Much of my gardening effort goes into improving the soil, examining the plants, and striving for bountiful blooms and harvests. If I zoom out for the larger view I transition into the world of landscape design and find myself asking, “Do I have an overall plan? What data should I collect to define this plan?” In Garden Renovation Bobbie Schwartz, with her decades of landscape design experience, guides the reader through the finer points of designing a new garden or redesigning an existing one.
The wisdom in this volume includes such gems as the three-strike rule for knowing when a particular plant is not suited for the garden and the warning to project into the future when planting trees. If the tree is planted too close to the house it may someday be more of a liability than an asset. I especially enjoyed the before and after photos showing how landscape planning (and sweat equity) can completely change the look of a home.
The book has six sections including Understanding Landscape Elements, Working with Hardscape Elements, and Assessing and Choosing New Plants. As an example of the detail, the “Working with Hardscape Elements” section zooms in to discuss sidewalks and paths, driveways, patios, decks, and fences. The book is amply sown with excellent photos that give real-world illustrations of the techniques being discussed.
For Garden Renovation to serve as a reference book on my shelf I would like to see an expanded Table of Contents which currently gives only the six major section titles. The myriad topics covered in each section are lost in the pages and the reader must flip and turn to find the description of sheds or fire pits for example. Of course, a packet of stick-on-flags can always mark the reader’s favorite spots.
Before turning the first shovel-full of soil or buying that car-load of plants, park at the dining room table with a note pad and pen. Invest some time with Garden Renovation and form your landscape plan with Bobbie Schwartz’s professional help. You may save time and money and achieve a better overall result.