Landscaping Book Reviews

Sunset Western Garden Book

This is an important book that will become your go-to resource. All plants relate to the Western USA and Western Canada. Detailed planting zones make it easy to select the “right plant in the right place”. I keep this on my desk, review it, read it and study it. You can find used and even the list price at Chapters or Amazon makes it a great deal. This is a textual book with a good number of pictures, but don’t buy it if you need 20x pics of every plant. It is a great resource because it has suitable climate zones, sunlight and water requirements for every plant. Page count: 768 pages. Buy rating: 5-Star recommendation.
A book small in size, but big in content. A good pruning resource on most woody shrubs and smaller trees . I like the fact that there is an illustration of each plant with a cutting diagram showing the bare branches and where to cut and the other half with the plant in bloom with what it should look like in natural shape. Page count: 480. Buy rating: 4-Star recommendation.
I really like the way Jeff Lowenfels writes. His books are grounded in science without feeling like a dry technical book. Very good resource covering basic botany and how plants use macro and micronutrients. There are many useful pictures and diagrams. Page count: 250. Buy rating: 4-Star recommendation.
Piet Oudolf is a King when it comes to mass planting perennial gardens. He has designed and planted the Big gardens in both Europe and North America. This book is a good manual on how he approaches the perennial garden with his general framework, designs he has created and plant lists. I recommend anyone who enjoys a perennial garden to review Piet Oudolf on the web Page count: 175. Buy rating: 4.5-Star recommendation.
In most cases, I like the Lone Pine books. They are published in BC and thus the content is mostly based for people in BC or Canada. There are more pictures than the Sunset Western Garden book and the Quick Reference Chart near the end is a good tool for quick selection based on Form, Foilage, Features, and Blooming. Page count: 359. Buy rating: 4-Star recommendation.
I LOVE soil. Don’t ask me where it comes from, but I think I could have been a soil science major. I just love smelling it, having my hands in it and learning more and more about soil every year. This is not the big textbook on the subject of soil. The authors are really important guys in the study of soil and I feel this is a great way to (no pun intended) dig into the subject of soil without feeling overwhelmed. Every area a landscaper or gardener needs to understand about soil is covered here. Page count: 198. Buy rating: 5-Star recommendation.
Sometimes, older books have more depth and coverage than newer books. I have seen a lot of newer books on composting and many seem a bit too trendy/urban slick for my taste. This is an updated edition dating back to 1979. The text reads well, with only back and white illustrations. You will find every page has detailed data and useable material for the home gardener. A classic. Page count: 278. Buy rating: 4-Star recommendation.