chevron-up minus

About Smartscape

Smartscape is a comprehensive, research-based training program that instructs landscape and irrigation professionals in the fundamentals of design, installation, and maintenance of sustainable, desert-adapted landscapes and irrigation systems. Classes are taught by local industry experts, academics, and practitioners.

Smartscape was launched in both the Tucson and Phoenix areas in 1994 to increase water efficiency in Arizona’s urban corridor.

The program was collaboratively developed by Tucson Water, the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association (AMWUA), the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, the Arizona Nursery Association, the Arizona Landscape Contractors Association, and industry representatives.

Unlike water use indoors that is recycled and reused, water used in landscapes cannot be recaptured and used again. Landscape and irrigation professionals influence water use through the design, installation, water scheduling, and maintenance of these landscapes. Smartscape has provided foundational training for thousands of professionals and influenced landscape choices and outdoor water use in the Phoenix and Tucson areas for more than 25 years.

Smartscape helps landscape and irrigation professionals move ahead of the competition and stay up to date on the latest industry trends, research, and practices. With informative classes, networking and marketing opportunities, Smartscape is an affordable way for professionals to strengthen their practice and innovate their business.

Smartscape empowers landscape and irrigation professionals to build skills that will increase landscape water use efficiency, providing an opportunity to distinguish themselves from their competition, to provide their customers with quality service, and to take personal responsibility for a resource critical to the industry.

Instructors & Personnel

Smartscape instructors are local industry experts, academics, and practitioners.

Maricopa County

Kirti Mathura

Program Coordinator, Senior, Horticulturist

Kirti worked at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix in different capacities for over 17 years, after serving six years as a Garden volunteer. She also worked as the horticulturist for César Mazier Landscaping & Consulting, and Singh Farms. Most currently she is the Program Coordinator for the Smartscape training with the U of A Cooperative Extension, teaches Plant Materials for the Landscape Architecture Program at ASU’s School of Design, and landscaping and gardening workshops for several municipalities in the Phoenix area. Kirti has a B. A. in Botany & Environmental Biology from the University of Montana.

She is involved in various local and national plant organizations and enjoys sharing gardening information in many different formats. Kirti is the author of The Arizona Low Desert Flower Garden, published by Gibbs Smith, Publisher, and has contributed to landscaping and gardening publications, including Desert Landscaping for Beginners, published by Arizona Master Gardener Press.

Pima County

Karen Hanshaw

Program Manager

Karen has over 20 years of experience coordinating education programs. Her focus is in providing excellent leadership. She works to ensure that Smartscape meets the educational needs of the professional landscape community and residential water users in Pima County regarding best management practices for sustainable landscapes and efficient irrigation. She enjoys working with the Smartscape staff, instructors, Tucson Water and other partners (including Smartscape in Maricopa County, our “sister program” and Arizona Municipal Water Users Association) to provide excellent water conservation and education programming.  Her objective is to facilitate expansion of Smartscape into other counties and increase its reach so that “we will have an even more significant impact on landscape water conservation in Arizona”. Karen places great importance on collaboration and understands the nuances of developing and maintaining collaborative relationships.

Pima County

Debbie Lesko

Office Specialist, Senior

Debbie is excited to be part of the Smartscape team. She previously worked for the University of Arizona at the School of Art as a Graduate Program Coordinator. She enjoys the contact with community members who are essential to the Smartscape program.

Pima County

Juan Barba

Advanced Smartscape Instructor

Juan is a Practicing and Consulting Arborist and the Owner of Juan J. Barba & Associates, Consulting Arboricultural Services. Climbing trees professionally since 1977 and based around a B.S. from the University of Arizona in Landscape & Environmental Horticulture, Juan has vast knowledge of southwestern environmental, cultural, disease and insect problems. He has lectured around the country and has taught at Pima College and presented at the University of Arizona and at several innovative landscape programs for contractors and designers.

Pima County

Jessie Byrd

Smartscape Instructor

Jessie is the Native Plant Nursery Manager for Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation, which specializes in growing and salvaging native plant species for public projects.  A Tucson native, she has earned a Master of Landscape Architecture from the University of Arizona and a BA in Biology from Bryn Mawr College.  She is the president of the Tucson Chapter of the Arizona Native Plant Society.  Jessie believes that using native plants in urban landscapes can help encourage biodiversity while also significantly reducing long-term maintenance inputs.

Pima County

Carianne Campbell

Smartscape Instructor

Carianne Campbell moved to Tucson in 1998 after receiving her undergraduate degree in Botany from Prescott College, specifically because she loves the native plants of the Sonoran Desert. Since then, she has become a well-known advocate for native plant conservation and restoration, and has conducted projects large and small throughout the region. She currently serves on the Board of the Society for Ecological Restoration, Southwest Chapter, and in the past she has served as the President of the Tucson Chapter of the Arizona Native Plant Society, as well as the Wildlife Habitat Representative on the City of Tucson’s Landscape Advisory Committee. She has worked in the government, business, and non-profit sectors over the past 20 years, and recently has started her own consulting firm, Strategic Habitat Enhancements, LLC.

Pima County

José Cano

Smartscape and Smartscape en Espanol Instructor

José Cano assists with professional program development and outreach, especially Spanish outreach.  He graduated from the Universidad de Chihuahua Mexico with a major in Fruit Science in 1973 and worked 4 years in the department of Agriculture in Aguascalientes Mexico.  He moved to the USA in 1977 and worked in several nurseries in plant production in California and Oregon before moving to Arizona in 1994. He recently retired from his Maintenance Supervisor position with Pima County Natural Resources Parks & Recreation, where he worked for 20+ years, and maintains his professional certifications in arboriculture and nursery. José loves to meet with people throughout the community and promote the Smartscape program.

Maricopa County

Doug Donahue

Ewing Irrigation

Doug Donahue is an Account Manager for Ewing Irrigation. He provides irrigation supplies and solutions to large commercial landscape and maintenance contractors, as well as municipalities. Doug’s territory includes the greater Phoenix metropolitan area and northern Arizona.

Doug has over 40 years of green industry experience, including 17 years with Rain Bird. He is a self-proclaimed “irrigation junkie.” His passions are water management and customer service. Finally, he loves being able to “give back” to the industry, teaching irrigation to various groups.

Pima County

Jeffrey Gilbert

Smartscape and Advanced Smartscape Instructor

Jeffrey has over 40 years of experience with landscape management. Worked in city parks performing recreational sports field maintenance and irrigation management. Has worked as a landscape and irrigation contractor. Graduated from Colorado State University with a Bachelor of Science in landscape horticulture in 1988 and from the University of Arizona with a Master of Science in Soil, Water and Environmental Science in 2000. For the past 25 years has worked at the University of Arizona doing research on turfgrass and irrigation management. Also, works with the city of Tucson water department as an irrigation consultant for commercial properties. Primary interests are in landscape water management and irrigation system optimization.

Maricopa County

Jeff Lee

Town of Gilbert

Jeff Lee began his green industry career in 1983 in Minnesota. Tired of the winters Jeff moved to Arizona in 1985 continuing in the landscape industry focusing mainly on irrigation. In 1996 Jeff worked at Rainbird assisting end use customers, contractors, and distributors in troubleshooting irrigation systems. Jeff was trained in the Golf Services central control hardware and software to assist those users. In 1998 Jeff transitioned to water conservation with the City of Mesa working with internal and external water users. In 2006 Jeff moved over to the Town of Gilbert Water Conservation office. The programs he has been involved in have helped Internal water users, residents, and businesses save a cumulative 1.9 billion gallons of water. Jeff received his Arizona Certified Landscape Professional certificate in 1994, became a Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditor in 1999, and passed the Certified Backflow Tester test in 2000.

Maricopa County

Judy Mielke

RLA, Logan Simpson Design

Judy Mielke is a Senior Landscape Architect with Logan Simpson Design in Tempe. She has more than 35 years of experience designing landscapes for projects as diverse as parks, custom residential, freeways, and resorts. Judy’s particular strength is in plant materials. She is author of the award-winning book “Native Plants For Southwestern Landscapes” and has taught courses in Landscape Plant Materials and Arizona Native Plants at ASU. Judy is a Certified Arborist and a Certified Water Harvesting Practitioner. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Horticulture from Washington State University and she worked for nine years as a horticulturist at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix before returning to school for her Master of Environmental Planning from ASU. Judy is an avid home gardener whose interests include wildflowers, flowers for cutting, vegetables, and succulents.

Maricopa County

Raul Puente-Martinez

Smartscape en Espanol Instructor

Raul has worked at the Desert Botanical Garden as the Curator of Living Collections and as a Research Botanist since 2001. He is responsible for curatorial aspects such as plant acquisition, maintaining the database and mapping of the gardens’ Living Collection.

His education includes an undergraduate degree in Agronomy with a specialty in Botany from the Universidad Autonoma de San Luis Potosi, Mexico. He obtained his Masters in Science degree at Arizona State University.

His research interest has been the systematics of the genus Opuntia (prickly-pears) in northern Mexico, particularly in the states of San Luis Potosi, Coahuila, and Sonora, Guatemala and Chile. He is also working on a taxonomic revision of the genus Nopalea, a unique group of tropical prickly-pears from Mexico and Central America which are pollinated by hummingbirds. His studies are based on fieldwork as well as morphology, chromosome numbers and pollen morphology, among other techniques. He has been a collaborator for the Vascular Plants of Arizona project, at Arizona State University and has written various family treatments as well as done a number of plant illustrations. His work at Desert Botanical Garden has taken him to visit deserts of the world looking for plants with low water requirements for the collection as well as to test their potential for introduction in desert landscapes. Raul also took the Smartscape course in 1995.

Pima County

Helen Sanchez

Smartscape en Espanol Instructor

Originally from Costa Rica, since she was a child, she had a passion for agriculture and graduated in Agronomy Engineering. Since then, she has dedicated herself to increasing her knowledge in the industry. She moved to New York in 2003 and then to Arizona with the intention of learning about plants in different climates.  She has been working in the Green Industry for 17 years, in different sectors such as propagation, nursery and landscaping.

She is currently part of the Smartscape program en Español and is very happy to be able to share her experiences with the Hispanic community.

Maricopa County, Pima County

Dr. Ursula Schuch

UA Plant Sciences

Dr. Ursula Schuch is a University of Arizona Extension Specialist and Professor with responsibility in environmental horticulture. Dr. Schuch received a Ph.D. in Horticulture and a MS in Forest Science from Oregon State University. She presents seminars and workshops for the green industry and conducts research to address issues in horticulture production and landscape management. Her research interests include irrigation requirements of landscape plants, abiotic stress, and minimizing inputs in nursery production and landscape management.

Maricopa County

Shannon Scott

AAA Landscape

Shannon is a Tucson native but has lived in Phoenix since 1990.  He has 44 years in the landscape industry, 42 of those years with AAA Landscape.  He is ACLP certified, OPM certified and is a certified arborist.  His time in the industry has been split between landscape management, landscape construction and arbor care. He is currently the director of education at AAA Landscape and an instructor for the Arizona Certified Landscape Professional program.

Pima County

Greg Starr

Smartscape Instructor

Greg graduated from the University of Arizona in 1979 with a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture and in 1985 with a Master of Science in Horticulture with a special emphasis on botany. The author of several books, Greg has traveled extensively in Mexico and the southwestern United States to study the plants for their potential landscape use in desert regions of the world. He has also traveled to South Africa in search of potential landscape plants for southern Arizona. Greg is also the owner of Starr Nursery, specializing in Agaves and related plants as well as other succulents and new introductions from arid and semi-arid regions around the world.

Maricopa County

Rick Robinson

Rick has a B.S. in geology from Colorado State University and an M.S. in geology from New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.  He spent eight years in precious metals exploration throughout the western U.S.  After spending summers and holidays installing irrigation systems in the Denver area, he rejoined the green industry in 1988 and shortly thereafter founded DLC Resources as president along with several partners.  Currently he is president of Stillwater Landscape Management and has been in the industry for over 30 years.  Rick is a Certified Arborist, Tree Risk Assessor Qualified, Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditor, Qualifying Party for an A – General Engineering License and Qualifying Party and Licensed Applicator with the Arizona Department of Agriculture’s Office of Pest Management (OPM).  He frequently instructs Sustainable Landscape Maintenance practices (SLM), as well as other classes at Arizona Landscape Contractors Association (ALCA).  Rick is a current board member and the past-president of the Arizona Community Tree Council (ACTC).  He enjoys his gardens at home, Morgan and Molly (Goldens), and escaping to states far to the north in search of cooler temperatures in the summer.

Maricopa County

Jaime Toledano

Smartscape en Espanol Instructor

Originally from Cuba, Jaime graduated with a degree in Agronomy Engineering in 1985, and worked as a professor of agriculture in an Agricultural Technology Institute.

He has worked at the Desert Botanical Garden since 2000. For 11 years, Jaime was the assistant coordinator of the Desert Landscape School program, and the coordinator of the Spanish program. He is currently the horticulturist in charge of the Wildflower trail at the Desert Botanical Garden.

Pima County

Marcus White

Smartscape Instructor

Originally from New Mexico, I came to Southern Arizona in 1992 because of my attraction to the diverse and interesting plant and animal life and the amazing habitat they occupy. I am currently owner of Casa Blanca Horticultural Services, a landscape service and installation contractor and Desert Natives Inc., grower of cacti and succulents. Employed in the ornamental horticulture industry in Southern New Mexico and Arizona for over 30 years, I obtained my Bachelor’s degree in Horticulture in 1987 from New Mexico State University followed by a Masters in Horticulture in 1990.

Maricopa County

Thomas Wright

Smartscape en Espanol Instructor

Tom Wright is a father, teacher, tinkerer and for the last 2 plus decades a practitioner, teacher and student of horticulture in Maricopa County.  Focusing primarily in the horticultural, asset, and team management of master planned communities and large corporate campuses, he has accumulated experience in a multitude of areas.  Educated at ASU in Urban Horticulture, he also has certifications and training from ISA, IA, Desert Botanical Garden, ALCA and CAI. Tom has taught adult education courses for the city of Scottsdale, Desert Botanic Garden and Maricopa Community Colleges.

Along the way, he worked to learn to speak and converse in Spanish.  Recently Tom co-founded Trees for Harmony, a 501c3 focused on tree planting in mid town neighborhoods of Phoenix where they have so far facilitated the installation of 821 trees and still counting.

Pima County

David Sanabria

Smartscape en Espanol Instructor