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The Best Gardening Books For Beginners

Who doesn’t love a good gardening book? From stunning photos to in-depth plant knowledge and engaging how-to’s, books are the socially-approved addiction for every garden lover and enthusiast. The only problem I have is deciding upon which books to buy — after all, I only have so much shelf space and budget, and with most gardening books going for up to $50.00, I don’t want to make a mistake.

But you’re in luck — we’ve polled some gardening book authors for their all-time most favorite and useful gardening book suggestions, covering essential gardening topics. Some are classics while others are brand new — but all are inspiring and will help you to be a better gardener.

Book opening to a vibrant garden

Our Top 7 Gardening Books

The American Horticultural Society Encyclopedia of Gardening (DK Adult, 1993) by Christopher Brickell. This 648-page full-color book seems to be a hit among my professional gardening friends and colleagues. You can see from the publishing date that it’s not a new book, but a classic. So if you want one classic gardening book on your shelf, this could be it — from garden design and planning to plant groups, garden maintenance, food gardens, indoor gardens, and how-to projects, everything is covered. It also has a useful gardening calendar with seasonal reminders of common garden chores and activities — it’s always nice to have a reminder!

The New Western Garden Book: The Ultimate Gardening Guide (Sunset 2012, 9th edition) by The Editors of Sunset. This best-selling book comes from the editors of the trusted and well-loved Sunset magazine, focused on all things gardening for West coast dwellers. This treasure includes climate zone maps, a plant finder section for problem areas or special effects, and possibly the most beautiful photo gallery with regional examples of edible front yards, fire/water-wise gardens, green roofs and living walls. You will love this book even if you don’t live in the West, too.

Don’t Throw In the Trowel!: Vegetable Gardening Month by Month (CreateSpace Independent Publishing 2016) by Melinda R. Cordell. This is a delightful read that is a wealth of practical knowledge for gardeners, both newbies and experienced. This is a practical, enjoyable read that you will inspire and guide you through the ins and outs of gardening. It even has a month to month guide to keep you on track so you stay ahead of the gardening game!

Building Soil: A Down-to-Earth Approach: Natural Solutions for Better Gardens & Yards (Cool Springs Press 2015) by Elizabeth Murphy. Soil can be a little bit intimidating – trust us, we know! This book does a great job of simplifying and breaking down the idea of soil-building in your garden. You’ll learn to recognize what healthy soil looks like, and have a step by step series that covers how you can get your own soil under control. The author, who has a master’s degree in soil science, even goes over the basics of mulching, composting, cover crops, weeds, and a lot more. If you ever have your hands in the dirt, you’ll want to read this book.

The Monarch: Saving Our Most Loved Butterfly (St. Lynn’s Press 2017) by Kylee Baumle. In the last 20 years, the monarch butterfly population has plummeted by 90%, and this book seeks to rectify that. The author considers herself a “citizen scientist,” and she’ll make one out of you, too, with her engaging monarch facts, jaw-dropping photographs, and action projects for everyone. This award-winning and best-selling book will help you understand how you can help save this magnificent creature…and then will make you want to do it.

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Reading in the garden

Lawn Gone!: Low-Maintenance, Sustainable, Attractive Alternatives for Your Yard (Ten Speed Press 2013) by Pam Penick. This timely and best-selling book is ideal for gardeners who want to replace their thirsty, labor-intensive lawn with something that is beautiful, drought tolerant, and easy-care. Penick has regional plant recommendations, step-by-step lawn removal ideas, clever ways to deal with HOAs, and more. A seasoned landscape designer, the author provides the reader with a wealth of motivating ideas and designs for both the beginner and expert gardener.

How Plants Work: The Science Behind the Amazing Things Plants Do (Timber Press 2015) by Linda Chalker-Scott. For the curious and scientific-minded gardener, Chalker-Scott makes plant physiology accessible and fun. With a motto of “The more you know, the better you grow!”, she delves into common garden problems, head-scratching plant mysteries, and fascinating facts to enrich your gardening life. And no need to ever worry about if you can trust the information — the author is an urban horticulturalist, an associate professor, and the brains behind the popular blog, gardenprofessors.com.


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