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The Certified Aesthetic Pruner designation indicates a high level of proficiency in applying the art and science of aesthetic pruning in a variety of situations. CAPs are adept pruners who understand the biology of woody plants as well as design and art principles.

APA certification has 4 sections.

1. The first section is the application and portfolio.

2. The second section is the written exam. The written exam verifies the applicant's knowledge in six main areas: horticultural and arboricultural practices, legal and ethical issues, and art and design principles. Those who have successfully completed courses in Basic Horticulture, Plant Identification, Arboriculture and Aesthetic Pruning should find the exam challenging, but passable.

3. The third section is the in-person verbal exam. The verbal exam involves a walk through of a garden with three members of the Certification Committee. Applicants are asked to identify plants and are questioned about the garden's design and how it would be better served through the practice of aesthetic pruning. Additionally, specific questions regarding aesthetic pruning will be asked by the committee members.

4. The fourth section is an in-person hands-on pruning demonstration. Applicants are provided with plant material to prune in front of three members of the Certification Committee. Committee members may insert additional circumstances and scenarios to add context and complexity to the assignment. For instance, the committee may ask the applicant to regard the plant material as growing near a certain garden feature, or that it is a particular time of year, etc. Applicants are expected to evaluate the plants material's possibilities and devise a plan or plans for developing the plant material accordingly. After explaining their plan to the committee, applicants will prune the plant material and provide such commentary on their work as they can. The hands-on demonstration is evaluated in four main areas: Tree Assessment, Quality of Plan, Pruning Skills and Aesthetics.

Download the CAP application

CAP Application.pdf

5627 Telegraph Avenue, Suite 171, Oakland CA 94609


The Aesthetic Pruners Association is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization.

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