Garden Renovation (★★★★★)


Garden Renovation

Bobbie Schwartz   *   Timber Press   *   October 25, 2017   *   264 Pages

Find this book on Goodreads | Amazon | BN

Bobbie Schwartz has almost fifty years of gardening experience, with forty of those years spent as a landscape designer. To say this woman knows her stuff is an understatement, and this book is a wonderful reflection of her knowledge and experience.

Garden Renovation is divided into six sections. Section One talks about recognizing the clues that your yard needs to be updated (such as overgrown plants, a lack of design functionality, no clear paths to the house, etc.), as well as tips for getting the process started (like knowing your budget).

Section Two covers landscape basics, like light conditions, ideal soil, sun and shade charts, awareness of animal life, and more.

Section Three, which is probably my favorite section, discusses different hardscape elements you can incorporate into your design. She showcases some beautiful paths in here, and I got a lot of good ideas from this section alone.


Section Four is a very general overview of types of plants. If you’re looking for specifics, you’re going to need to look elsewhere. Section Five is about putting your plans into action. This is a very short section, too, and it mostly talks about how to hire a landscape designer.

Section Six is another one of my favorites. It gives a few before and after landscaping projects. In my mind, it’s always fun to see a drab space transformed into something beautiful.

before and after garden

There are small vignettes throughout the book that highlight certain issues, and I actually found these to be incredibly helpful. I absolutely loved reading her opinions on buying native vs. exotic plants. She has such a balanced perspective, and her approach seems very reasonable and no-nonsense.

There is also a brief list of online resources in the back. These are informational resources, not product endorsements. So there are links to articles or websites that share info on plants, wildlife, weed control, mulching, stuff like that.

I really enjoyed reading this book. As a beginning gardener who also happens to be a giant book nerd, I’ve obviously read a ton of books on gardening lately, and Garden Renovation has become one of my favorites. And because Schwartz does most of her work in Zone 6, her advice is perfectly applicable to my garden in Chicago.

I highly recommend reading this book. And if you like this one, I’d also suggest Growing the Midwest Garden by Edward Lyon.

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