Ground Rules (★★★★★)

Ground Rules

Kate Frey   •   Timber Press   •   November 13, 2018   •   216 Pages

Goodreads | Amazon | BN

Just like the title says, author Kate Frey gives 100 of the easiest and most important lessons she’s learned in her many years of gardening. The book is divided into seven sections, and together they offer a “system of practices and design considerations that address every aspect of gardening.” The sections cover:

  1. Design (paths, seating, color combinations, etc.)
  2. Planting Advice (plant for your region, weather, and location).
  3. Soil (how to identify the soil you have and then amend it)
  4. Water (conserve, use drip irrigation, don’t plant plants that can’t realistically grow under the water conditions you currently have)
  5. Be a Good Garden Parent (deadhead, divide plants, don’t let weeds go to seed)
  6. Attract Birds, Bees, and Butterflies (attract insects with specific plants, water features, etc.)
  7. Create a Garden of Earthly Delights (how to evoke emotion and create community through plants)

Most of the info in this book is basic, and if you’re already an experienced gardener, the advice may not rock your world. But I still found some new-to-me helpful hints that I will definitely use in the coming seasons. My favorites:

  • Plant in groups no bigger than three. I always hear “plant in groups of three,” but this is the first time I’ve heard that clumps of 4+ plants don’t look that great.
  • Plant smaller plants. Apparently, it’s easier on plants to buy them small so they can grow root systems adapted to your specific growing environment. A bigger plant at the nursery may be more established and stronger where it is, but once that plant moves to a new environment, it will have trouble adjusting.
  • Mulch most plants once a year. I was always unsure about how many times to mulch, but now I know.
  • Use cardboard covered with one to three inches of mulch in the fall. It helps protect plants while putting nutrients back into the soil.

Ground Rules is a fun book. It’s best for beginners, but more seasoned gardeners may find it useful, too. I’m in charge of the garden at my kid’s school, and we have a lot of parent volunteers. I’m already thinking that this book would make a great thank-you gift for them.


Thank you to Timber Press and Net Galley for the Advanced Reader Copy!

3 thoughts

    1. Haha, we’ll see if it works. I put down cardboard (with compost on top) in one of our raised beds, so I’m curious to see if it actually makes a difference come spring. I guess it’s a fun experiment either way, tho. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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