applicants apply than can be accepted. However, everyone who applies will be interviewed and fairly assessed. If you are not accepted as a CMG, you have the option to take the training as a Colorado Gardener Certificate (CGC) trainee (learn more below).

The cost for Colorado Master Gardeners is $170 with a commitment to complete 50 hours of volunteer service the first year you’re in the program.

Please note: Applications are no longer being accepted for 2020. The process is closed. If you wish to be added to the 2021 mailing list, please contact the Extension Office at 970-498-6000 or email Alison O’Connor with your contact information (

What will you learn?

If selected as a Master Gardener, volunteers complete approximately 60 hours of college-level horticulture instruction covering topics such as:

  • How plants grow
  • Soils, fertilizers, and amendments
  • Turf management
  • Plant pathology and IPM
  • Tree planting and care

Classes are a mix of in-person instruction with labs and small group activities and online learning modules. Approximately half of the classes are taught in person and half online. There are supplemental readings and homework associated with each learning unit.

What obligation do Master Gardeners have?

During your Apprentice year (your first year in the program), you will complete 50 hours of volunteer time between April and October. Volunteer activities vary and can include:

  • Staffing a Q&A booth at a garden center, farmers’ market, or special events
  • Assisting with demonstration gardens
  • Writing gardening articles for local publications
  • Providing one-on-one education to residents
  • Responding to phone calls or emails about gardening questions
  • Presenting programs to community groups

Each year you remain an active Master Gardener, you’ll commit to completing 24 volunteer hours and 12 hours of continuing education.

What if you don’t have the time to invest as a volunteer?

For those not interested in volunteering, consider the Colorado Gardener Certificate program. See below.

Colorado Gardener Certificate Program

Adults interested in taking the Colorado Master Gardener training without a volunteer obligation may enroll to audit the same courses. This option is the Colorado Gardener Certificate program and includes the same college-level training available for a higher fee in-lieu-of a volunteer requirement. After you complete training, you’ll receive a certificate that you may use for professional or personal promotion. You will not hold the title “Colorado Master Gardener” as this is reserved for CSU Extension volunteers only.

Due to classroom space limitations, training is filled for 2020. Please contact our office to receive information for the 2021 training programs.


Have a yard or garden question? 

Email a Master Gardener anytime!


Alison O’Connor, PhD