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How Does Your Garden Grow?

The Best Books for Any Kind of Gardener

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • March 04, 2020

It may be hard to believe it if your yard is still covered in snow, but spring is just around the blustery, wintry corner! Don't know about you, but we can't wait to get out there and get our hands dirty. Gardening is one of the highlights of this warming season and we've got a bountiful crop of books offering inspiration and instruction.

Do you dream of having a veggie garden? Or is it showy blooms you want? Are you working with small spaces? Seeking drought-tolerant plants? Looking to get your kids engaged in the process? No matter your gardening goals, whether you're a newbie or a seasoned pro, here are the guides you need.

Sapling Seeders

Is it your first time breaking ground in your own yard? Or maybe you've been at it for a while, but would just like to have a better idea of what the heck you're doing out there. If what you want are plants that will thrive no matter what, here's a guide for Plants You Can't Kill by Stacy Tornio. And for the ultimate beginner's guide to starting a healthy garden, try Rodale's Basic Organic Gardening by Deborah L. Martin.

Kitchen Gardens

As the iconic Guy Clark song says, there's "only two things money can't buy: That's true love and homegrown tomatoes." Too true! Growing and eating your own veggies is pretty darn thrilling, and it's a terrific way to learn more about eating seasonally. In The Year-Round Vegetable Garden, Niki Jabbour teaches you how to keep the veggies coming through every season. For a more standard approach on creating a thriving vegetable garden try The Vegetable Gardener's Bible by Edward C. Smith.

Flower Power

A showy display of blooms is an instant mood booster. For a garden that will brighten up your life and help you fill your vases with colorful bouquets, pick up a copy of The Flower Gardener's Bible by Nancy Hill.

The Well-Tended Perennial Garden by Tracy DiSabato-Aust is another great option for floral fecundity.

Contained Spaces

Working with an itty-bitty yard or a modest community garden plot? It's truly amazing how much you can grow in a small area. Learn how to organize and maximize your tiny garden with All-New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew.

Another idea for limited space is to grow up, not out, using trellises and garden netting. Vertical Gardening by Derek Fell will show you how to create a garden that takes up less space using climbing plants and structures.

Plants in Captivity

Let's say you don't have a yard at all! That doesn't mean you can't have growing things in your life. Go ahead and plant your garden inside your house. But indoor plants present their own particular set of challenges. In The Complete Houseplant Survival Manual, Barbara Pleasant provides instructions for nurturing more than 160 different common houseplants.


Gardens that require frequent watering can be labor-intensive, not to mention expensive. Increasingly, the overuse of water for gardens and lawns also presents an environmental concern. So you may want to consider choosing drought-tolerant plants. The Colorful Dry Garden by Maureen Gilmer will give you suggestions for greenery that will thrive in arid climates.

Making the Cut

Pruning is an art and can have critical long-term effects on a plant's health, productivity, and beauty. Different types of flora demand different methods of trimming. Learn how and when to give your shrubs and trees a proper haircut with Pruning Made Easy by Lewis Hill.

Tiny Sprouts

Getting kids engaged in gardening has a host of benefits from built-in science lessons to outdoor exercise opportunities to getting them excited about eating their veggies. To get started on a gardening project with your young ones, try Roots, Shoots, Buckets, and Boots by Sharon Lovejoy. Start developing your own little bumper crop of budding gardeners.

Hopefully this leaves you inspired to grow stuff. We're certainly feeling the tingles of spring fever around here! Feel free to respond with any of your recommendations for gardening tomes.

Read more by Ashly Moore Sheldon

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