Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sustainable Landscaping for Dummies

The title of this book is perfect for me.  Not that I am a dummy, but because I have a hard time visualizing the final product of what I plant and grow and how to landscape my yard.   Case in point, the cosmos plants that I planted in my front yard, when I started them from seed, I had no idea they would grow so bushy and large with very small flowers. They were quite the eyesore!  So when Owen Dell, Landscape Architect and the author of the book, Sustainable Landscaping For Dummies sent me a copy to read, I was more than eager to do so.  In his book, he breaks down landscaping into layman's terms for people like me.  I am a gardening novice, who gets easily lost when it comes to planning out our garden.  In his book he covers the importance of taking the time to notice your yard.  He encourages you to put a chair in your yard and observe the area that you're working with.  It's such a great tip that didn't even occur to me.  He also advises you to think about your focal points, what he says "attention-grabbing elements".  We have a couple of focal points that we created this past summer in our yard.  Among them are the 4 grapevines on our posts, and our wall of roses that we are creating along the fence line.  Dell also says that every focal point should have a "vantage point, a place from which it is viewed."  What's nice about where we put our roses, is that we can see them inside from the dining room, and outside from the concrete patio area where we barbeque and have our lawn furniture.
Another topic that Dell covers is deciding what you want from your property.  My husband and I decided early on that we wanted to grow as much edibles in our yard as possible.  Therefore as part of our landscape design, we want to take full advantage of using edible plants, shrubs, trees for dual purposes, we want the plants to not only feed us, but to also look aesthetically pleasing.  This is a big reason we decided to plant grapevines, not only do grapevines look amazing when they are full and lush, the grapes they produce will be something we look forward to eating.  With all these plants and trees we planted, one task I discovered that I didn't particularly like during the "heat wave" of 2010 was watering our plants twice a day.  We had installed two rain barrels, and I really started to hate the way we transported water from the barrel to the vegetable garden that was 100 feet away.  It was such a chore.  So the chapter in the book that talks about "water harvesting, irrigation and drainage" is really interesting to me.  I've been thinking about installing a drip irrigation system because I also really don't like dragging the water hose all the way to the back vegetable garden to water the plants.  I can't wait to implement some of the tips on creating a drip system.  I like how there are diagrams in the book to help explain the system.  Since it's hard for me to visualize things on my own, the diagrams makes it really easy to understand.
I also like how the book covers hardscaping as well.  In those chapters, the book explains that in planning a garden, you also need to consider the hard elements such as lawn furniture, lighting, storage facilities, water features, livestock coops, pavers, and decks.  We've been talking about creating a stone wall in our yard in the future, so I'll be referring to this chapter a lot when we are ready to start this project.  What I like most about this book is that it is a great how-to guide for newbie gardeners.  In particular, I really like his diagrams and explanations of pruning plants, shrubs, and trees.  As well, instead of using harsh chemicals he discusses sustainable ways to control weeds, pests and diseases.  I'm definitely adding this book to my growing gardening library.  A book that makes sustainable landscaping sound easy is definitely a good one for me.


  1. Good info! I should check that out to see what else I can do to get the most out of my yard. Thanks for sharing.

  2. It's always nice to have good information in order to help plan.

  3. Oh my, there is no end to the titles in this book series LOL

  4. good book, I should look around for it


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