Garden and Urban Agriculture Tools & Guides

Whether you are a spring chicken just getting into gardening or a seasoned green thumb, we have provided a round-up of some of our favorite resources to learn about how to garden and join the urban agriculture movement below. You can jump to a specific section using these links:

Learn How to Garden – Gardening 101wangari036
Educational Gardening Videos and Podcasts
Garden Resources for Educators
Free Services and Materials for Gardeners
Property Research Tools
Urban Agriculture Legislation

Learn How to Garden – Gardening 101

Looking to start your own garden? Here you can find guides for growing edible and non-edible plants, growing calendars, pest control information, and other online tools and resources for planning your garden or learning about gardening.

American Community Garden Association

Bug of the Week

Cornell Garden Based Learning

ILSR Growing Local Fertility: A Guide to Community Composting

Johnny’s Selected Seeds Growing Center

Southern Exposure Growing Guides and Library

UMD Extension Website


Educational Gardening Videos and Podcasts

These sites offer curated library of videos and series of podcast episodes on gardening so that you don’t have to weed through thousands of options to find helpful visual and audio resources.

Community of Gardeners

Good Gardening Videos

The Organic Gardener Podcast

Garden Resources for Educators

Are you an educator looking to teach a class, school group, or homeschool children about gardening? Want to try garden-based learning as an engaging way to educate others?  Here you’ll find garden lessons, materials and activities catered toward teachers.

Farm Raiser

FarmRaiser is a healthy fundraising platform that schools, community garden programs, and other organizations often use in conjunction with grants or other funding to support school gardens and nutrition programming.

DC Greens Farm to School Resource Summary

Guide,programs, resources and policy focused on Farm to School efforts curated by DC Greens.

The Edible Schoolyard Project

National edible education curriculum for   pre-kindergarten through high school.

Cornell Garden-Based Learning

Garden based resources and lessons for gardeners and educators developed by Cornell University.


Lesson plans and curricula for garden teachers.

Life Lab

Life Lab Science has been creating programs, curriculum and resources to support garden based learning since the early 1980’s.

Lunch Box

Tools and resources for school food change.

National Farm to School Network

An information, advocacy and networking hub for communities working to bring local food sourcing and food and agriculture education into school systems and early care and education settings.

Nature Works Everywhere

Nature Works Everywhere gives teachers, students and families everything they need to start exploring and understanding nature around the globe alongside Nature Conservancy scientists. The interactive lesson plans align to standards and can be customized for each classroom.

Landscape for Life

Website offers a complete kit of teaching resources can be used to conduct classes in sustainable home gardening. Materials available include a downloadable, illustrated teacher’s manual and four slide presentations that illustrate the curriculum.

Free Services and Materials for Gardeners

Who doesn’t like free stuff? These nonprofit and government services and materials are available free of charge to assist with gardening and urban agriculture!

Plant, Pest & Disease Identification

Ask a Gardening Expert – University of Maryland Extension

Have a plant or pest question?  Residents from the DC-metro area are welcome to email questions (including photos) for free assistance from professional certified horticulturalists.

Garden Safety and Hazard Prevention

Call Before You Dig

Planning on digging in new ground? It’s the law to call Miss Utility to check for utility lines first.

Maryland and DC –

Virginia –

Honey Bee Swarm Assistance

If you see a swarm of bees, please don’t harm them.  We need bee pollination to grow our food!  Instead, contact DC Beekeeper Alliance ASAP for removal.

Garden Assistance

Legal Assistance

The UDC Community Development Law Clinic offers free legal advice/assistance to selected non-profit organizations and small, urban entrepreneurs.  * Must be accepted as a client to receive legal assistance.

Water Assistance

Developing a garden that doesn’t have access to water?  If there’s a fire hydrant close by you can apply for a permit to use a DC Water hydrant meter to get water from a nearby fire hydrant.  Works best to fill up a cistern onsite to use as needed. *the hydrant meter is free but there is a $700 deposit, permit fees, backflow preventer purchase and certification costs, and a monthly water bill to pay.  But still cheaper than installing water onsite.

General Garden Supplies

DC Craigslist Free Site

Free garden supplies and plants daily postings.

Free Cycle DC

Free garden supplies and plants daily postings with email alerts.


Soil, Compost and  Mulch

DPR Community Compost Cooperative Network

50 new critter proof and smell proof compost bins to allow trained community members to compost food scraps with garden waste from DPR and partner DPR gardens to responsibly create high quality compost. To join each member must take an hour training and help process compost 1-hour a month.

Map of 50 Compost Cooperatives

DC Carbon Network

Tired of Sending Your Bags of Leaves and Shredded Paper to the Dump?  Check Out the DC Carbon Network.  Find a community garden and compost cooperative closest to you in need of carbon material and follow the instructions to drop off your extra carbon sources to be made into local compost.

Alexandria DPW

Free unscreened leaf and tree trimming mulch for Alexandria residents for pickup. Paid deliveries.

Arlington County Department of Environment

Free unscreened leaf and tree trimming mulch for Arlington residents for pickup. Paid deliveries.

Compost, mulch, and trunks/ logs for seating for School Gardens (For Teachers only)

OSSE (Office of the State Superintendent of Education) agreement with C&D Tree Company

OSSE (Office of the State Superintendent of Education) agreement with DC Water Biosolids

DC Water Biosoilds

DC Water creates clean Class A compost called “Bloom” from composted human waste mixed with mulch for free for schools and nonprofits.  There may be a delivery fee.

Contact for more details:

To buy Bloom please visit this link:

DPW Helping Hands

Free leafgro soil plus trash bags and tools for a park/community garden beautification day.

Fort Totten Transfer Station

Free unscreened leaf compost/mulch for DC residents for pickup

Dupont Park Horse Stables

Stables that have horse manure. Call ahead of time before picking up.

Rock Creek Park Horse Stables

Free Horse Manure.  Pickup only. Come before 9am and not on the weekends. Call ahead. Manure is mixed with sawdust. Bring a shovel.

Takoma Park Public Works

Free leaf mulch pickup.  Must pay for loading help or delivery.

Tree Service Companies

Many tree service companies will drop off free woodchips to local gardens and home owners.  You must be able to receive a full dump truck of woodchips and you must work with the tree service company’s timeline which can take a while or be last second depending on the job. Contact each a company first to see what is possible possibility.  When contacting each company PLEASE BE RESPECTFUL AT ALL TIMES!  This is not an advertised service and you are not a customer.

Plants and Seeds

Casey Trees Community Tree Planting (CTP) Program

Free community tree plantings of 10 or more trees

DOEE/Casey Trees Tree Rebate Program

$50 rebates for 15’ trees (fruit trees included) and $100 rebates for large canopy trees

Seed Companies

Many seed companies give away their last year seeds to non profits, schools and sometimes consumers. May need to pay shipping.  Explore each seed company’s website before contacting to see details. The DUG Network maintains a list of seed companies on our site here:

DUG Network Seed Providers

Property Research Tools

Want to set up a garden in an empty lot but don’t know where to start? We’ve found some amazing online tools and a few government offices that can  help you research property public records to figure out who to contact for permission to create a garden and put those empty spaces to good use!

DC Atlas Plus

This resource can help you identify the square, suffix and lot number of a parcel of land in DC, which allows you to learn more about the property through other public databases.

DC Property Quest

This resource can help you identify the square, suffix and lot number of a parcel of land in DC, which allows you to learn more about the property through other public databases.

DC Office of Tax and Revenue’s Real Property Assessment Database

Using a square, suffix and lot number for a parcel of land, you can research who was the last entity taxed by DC’s OTR. This is usually a good indicator of the current owner – but not always.

DC Office of Tax and Revenue’s Recorder of Deeds

If OTR’s Real Property Assessment Database does not provide useful or current information, their Recorder of Deeds maintains the official chain of title for properties in the city.

Office of Surveyors

Having trouble assessing the owner of a parcel of land after trying the resources above? The Office of Surveyors office can help you identify the owner of a plot of land when all else fails.

Urban Agriculture Legislation

Are you a policy wonk, journalist, or informed citizen trying to understand legislation, regulations, and policies affecting DC Urban Agriculture? We’ve brought together summaries and full-text of the some relevant ordinances here.

The Sustainable DC Act of 2012



The Sustainable DC Act of 2014



D.C. Urban Farming and Food Security Act of 2014



Urban Farming and Food Security Amendment Act of 2015 (Not Passed)


The Cottage Food Act of 2013



Animals in the Classroom Act of 2014




Are you looking for nearby gardens or garden resources in your backyard or across DC? Several organizations have created some excellent maps focusing on different kinds of gardens and garden-related resources around the city. Oh, and don’t forget to check out our very own DUG Network organization map!

DC Gardens’ Public Institution Gardens

DC Gardens has provided a map of the major institutionally-supported public gardens in the District region. These gardens tend to primarily be made up of ornamental and non-edible plants.

Neighborhood Farm Initiative’s Community Garden Map

Neighborhood Farm Initiative can help you find community gardens that are near you through their community garden maps.

Carbon Network Live Map

Are you looking for somewhere to deposit your raked leaves, seedless grass clippings or wood chips in an eco-friendly way that can help fuel DC’s community gardens? Check out the Carbon Network Live Map below to find a garden near your that is accepting carbon-rich materials for their compost and gardens.

DC DPR Compost Cooperative Live Map

Do you want to reduce the waste that you send to the landfill by composting? DC’s District of Parks and Recreations offers a Compost Cooperative program for DC residents. Learn more about how to join the cooperative and explore the map below to find a compost station near you.

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