19+ Best Landscaping Books for Gardeners, Architects, and Designers
When I was in high school, I participated in "career day" with the rest of my class, shadowing a person who had the career that I hoped to have in the future...
The career I chose? Landscape architect.
I learned so much from my day shadowing. That day, the seed was planted that sprouted into my love of gardening.
Although I'm not a landscape architect today, I still have an affinity for the profession and consume books about the topic as often as possible.
Here's a list of my favorite landscaping books, landscape design books, and more. I hope you get as much joy out of them as I have.
If anyone knows me, they know I'm not a fan of the American lawn. In fact, I will NEVER have one in my yard.
Pam's book is a fantastic guide to turning your lawn into a beautiful landscape that requires less care and uses less water. She covers different types of grasses, drought-tolerant plants, and even touches on artificial grass (if you want to go that route).
Lawn Gone! is a practical guide on how to beautify your yard and remove your resource-sucking lawn. Highly recommended.
Now this is an idea that I can get behind. Instead of just learning landscaping techniques, Rosalind talks about how to landscape with plants that you can also eat.
It's a double-whammy: not only do you beautify your yard, but you also get to eat it! You reduce your impact on the environment in more ways than one.
Her book helps you understand how you can add edible plants to your landscape, even if it's just a few here and there. Rosalind is an absolute expert in her field, with tens of years of experience. The book includes an Encyclopedia of Edibles, which you may as well consider a book within a book.
One of the biggest reasons that people aren't getting rid of their lawns is that the lawn still functions as an open space for children to play and events to be held.
Rick's book shows you exactly how to get the best of both worlds: a beautiful landscape that doesn't rely so heavily on the lawn, and an outdoor space that is still able to be used by children and adults alike.
With plenty of amazing illustrations and a solid framework for how to achieve this landscape for your own home, Rick's book is a must-read for landscapers and homeowners alike.
Landscape design is no easy feat. If gardening is hard for people, landscape design can look like an absolute nightmare. There are so many different things to pay attention to that it seems maddening, even if you have years of growing experience.
Rita's book demystifies the craft of landscaping, even showing you how to hire landscapers and vet them for expertise. If you decide to do it yourself, it shows you how to choose plants, design beautiful spaces, and create privacy with hedges and fences.
Better Homes and Gardens
This is an updated version of a classic tome from Better Homes and Gardens. It has 700+ photographs of gardens and 100+ projects that are laid out for you step-by-step.
As a beginner to landscape design, there may be no better book to get. You can't make a mistake following the step-by-step guides, and there's plenty of inspiration spread throughout the book.
Robert A. M. Stern
This book is more for history buffs and landscape lovers than those who want a practical guide to landscape design. Nevertheless, it's still a fascinating read.
It covers the history of the suburban garden, from the 1800s to today, when retrofitting the suburbs has become a hot topic among both gardeners and city planners alike.
If you want a deep understanding of how the lawn and garden culture developed in suburbia, look no further.
This book is a true primer on the field of landscape architecture. It's written for people who are pursuing a career in the field, and as such it is one of the most in-depth books you can find on the subject.
It surpasses the hobbyist landscape architecture topics and delves into design principles, digital design techniques, and even how to manage a landscape over time.
If you have a serious interest in the field of landscape architecture, picking up this book will help you understand how deep and fascinating the field really is.
This book is a different take on landscape architecture, showcasing people who use natural "ingredients" to build homes and other creations. While it may not be directly about landscaping, it shows another twist to the field: how to use natural products to create shelter.
Evelyn Hadden and Joshua McCullough
If you grew up in the suburbs, you know what the "hellstrip" is: the little bit of land in between the curb and the street.
Having grown up in the suburbs myself, I always felt that these spaces were utterly wasted. With Hellstrip Gardening, we finally get a guidebook on how to beautify and reclaim these spaces as our own.
There are plenty of photographs and how-to guides that will provide you with more than enough inspiration to start on a "hellstrip" near you.
Who says landscape design has to be outdoors? Although this book doesn't QUITE qualify, it's still a great resource about plant design. There are 100+ projects that show you how to create beautiful plant arrangements.
I say plant because this is not a flower arrangement book. It's more about creating natural groups of plants that look beautiful and add a touch of nature to what might otherwise be a dreary room.
Ian L. McHarg
Design with Nature is a classic tome. It's 25+ years old and has stood the test of time. Many professionals in the field consider it to be one of the classics.
It gives you a complete look at how we as human beings interact with and design around (or with) nature. Touching on technology, science, and philosophy, you get a complete picture of how we can (and should) interact with our surroundings.
Pick this book up if you want a full understanding of landscape design and its implications on our society.
If you are serious about becoming a landscape architect, this book shows you what you need to know about the graphic techniques used in the field.
It goes from simple topics like drafting all the way up to more complex techniques like full diagrams. You can follow along with the exercises and work on your skills.
This book is very much for the aspiring or already-professional landscape architect.
These days, people not only want a landscape to be beautiful, but also sustainable. That's a difficult proposition unless you have the fundamentals of landscape design down.
This book by Travis Beck breaks down the basics of how landscapes work from an ecological perspective, and then applies those concepts to landscape design. The underlying theory of the book is that to design correctly, we must first understand the landscape itself.
William H. Whyte
If you've ever taken a class in environmental design, urban planning, or a variety of other fields, the odds are good that you've seen this book already.
It transformed the way that we think about planning public areas. If you want a technical and historic look at landscape design and urban planning, this book is a goldmine.
Just like The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, this book is another classic in the field of landscape architecture. It looks at the field through aesthetic, ecological, and biological lenses to provide as nuanced a view as possible.
It heavily focuses on a system-based approach the landscape architecture, stressing the importance of understanding the ecology of the system before designing a landscape.
Bradley Cantrell and Wes Michaels
As a landscape architect, learning to draw digitally is a force-multiplier on your effectiveness. Not only are you able to design faster, but your designs are much more flexible and able to be modified in new and unique ways.
This book teaches you just about every digital drawing technique you'll ever use in your career as a landscape architect. It's written as a workbook, filled to the brim with practical tutorials you can work through.
Elizabeth Barlow Rogers
This book looks at how humans have shaped the environment. Unlike other books, it goes all the way back to pre history, delving into the structures and environmental changes that we made as a species thousands of years ago.
Of course, it covers modern day as well and is chock full of pictures and explanations of the ways that we as human beings have taken control of our environment.
Leonard J. Hopper
Poised to become the new "bible" of landscaping, this book is a primer on design as it relates to landscape architecture. It's based on Architectural Graphic Standards, which is a 70+ year old book that has stood the test of time.
Pick this up if you want a foundational education in the field.
Meto J. Vroom
Think of this book as a glossary gone wild. The author, Meto J. Vroom, not only wins awards for the most unique name I've ever seen, but for the way he approaches this book.
Inside are 250+ landscaping terms, objects, and concepts. He defines them all and discusses how they all connect to each other. This is a tremendously important book if you want to speak "the same language" as other landscape designers.
Terms matter, and when everyone agrees on the definition, communication is much easier as well.