Top 10 Home and Garden Books For Every Gardener and Designer

My husband and I have been gardening together for over thirty years. He has a degree in horticulture and I have a degree in library science. So, when we combine our love of books and gardening, we end up with a vast gardening resource library.

I want to share my favorites and think they will become your favorites as well. Below I’ve listed my top 10 favorite home and garden books that I believe beginners and professional designers alike should consider purchasing for your own home reference library.

Top 10 Home and Garden Books For Every Beginner and Designer

1. The Well Tended Perennial Garden: Planting and Pruning Techniques by Tracy DiSabato-Aust is a classic. Tracy is well known in the gardening world for her 20 plus years experience in maintaining gardens and in this book she tells you exactly how to prune perennials. Also, In the very first chapter, she speaks of designing a garden with its maintenance in mind. Her advice is to ask yourself “Who’s going to maintain this garden, me or a professional crew?” Great question!

2. Landscaping With Perennials by Emily Brown is another favorite of ours. Advice on garden layouts for slopes, shade, bogs, parking strips, creating cutting gardens, island beds, or a fairytale woodland garden is all here. Included are line drawings, photographs, plant lists and more. A real delight to read.

3. Gardening With Color by Mary Keen. A garden designer and consultant herself, Mary has filled this book with gorgeous full page photos. Excellent advice on designing with the six color categories for gardens including: blues, reds, greens, grays and white, and yellows makes this book another great choice for your library.

4. Armitage’s Garden Annuals: A Color Encyclopedia by Allan Armitage helps the gardener select proven specimen annuals that are interesting, important, and often overlooked. Armitage is a horticulturalist, teacher, and respected expert in his field and this plant reference guide is a perfect companion to his earlier Manual of Annuals, Biennials, and Half-Hard Perennials. Attractive and easy to use with inspiring pictures.

5. Designing the New Kitchen Garden: An American Potager Handbook by Jennifer R. Bartley was published in 2006 but I’m just now finding out about it. This lovely book describes how to create a garden that is not only beautiful and well laid out, but is also productive. Who wouldn’t want a kitchen garden, or potoager, as part of their landscape? If you love growing your own fresh fruits and veggies, learn how to do it in style!

6. All New Square Foot Gardener by Mel Bartholomew is my new favorite gardening book. This method has been around for 25 years so you know it works. I was skeptical at first. How can you “grow more in less space” like he says in 4’x4′ square boxes? Pictures with detailed instruction explains how to build these raised beds for your garden or deck. Great for everyone as well as kids and wheelchair bound gardeners. Learn more at www.squarefootgardening.com

7. The Complete Compost Gardening Guide by Barbara Pleasant and Deborah Martin helps gardeners to not become compost failures. Unique, easy to implement techniques using heaps, bins, or enclosed composters make composting easier to create and tend.

8. Plant Propagation: The Fully Illustrated Plant-by-Plant Manual of Practical Techniques by Alan Toogood. The title says it all. Learn how to get free plants and save yourself a ton of money…maybe even start a business. Very good pictures with directions. You’ll learn a lot from this book.

9. Gardening With Grass by Michael King and Piet Oudolf shows how to use ornamental grasses to transform a ho-hum garden into a stunning garden. They even list perennials, by color and height, that grow well with particular variety of grasses. Planting grasses are highly recommended to extend your summer garden into fall.

10. The Way We Garden Now by Katherine Whiteside is a nice book if you are feeling overwhelmed by your garden. This book lets you pick-and-choose from ten easy, manageable projects like adding edibles, planting bulbs, dealing with hedges, putting up deer fencing and even container gardening. Fun and engaging to read.

Any one of the books listed above will give you a great deal of insight on how to have an awe inspiring garden that will make your garden a paradise for you and your family. That’s why the are my top 10 books on home and garden that every gardener and designer should consider having on their bookshelf.

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Best Value Home Design Software – Better Homes and Gardens Picture Painter Home & Landscape

There is more than just a few home design software available in the market today. Although a majority of these programs are able to deliver excellent functionality, there are some that just don’t deliver value for money. While so home design applications retail for less than $50, there are those that have quite a hefty price tag, sometimes even in the 500-dollar region. It then becomes a question of needs rather than wants. In order for a user to ensure that he is purchasing a piece of software that will be worth his money, he will first need to identify what it is he wants from the said program.

Painting the Picture

Now down to only $49 (formerly at $69), Better Homes and Gardens Picture Painter Home & Landscape is definitely one of the best value home design software out there. This program takes a unique approach in home design in that it makes use of an actual picture as the basis of each project – thus the name, Picture Painter. What this one of a kind software does is it takes an actual image of the existing house (which is either scanned or uploaded by the user to the computer) and integrates it into the program to allow the users to tinker with its design. Instead of starting from scratch, Picture Painter allows users to literally repaint their homes to see what it would look like in different colors. And of course, there are a lot more features on board that will allow users to play with their homes’ designs in their quest to find the perfect look and feel for their future dream house.

Never Wonder Again

One of the reasons why a lot of folks have their qualms about redesigning their homes is because of the fear that it might not look good once the remodeling phase is completed. With the help of Picture Painter, users will no longer have to wonder and speculate ever again as this program will show them exactly how their new house will look like once the changes have taken place. Aside from changing the home’s color, users can also change the textures of their exteriors. Moreover, landscaping changes can also be visually represented on Picture Painter to ensure that users get exactly what they want. This way, a lot of time, money, and effort is saved.

Great for Interiors Too

While Picture Painter focuses on how one’s home’s exterior will look like, it also offers a wide array of features for any changes one might wish to make inside the house. For starters, users can choose from over 6,000 branded furniture and fixtures and literally drag them into whichever room they’d like. Among these renowned brands are Huntwood, Kraftmaid, Armstrong, Mohawk, LG Electronice, Whirlpool, DuPont Corian, Sherwin-Williams, and a whole lot more.

What’s even better is that the whole process is quite simple and very user-friendly – it’s just like editing a picture. In fact, the manufacturer even promises that no design experience whatsoever is needed to excel in this wonderfully-designed program.

Especially when the affordable price is included in the equation, Picture Painter definitely proves to be one of the best value home design programs in the market today.

Fairy Decorations Add Enchantment to Homes and Gardens

In times of austerity and economic downturn, we all need a little extra happiness and joy in our lives, and these can come from the simplest of things, such as home-made cookies, hand made gifts and expressing our creativity through our homes and gardens. Fairy decorations appeal to adults just as much as to children, evoking, as they do, buried memories of childhood innocence, stories, fun, and unquestioning faith that fairies, sprites, pixies and elves do exist to enchant our world. Their very elusiveness makes them more magical, more enticing, more fun.

Fairy baby

This is  a delightful choice of nursery theme for a boy or a girl because fairy decorations lend themselves so well to a whole range of pastel color schemes and soft lighting effects. Take your inspiration from traditional illustrated fairy stories and the work of artists such as Kate Greenaway, Cecily Mary Barker and Arthur Rackham or follow the style of icing sugar castles and bright colours used in modern cartoon fairytales.
 
Outdoor Fairy Garden

Creating an outdoor fairy garden together is a perfect way to introduce young children to the thrill and contentment of working with nature. Grow a variety of miniature plants and wild flowers, adding complementary fairy decorations such as miniature solar lights, lanterns, ornamental butterflies, birds and bees, magical runes, fairy ornaments and statues. Look for small, low growing plants and make sure there are plenty of places for your fairy visitors to shelter from prying human eyes.
 
Indoor Fairy Garden

Think about an indoor fairy garden too. Indoor garden fairy decorations could include a water feature (real or illusory using mirrors), a fairy house ornament (you’ll find that many of the famous china manufacturers produce miniature cottages and even trinket boxes in the shape of toadstools and other fairy decorations that would provide a perfect home for your indoor garden fairy). You can make or buy paper or fabric flowers, use doll’s house seats and tables and provide a bonsai tree for shade. Let your imagination run wild and have fun with your fairy decorations, wherever you choose to use them.
 
Fairy Wall

Another popular idea to bring some fairy whimsy to your home, a fairy wall  makes the perfect fantasy fairy decoration for your little princess. Adapt the theme to better suit the tastes of a little boy by featuring pixies, elves, wizards and woodland animals. Silver, pewter and even plastic photo frames can be found with intaglio, embossed or painted fairy decorations and you can complete the wall with shelves for all those much loved books of fairy tales. Add some twinkling fairy lights, glow in the dark stars and sweet dreams are assured!

Nontoxic Pest Control for Your Home and Garden

Pesticides are toxic and, while often effective against pests, can be dangerous for your family and pets. Outdoors, sprayed pesticides might drift on a breeze and dust your vegetable garden or your neighbor’s yard. Indoors, pesticides can linger in the air, exposing the family to harmful chemicals. For these reasons, many people are turning to nontoxic pest control methods.

Prevention is the best way to control pests, but there are times when even the most thorough preventative measures will not save you from intruders, so this article discusses both preventative pest control methods and nontoxic pest control products.

Preventative Pest Control Methods

Sanitation:

As they say, cleanliness is next to godliness. And it keeps pests out, too. Keeping your home clean is the most effective pest control method. If you don’t leave food or dirty dishes lying around the house, animals and insects won’t be attracted to the smell. Sweep and vacuum regularly. Remember, just because you can’t see crumbs doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Clean inside pantries and cabinets cabinets, under and around the stove and refrigerator at least once a year.

Screens:

This may seem obvious, but screens on doors and windows are a simple and relatively cheap way to keep insects out of the house. Also, screens on crawlspaces keep rodents from obtaining easy access routes into the house.

Caulking:

By caulking cracks in your house, you can minimize places for insects to hide and nest. Target bathrooms and the kitchen, especially doors and windows.

Nontoxic Pest Control Products

Traps:

There are many kinds of traps available that target many kinds of pests. Some examples are sticky traps for cockroaches, glueboards for mice, flypaper, bug zappers, and traps specifically for rats, gophers, or moles. You can usually pick up traps at your local Home and Garden store.

Pheromones:

Pheromones, essentially insect scent hormones, can be used in traps as bait. By emitting the scent of the female insect, pheromones can be used to lure males into a trap, where they are caught in a sticky glue. Insects are only attracted by pheromones emitted by their own kind, so you need to know exactly what kind of insects you’re trying to eliminate and plan accordingly.

Biological Control:

Biological control is more often used in agriculture but can sometimes be used in home and garden situations as well. Basically it means using desirable organisms to eliminate undesirable organisms. For instance, planting certain plants in your garden can deter certain pests. For example, spearmint repels ants. Garlic repels Japanese Beetles. Indoors, spiders eat fruit flies and houseflies, so it may be worth leaving some of those webs around.

Repellents:

There are nontoxic repellents available for pest control. Mosquito repellents are the most popular, but if you look around, you can find repellents that target other pests. Some herbs, like eucalyptus and wormwood, are known for repelling animals and insects.