19+ Best Landscaping Books for Gardeners, Architects, and Designers

Ed Wike
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Gardening in the digital age is not just about buying plants online. There are a myriad of beautiful online resources available to help you landscape your home or outdoor area like a pro. However, there’s nothing better than a hard copy book. This listing features large landscape books filled with beautiful photos and easy to follow instructions.

NameCategoryProduct
The Social Life of Small Urban SpacesBest OverallThe Social Life of Small Urban Spaces
Hellstrip Gardening: Create a Paradise between the Sidewalk and the CurbBudget PickHellstrip Gardening: Create a Paradise between the Sidewalk and the Curb
The Planting Design HandbookUpgrade PickThe Planting Design Handbook

1. The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces

Our rating: 9 / 10

The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces

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Pros:

  • Insightful analysis
  • Practical and applicable for both public and private urban spaces
  • Funny and whimsical

Cons:

  • Hard to read, sometimes feels like a textbook
  • Gets repetitive, tends to go off on tangents
  • Targeted at older and more sophisticated readers

The author of this book, William H. Whyte, made a career out of his study of open urban spaces: public parks, squares, sidewalks, town centers. Whyte started to realize that spaces that were designed with utilitarian features, like benches, tended to fail in their designated purpose (to provide a place for people to meet, socialize, and engage in leisure).

Difficult weather conditions usually would see many of the public spaces left unused most of the time. Whyte found that the best parks, plazas, and squares were designed with fewer utilitarian features and more whimsical or aesthetic features. In other words they featured more signs, more opportunities for people to get lost in their thoughts, more unique elements like trees, and more elements that promoted sociability versus solitude.

Some examples from the book:

  • Hard to read, sometimes feels like a textbook
  • Gets repetitive, tends to go off on tangents
  • Targeted at older and more sophisticated readers

2. Reimagining the California Lawn:Water-conserving Plants

Our rating: 8 / 10

Reimagining the California Lawn:Water-conserving Plants

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Pros:

  • Easy to read, with plenty of pictures and illustrations
  • Covers a wide variety of topics in the landscape design field
  • Whether you are looking to redesign an entire yard or simply freshen up what you have; this book has it covered.

Cons:

  • The book can be quite broad, and more in-depth focused books may be better for some
  • Seasonal suggestions, maintenance, and other reminders may seem a bit sparse

Reimagining the California Lawn is a fantastic resource for anyone looking to relandscape a yard. It is best for those that have never been involved in landscaping before. It tells you everything you need to know about the subject. It can be a bit dry at times, but overall, is a worthwhile read.

Although some may prefer a more in-depth read; it will give you the information you need for a fantastic start in landscaping.

3. Taylor's Master Guide to Landscaping

Our rating: 8 / 10

Taylor's Master Guide to Landscaping

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Pros:

  • Wide range of topics
  • The material is not overly technical
  • Direct, to the point, and clear
  • Covers all types of landscaping from residential and commercial to aquatic and ornamental
  • Well-organized and detailed descriptions
  • Useful to both experienced and inexperienced gardeners
  • Leveled difficulty so anyone can read and understand easily
  • Highly recommended by readers
  • Includes a comprehensive index

Cons:

  • Covers a wide range of topics, so some details get skipped
  • Not too many pictures
  • Doesn’t have a table of content
  • Not enough information on starting your own landscaping business

While Taylor’s Master Guide to Landscaping receives positive reviews by most readers, a few experienced landscapers have pointed out some minor flaws. Some readers consider the book to be a brief overview of the landscaping industry, while others loved it for on-the-job use.

Taylor explains that he’s not writing a gardening textbook, so don’t go in expecting that. Instead, he covers most landscaping topics and shows the reader how to execute the task at hand. He gets right down to business, giving high-level overviews of things like supplies, techniques, and equipment that landscapers will use.

4. Edible Landscaping

Our rating: 7 / 10

Edible Landscaping

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Pros:

  • Provides a step-by-step guide to creating beautiful landscapes that are also edible
  • Thousands of gardeners have benefited from this book
  • Dr. Kallas uses mulches, compost, herbs, shrubs and other plants to explain how to create an edible landscape
  • Covers all climates
  • Easy to understand and apply

Cons:

  • Some areas are outdated
  • Can be expensive when shipping
  • His designs may not appeal to everyone.

An Ecological Approach to a New Horticulture

Edible Landscaping was written in 1991 by Warren D. Kallas. It details how to turn your yard into an edible fruit, vegetable and herb garden. There is also a chapter on composting and there are extensive plans for designs. Dr. Kallas does a good job at explaining how to create beautiful, sustainable edible gardens. He provides a variety of drawing examples which are easy to follow. His book is an excellent guide for any home gardener who's looking to save money by growing their own food.

5. Principles of Ecological Landscape Design

Our rating: 7 / 10

Principles of Ecological Landscape Design

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Pros:

  • Basic knowledge for landscape designers
  • Provides techniques for site analysis
  • Recommended plants for sustainable landscapes
  • References list for further reading
  • Good practical guidelines

Cons:

  • No photos or illustrations
  • Not for complete beginners
  • Sections are quite long and seem repetitive

Environmentally Sound Site Planning and Planting Design Guidelines

This book is the go-to reference source for any landscape designer who is interested in building a sustainable, environmentally-sensitive landscape. It is an introduction to ecologically responsible landscape design. It is a guide for environmentally-sensitive landscaping allowing designers to build landscapes that are more environmentally responsive and sustainable.

The book is fairly easy to understand and covers a great deal of complexity within the subject. All of the topics are covered in a simple manner that keeps the meaning very clear to us.

6. Paradise Planned: The Garden Suburb and the Modern City

Our rating: 7 / 10

Paradise Planned: The Garden Suburb and the Modern City

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Pros:

  • Profiles renowned garden suburbs in the UK and US
  • A fascinating perspective on the garden suburb movement
  • Provides a unique look into the design and planning perspective

Paradise Planned: The Garden Suburb and the Modern City is considered by many to be the definitive book on garden suburbs. It focuses on the rich history of the garden suburb movement in both the UK and US.

Along with this, it profiles some of the most famous garden suburbs in the world including: Hampstead Garden Suburb, Blackheath, Radburn, Welwyn and Park Forest.

This book comes from a variety of perspectives – including those of urban planners, landscape architects and academics. This helps to enrich the reader’s insight into the movement and makes it a great companion for anyone working with garden suburbs.

7. The Living Landscape: Designing

Our rating: 7 / 10

The Living Landscape: Designing

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Pros:

  • Comprehensive and detailed coverage of gardens
  • Wide variety of topics for landscape design
  • Contains many in-depth photos
  • Provides readers with practical advice on designing their gardens

If your landscape planning could use a bit of help, then you should consider the book The Living Landscape: Designing for Beauty and Biodiversity in the Home Garden. It is a comprehensive guide for anyone who wants to make the most of their outdoor space. Chapters like, "Planning: Gravel Paths and River Beds" and "Color Palettes: A Guide to Nature's Own" are great for helping you understand what components you can use to create a beautiful and natural garden.

The real value of this book is in the details. Topics like soil-building fundamentals, ideas for creative fencing, and even pasture-based landscaping techniques are covered, and there is even a chapter about water gardens for the more advanced landscaper.

A great addition to this book is its companion web site. Here you can download the additional resources from the book, including tables, charts, and documents, and also view the videos that supplement the material. Whether you are a professional or just a home landscaper, if you want to improve your design skills this book is a great investment.

8. Step-by-Step Landscaping

Our rating: 7 / 10

Step-by-Step Landscaping

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Pros:

  • New edition released in late 2017/early 2018
  • 450+ step-by-step landscape plans
  • Easy to read and follow
  • Does a great job at clarifying the steps
  • A lot of photos and illustrations
  • The text is easy to read

Cons:

  • Some photos are grainy and look cheaper than others
  • Overview is fairly broad instead of focusing on each type of plant
  • Thorough background information is lacking
  • No linkage between looking at a landscape plan and the actual implementation

This book, Step-by-Step Landscape Plans (2nd Edition), is by Cornell University’s very own Joe Lamp'l. This book will help you walk through the process of designing and building a professional landscape design step by step.

It's very well-written, with lots of detailed illustrations that help you from the beginning to the end. Keep in mind that this book teaches you how to design and build a landscape, NOT how to make one. In other words, be prepared to know a whole lot more about the building process than the design and plant selection process.

9. Natural Architecture Now: New Projects from Outside the Boundaries of Design

Our rating: 7 / 10

Natural Architecture Now: New Projects from Outside the Boundaries of Design

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Pros:

  • Any lover of nature or environment will be thrilled to find this book in their gift basket
  • It opens the mind to the possibilities of nature in design
  • Projects are categorized according to natural design elements
  • Exhibition of easy-to-make and moderate-level buildings for the most part
  • Open-ended to the point of having only brief commentary on the projects
  • Natural material such as stone, wood, water, plants, and more are used
  • Projects include homes from all over the world in all shapes and sizes

Cons:

  • Little depth in the showcase of handiwork
  • Many projects lack a brief background description
  • For a layperson, it will take time to read through all of the makes and models

The 19+ Landscaping Books for Gardeners, Architects, and Designers. Depending on the type of landscape object that the designer is striving to reach, there is a corresponding book in the library.

This landscaping book collection will inspire you each and every time! It is categorized systematically and will give you a better understanding of different landscaping features used in a variety of landscapes.

It includes:

  • Little depth in the showcase of handiwork
  • Many projects lack a brief background description
  • For a layperson, it will take time to read through all of the makes and models

10. The Plant Recipe Book: 100 Living Arrangements

Our rating: 6 / 10

The Plant Recipe Book: 100 Living Arrangements

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Pros:

  • Easy to read and follow
  • Full of mouth-watering living arrangements
  • Lots of useful tips and insights
  • Includes plant care instructions
  • Affordable price-point
  • Engaging format
  • Great for anyone looking to get In to gardening

Cons:

  • Not ideal for those looking for a revision guide
  • Doesn’t include too much technical detail

This book provides an array of living arrangements that anyone can do. It covers both indoor and outdoor arrangements and focuses on 100 different arrangements. It’s a great book for beginners because it’s easy to read and follow.

It also provides interesting insights on plant care, design styles, and layouts. This book will get your creative juices flowing and give you some good tips and tricks to do the job well. If you love working with plants and making arrangements, then this book is for you. It also includes some great plants and arrangements that will pique your interest.

11. Landscape Graphics: Plan

Our rating: 6 / 10

Landscape Graphics: Plan

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Pros:

  • Covers a wide range of landscaping topics
  • Written by Sven Günther
  • Ideal for beginners and people new to the topic
  • Trusted by generations of landscape architects and planners
  • Available on Kindle

(Landschaftsgraphik)

The Landscape Graphics: Plan, Section, and Perspective Drawing of Landscape Spaces (Landschaftsgraphik) is designed to teach you how to draw landscapes from the very beginning. It introduces you to various drawing techniques and processes that will help you as you practice.

It covers a wide range of topics including the use of perspective, dimensions, composition, figure drawing, and drawing trees and shrubs. The book consists of many exercises that teach the different methods.

12. Design with Nature

Our rating: 6 / 10

Design with Nature

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Pros:

  • Filled with lots of pictures and examples
  • Great encouragement for newcomers
  • Encourages sustainable landscaping
  • Good overview for those new to the field

Cons:

  • A bit too wordy in places
  • The photos are small for many examples

The first book by garden designer and landscape architect Thomas Church is a masterpiece. If you want solid, well-reasoned book on landscape design, then this is the one.

It includes lots of examples that show how natural kingdoms are translated to your garden, from trees down to ground-hugging plants. It is also filled with a boatload of practical advice on various aspects of landscape design. Church corrects many old ideas that even experienced gardeners have assumed as solid truths.

He affirms that using the principles of nature is a critical part of a designer’s process. Church also gives advice about the importance of observation and research as a foundation for your design. It’s a high recommendation for anyone passionate about the art and science of creating spaces that fit with nature.

13. Lawn Gone!: Low-Maintenance

Our rating: 6 / 10

Lawn Gone!: Low-Maintenance

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Pros:

  • Comprehensive coverage of incredibly diverse alternatives
  • Author is very familiar of practical issues
  • Tips and strategies for making your own alternatives
  • Space-saving suggestions
  • Clear step-by-step guides
  • Excellent DIY illustrations
  • Useful drawings
  • Templates included

The title is pretty self-explanatory. If you want to get rid of your lawn, you can use this book as a guide!

In Lawn Gone!, author Amy M. Savage guides readers through the many practical aspects of lawn removal, from preparing for the work to installing the aftercare. And if you happen to be bold, she also provides a general guide to designing your own landscape from scratch.

14. Landscape Architectural Graphic Standards

Our rating: 6 / 10

Landscape Architectural Graphic Standards

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Pros:

  • The book features over 1600 landscape designs from the last 50 years
  • The book features landscape designs from all geographical locations
  • It has landscape designs from different design styles

Cons:

  • Although many landscape designs are included in the book, it doesn’t feature 23 categories
  • The book isn’t oriented towards designers who are looking for specific design styles

The book “Landscape Architectural Graphic Standards” is an essential resource for those who work in the landscape design field. It was published by the ASLA, so you can be guaranteed of the quality of work. The landscape architectural graphic standards book features over 1,200 landscape designs from the last 50 years. The book contains a comprehensive collection of landscape designs that will allow you to take a trip around the world. It contains landscape designs from different dates, as well as different design styles.

Most landscape designs from different date periods, are welcomed in todays business. The landscape architectural graphic standards book also include traditional landscape designs.

The book also features images and descriptions of elements such as: vernacular buildings, town squares, tree groupings, meadows, and waterways. If you want to find a landscape design, or simply increase your understanding of the industry, this is a good book to have.

15. Landscape Architecture: An Introduction

Our rating: 6 / 10

Landscape Architecture: An Introduction

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Pros:

  • Introductory landscape design book
  • Comprehensive information
  • Variety of topics covered
  • OK for beginners

Cons:

  • Wouldn’t recommend for professionals
  • Not for design freelancers

Landscape architecture is a growing field of study. There are a number of specialized design styles and techniques but overall, landscape architecture focuses on using natural elements to craft outdoor living spaces.

This book by M. Alan Berger discusses five design styles – from the past and present. From those, Berger draws connections and makes diversions into history and the future. All of this is from the point of view of the landscape architect. There is some historical information and examples, but the book really branches off into intro materials for beginners and design focus for new students.

The information is applicable for those that want to go into landscape architecture as a design profession, and those that want to simply know how to combine the natural world with built space.

16. Hellstrip Gardening: Create a Paradise between the Sidewalk and the Curb

Our rating: 5 / 10

Hellstrip Gardening: Create a Paradise between the Sidewalk and the Curb

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Pros:

  • The book is filled with valuable information and advice on creating your personal paradise between the sidewalk and the curb.
  • The book includes hand-to-hand tricks on gardening and maintenance with little to no money involved.
  • There is also a section on food-producing plants that will grow in the hellstrip.
  • The book explains how to transform your hellstrip into a garden and maintain it to resemble a small garden.

Cons:

  • Although the book is valuable and inspirational, it is not a complete guide on building your own hellstrip garden.

The book, Hellstrip Gardening: Create a Paradise between the Sidewalk and the Curb, explains how to make the most of the space right in front of your houses. Anne Peterson discusses how to maximize the little space that people have between their houses and the sidewalk.

You can create food-producing hellstrip gardens that will decorate your house and create a mini vacation spot by your own home. Her book includes elaborate information on creating your own paradise, including using salvaged materials to create your own garden and maintain it.

The book explains ways to organize the strip of land and help it flourish naturally with little maintenance and money. You will also learn how to grow edible plants and flowers in your hellstrip garden.

17. Landscape Design: A Cultural and Architectural History

Our rating: 5 / 10

Landscape Design: A Cultural and Architectural History

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Pros:

  • Explores the long history of garden design and architecture
  • Great for students of design who want to learn more about the history of garden design
  • Offers detailed insights into garden aesthetics
  • Includes a number of stunning illustrations and visual guides
  • Written by an expert in the field

Cons:

  • Some may find its academic style to be dry and uninviting
  • Not ideal for those who are just getting started with design

This book by Richard Tesser explores the art and history of garden design from ancient to modern times. It looks at the major developments that occurred in garden design and includes detailed descriptions of notable projects from history.

The book covers a whole variety of different styles of garden design from around the world including Islamic, Japanese, Chinese, and European as well as stone, water, wilderness, and symbolic gardens.

This book is a great for people who are interested in learning more about the history of garden design. It's ideal for students of design who want to learn more about the history of garden design, as well as architects and designers.

18. The Planting Design Handbook

Our rating: 5 / 10

The Planting Design Handbook

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Pros:

  • Very well organized
  • Gives a lot of information in a small space
  • Large scale with a generous number of photos
  • Lots of plant suggestions

Cons:

  • No organization by region
  • No plant description
  • No index

This book is a reference guide to over 2,000 plants and trees. It was written for the beginning or intermediate gardener and is color-coded for easy reference. This book is not just about plants though. It has a lot of information about techniques, design, and elements to be used. The Planting Design Handbook has a wealth of information in a handy sized book.

19. Digital Drawing

Our rating: 4 / 10

Digital Drawing

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Pros:

  • It offers detailed instruction for beginners
  • It covers a broad range of topics
  • Concisely written and easy to understand
  • Begins with the basics and slowly builds

Cons:

  • It hasn’t done well with customer service reviews.

By C. Geoffrey Powers

This book is best for students and experienced designers alike. It’s the ideal way to advance your skills in sketching, rendering, production, and Adobe Illustrator.

Powers begins by breaking down how to make smart choices about line weight and color for quick and accurate representation.

20. Lexicon of Garden and Landscape Architecture

Our rating: 4 / 10

Lexicon of Garden and Landscape Architecture

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Pros:

  • Comprehensive information
  • Goes in-depth into detail
  • Beautifully laid out
  • Heavy hardcover

Cons:

  • Doesn’t come with a CD-ROM or code for additional content
  • Not really targeted towards the younger generation
  • Not enough focus on the American West

If you’re looking for a comprehensive guide for landscape, garden, and architectural reference purposes, then the Lexicon of Garden and Landscape Architecture is definitely worth a try. It is considered a textbook with eight separate chapters that are organized A-Z.

It includes all the most important terms and definitions related to your garden, home and landscape design needs. It’s an 1839 page Landscape Architecture book for beginners, advanced users, and professionals. The book covers all of this in-depth research in one single volume, for you to make it easier to retain and make professional decisions.

This book comes with a CD-ROM that allows you to get an even greater understanding of landscape architecture concepts. It includes thousands of photos and drawings to help you with your own drawings and design.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Who is the best landscape architect?

Lewis Mumford is arguably the most renowned landscape architect in the 20th century. A student of the layout of the classics in Rome, New York, and Paris, he established principles that revolutionized modern city planning.

What are the 7 principles of landscape design?

{1}. Careful observation of nature
{2}. Mature garden appreciation
{3}. Love and respect for the garden
{4}. Design thinking
{5}. Planning and controlling details
{6}. Work ethic and a positive outlook
{7}. OBSERVE AND RECORD

Showing the landscape that surrounds you is so important as a designer. So many designers focus on what they think will work and they make mistakes in that pursuit. But following what works will always produce exceptions. A good landscape designer observes and records the natural environment to learn what works and what does not.

What is the difference between a landscape architect and a landscape designer?

Often times, the terms "landscape architect" and "landscaper" are used interchangeably. Yet the definitions are quite different.

In the US, the term "landscape architect" is used to refer to a professional with a 4-year or 5-year degree who examines and designs layouts of land for both public and private use. In other countries (especially in Europe), the term "landscape architect" is reserved for professionals who also have a PhD in their field.

The term "landscape designer" is used to refer to professionals with a shorter or non-degree certification program who create landscapes for residential and commercial use. Two of the most well-known landscape design styles are:

  • French Formal
  • English Picturesque

What are the four common mistakes landscapers make when planting?

Landscapers often make the same mistake in two ways:

  • Plant trees and shrubs in clumps rather than in a more naturalistic and random manner
  • Don’t differentiate between large trees and small saplings
  • Plant trees and shrubs too close to the property line

Conclusion

Gardening can be serious work, especially if you’re an avid gardener. At the end of the day, there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing the work pay off in your garden and home. We want to help you enjoy your gardening experience, and that means outlining the very best options for the books that can help you improve the quality of your home and garden. Whether you’re looking for the best easy gardening book to help instruct you in the basics, or the best comprehensive gardening book to learn all the right tricks, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for if you follow our recommendations.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
The Social Life of Small Urban SpacesBest OverallThe Social Life of Small Urban Spaces
Hellstrip Gardening: Create a Paradise between the Sidewalk and the CurbBudget PickHellstrip Gardening: Create a Paradise between the Sidewalk and the Curb
The Planting Design HandbookUpgrade PickThe Planting Design Handbook