Billy Goodnick

Billy Goodnick

“That was too much fun,” is a typical response to Billy Goodnick’s presentations and workshops, as is: “I thought there’d be a two-drink cover charge for the entertainment….and I learned a lot.”

As an award-winning designer who worked his way up from swinging a pick to landscape architect, his presentations are enriched by years of professional design practice combined earlier life as an entertainer.

Billy turns on his stand-up comic timing and rock drummer’s attitude to keep audiences attentive and smiling. He is adept at working “live” at nurseries and event centers surrounded by plants, dispensing core design principles in a presentation resembling a fast-paced improv session. But he’s also engaging in a more traditional setting, armed with eye-catching and often humorous slides to accompany his talks.

Billy has honed his mantra of “beautiful, useful, sustainable gardens” to homeowners, master gardeners, and college students for decades. He shows audiences how to design like pros while instilling a message of planet-friendly principles. There is a lot of useful information – but it’s wrapped in an upbeat, inventive delivery. This refreshing and unexpected approach has won him fans from his speaking engagements across the country. (More at GreatGardenSpeakers.com)

Born in Brooklyn, he was transplanted to LA at age eight, studied music, and became an in-demand Hollywood studio drummer. “As fate would have it, I stumbled upon the exquisite art of bonsai,” he reports. “I turned my life on a dime, dropped my drumsticks, and started a journey into the world of plants.”

For 22 years, he was the City Landscape Architect for scenic Santa Barbara. His horticultural career has also included nursery sales, as well as landscape maintenance and installation. He continues to provide customized design coaching along the Central Coast and was the winner of 2005 Santa Barbara Beautiful Awards for both residential and park projects, and awards from both the California State Architects Office and the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Fine Gardening Magazine features his column “Garden Workshop” and his blog “Cool Green Gardens.”  He also writes bi-weekly SoCal-centric posts for Edhat.com, and contributes to 805 Living Magazine, as well as freelancing for other publications.  Billy co-hosts Garden Wise Guys, a regional sustainable landscaping show that aspires, he says “to the sophistication of the Three Stooges,” and is a founding member of the Lawn Reform Coalition, a group helping gardeners rethink the siren song of the “perfect” lawn.  Billy Goodnick also still drums for Santa Barbara-based retro-rock band King Bee.

Billy’s in-the-works garden design book, Yards: Turn Any Outdoor Space Into the Garden of Your Dreams, will be released March 2013.

“Everyone can have a garden that’s beautiful, serves their needs, and treads lightly on the planet,” he says. “Sustainable landscape design is a serious subject, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a few laughs along the way.”

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