Energy-Wise Landscape Design (Book Review)

by Wendy Gabriel

Image my surprise (and delight) when Sue Reed, author and landscape architect, contacted me about her new book, Energy-Wise Landscape Design: A New Approach for your Home and Garden. My approach in landscape design has always been to work with what I had, don’t add toxic chemicals and do add native plants whenever and wherever I could. After reading Energy-Wise Landscape Design, I was taken to a whole new level and have a new appreciation for how important our landscape design can be.

This book should be required reading for anyone who has a hand in planning a landscape design: homeowners, builders, city planners and so on.

Some of my favorites:

Chapter 8: Reducing (or Eliminating) Lawn
This chapter describes the evolution of the North American lawn and how we can replace some lawn with other things or design a lawn-free landscape. I sincerely wish that we could all shift the way we view a “perfect” lawn.

In the ultimate irony, to keep grass free of weeds, we blithely spread bags full of chemicals that harm the health of ourselves and our children, our pets and our friends, not to mention a whole world of wild creatures we never see or consider.

Chapter 9: Using Water Efficiently
This chapter explains how to design our landscapes so they need and consume less water including a section on collecting rainwater.

There is so much information packed into this book along with amazing photos and detailed drawings. Sue gives us an education in landscape design while opening our eyes to the possibilities of our individual landscapes. Her voice is full of common sense and charm. I highly recommend this book.

And, not only is the book fabulous, Sue’s publisher New Society Publishers has been Deep Green for over 30 years. They have produced the book on recycled paper made with 100% post consumer waste, processed chlorine free and old growth free. It’s a book you can feel good about buying for all the right reasons.

It’s time for us to imagine a new kind of landscape, one in which beauty is not just a social convention or a glossy magazine image, but also an expression of our social values. Now in the 21st century, we can design, build and care for our landscapes so that in addition to looking attractive they will also work for our own good and the good of the larger world.

For more information visit Energy-Wise Landscape Design.

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