Whether you live in Texas, California, the Southwest, the Midwest, or another drought-prone region of the U.S., The Water-Saving Garden offers environmentally progressive landscaping inspiration that goes far beyond mere cacti and prairie grass. It was just the book I needed on another cold, colorless Chicago winter day. Spring will come. It always does. Whenever spring happens to arrive–be it in March, April, or May–I’ll be out on the patio with a cup of coffee, this book, and graph paper.
Award-winning author Pam Penick begins with beautifully photographed real-life examples of several homes throughout the U.S. that have made the switch to water-saving gardens. She then discusses the details of harnessing rain through such forms as rain barrels, cisterns, rain gardens, and microbasins, as well as irrigation techniques for different types of gardens.
For my own purposes, the chapter on incorporating permeable surfaces into a water-saving garden was very useful. “Lake Pyrenees” forms at the back of our yard with each snow melt or heavy rainfall. If the right conditions exist, which they often do, our lake also becomes the source of the Sheepdog River, which ends in a muddy delta six feet from our back door. Our patio project last year has helped this problem immensely; rain water and snow melt is now channeled into our garage’s side garden. However, we are still fighting mud that the dogs track in from our undesired waterways. The Water-Saving Garden offers several affordable, attractive options for us to consider implementing this spring.
A chapter on mulch and soil should be valuable to new DIY landscapers and aspiring gardeners. I found the chapter on shade (for plants and people) unique for its coverage of delivering shelter and shadows through hedges, fences, and windbreaks.
Penick’s chapter “Lose the Lawn” is both informative and encouraging. I have always threatened to do away with formal grass. Now that the patio is in place on the south half of the backyard, the dogs’ running, galloping, wrestling, and bouncing has removed most of the remaining grass on the north half of our yard. The majority of our current landscaping efforts are focused on creating climate-friendly, dog-proof landscape that still offers room to run and play (the dogs, that is; although some outdoor playtime might be good for us as well). Someday, I want to be able to direct my efforts to decreasing the square footage dedicated to grass in our small front yard. Armed with The Water-Saving Garden, I should be able to find just the ideas that I need for plants, paths, shrubs, and trees.
Packed with beautifully photographed gardens, patios, paths, and other landscape features, this Penick’s resource should surely be of inspiration to landscaping do-it-yourself and gardening enthusiasts. A final chapter covers more than 100 drought-resistant plants, and recommended resources are appended.
The Water-Saving Garden: How to Grow a Gorgeous Garden with a Lot Less Water
233 pages (paper)
Ten Speed Press, 2016
$19.99 | ISBN 978-1-60774-793-2
Expected Pub. Date: Feb. 23, 2016
DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I RECEIVED THE WATER-SAVING GARDEN THROUGH THE BLOGGING FOR BOOKS PROGRAM FREE OF COST IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW. I WAS NOT PAID FOR MY OPINION. ALL OF MY OPINIONS ARE MINE AND MINE ALONE.