DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!
Dec 10 2007

Getting Started with Spring Garden Planning

by Nolan R

My husband and I became new homeowners in May, and we’re big on the do-it-yourself thing.  A couple of  our goals are to plant a vegetable garden next summer and develop a plan for landscaping the neglected backyard.  Since our gardening experience thus far has been pretty much limited to flower pots on a patio, we’ve turned to the Library for more information! 

I discovered a vast number of books on a variety of topics including garden design, hardscaping, pruning, weather and drought resistant gardening, organic gardening, gardens for kitchens, patios, city dwellers, vegetables, herbs, and more, not to mention the numerous books on types of flowers and garden pests and problems. 

I found that one important thing to look for (and something we try to keep in mind when purchasing books for the collection) is whether or not the book is useful to gardeners in the southeastern states.  Many gorgeous gardening books are published in Canada and the U.K., and while the garden plans they offer might be usable in Georgia, the plants listed in them might not do as well in our warm climate.  Georgia is in Zones 7 and 8, with some variations, so make sure you check the hardiness zone before planning your garden!  Your local County Extension office is always a good place to go for more information, as well.

Here are a few of my landscaping and planning favorites:


Southeast Home Landscaping by Roger Holmes & Rita Buchanan:  Published in 2006, this expanded, updated edition is a good beginning guide for landscaping in the southeastern states.   It includes lots of ideas for landscaping different types of yards, including specific situations such as curbside strips and around decks.  Each design includes two design options, showing how the same house or yard would look with each design.  Installation information and plant profiles are also included.  An excellent guide to using the book is included.

The Dry Garden: A Practical Guide to Planning & Planting by Mark Rumary:  Published in 1995, this book is a good beginning overview to dry gardening, or xeriscaping.  There’s discussion of water sources, drainage, and planning around the lay of your land, as well as a guide to plants.  Since this book is not specific to Georgia or the southeast, you may have to do some improvising with your plant choices.  Suggested keyword searches for other related titles: xeriscaping, drought-tolerant plants, and landscape gardening — water conservation.   

Dream Backyards from The Family Handyman Magazine:  This book includes lots of clearly explainedDream_backyards_2  plans for decks, patios, gazebos, fences, and more.  The book was published in 2006, so the project cost estimates should be fairly up to date. 

Landscape Planning: Practical Techniques for the Home Gardener by Judith Adam:  Published in 2002, this book does have a Canadian author, but offers lots of good garden planning information.  Adam offers good advice on assessing your needs, creating your own four-year landscape plan, and when to call for professional help.  There’s a lot of useful info on drainage and hardscaping.

Fence_bible The Fence Bible: How to plan, install, and build fences and gates to meet every home style and property need, no matter what size your yard by Jeff Beneke:  I believe the title of this book pretty much says it all.  The book includes planning, materials needed, and construction how-to on every fencing need.

Pruning Made Easy: A Gardener’s Visual Guide to When and How to Prune Everything, from Flowers to Trees by Lewis Hill:  This is one of several good books in the Library catalog on this topic.  Try a catalog keyword search for “pruning” for more great titles.

The Weather-Resistant Garden: A defensive approach to planning & landscaping byWeather_resistant_garden_2 Charles W. G. Smith:   Think of it as disaster planning for your garden.  Learn how to plant a garden tough enough to withstand almost anything nature delivers.  While the description sounds a little dramatic, the book offers clear, readable advice on many topics including drought and ice storms, which many DeKalb residents can relate to!

Hardscaping: How to Use Structures, Pathways, Patios, & Ornaments in Your Garden by Keith Davitt:  An attractive book with lots of good photos, including before and after shots of actual garden spaces.  Includes discussion about style, structure, and focal points.

Month_by_month Month-By-Month Gardening in Georgia by Walter Reeves and Erica Glasener:  Not sure when to plant tulip bulbs?  Do you know when it’s time to prune your azaleas?  What about fertilizing your roses?  All these questions and many more are answered by two well-known Atlanta horticulturists–Reeves is a former DeKalb County Extension Agent, and Glasener hosts a show on HGTV.  The book is divided into topics such as annuals, bulbs, edibles, lawns, perennials, roses, shrubs, trees, and vines.  Each topic is then broken down by each month of the year and answers your “what to do when” questions for planting, planning, pruning, watering, and dealing with problems.

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