Book Review: Energy-wise Landscape Design

Sue Reed’s book, [amazon_link id=”0865716536″ target=”_blank” ]Energy Wise Landscape Design[/amazon_link], fills a much-needed gap in gardening: everything you ever wanted to know about building a sustainable/energy saving garden.

Energy-wise landscape design

It’s heart-warming to see many old gardening practices highlighted as energy-saving techniques. Windbreaks and shade trees still play a key role in the cooling and heating of homes. Rain barrels and mulching also made the energy-wise cut.

Sue also discusses current thoughts on sustainable gardening — reducing/eliminating lawns, creating healthy working ecosystems and green roofs. I was pleasantly surprised to read about topics that I wouldn’t have thought to be part of landscape design: situating houses, earth-sheltered homes and renewable energy.

I loved the glorious detail on the nitty-gritty of landscaping. Ever wonder how wide your parking space should be? Did you know that driveways need a minimum turning radius of 15 feet? Have you ever wondered about dyed mulch’s drawbacks?

Occasionally, Sue lapses into preaching (an occupational hazard for most environmental writers). Sue’s defensive discussion on beauty and how it doesn’t fit with the energy-efficient landscapes seems unnecessary.

I advocate the Shaker philosophy on design: “Don’t make something unless it is both necessary and useful; but if it is both necessary and useful, don’t hesitate to make it beautiful.”

There’s no reason why energy-efficient landscapes can’t be beautiful too.

Unfortunately for people living outside the US, the book is US-centric. The different climatic regions — temperate region, cool-cold region, hot-humid region and hot-arid region — cover only the continental US. One useful resource www.chooserenwables.com, caters to US residents only. Sorry, Canadians and the rest of the world, you need to do your own research.

I hate to say this because I loved the book. But despite the everyday language, I found the book hard to read. Why? The text rambles! The wordy text hampers reading flow, and detracts from the strength and beauty of the energy-saving ideas.

Although none of the ideas are earth-shattering or brand-new, it does pull together all the information on sustainable/energy saving landscape. Sue’s background as a landscape design instructor comes to the fore … excellent discussions and explanations. The final prognosis? I recommend this book for every gardener’s bookshelf.

 

[amazon_link id=”0865716536″ target=”_blank” ]Energy-wise Landscape Design[/amazon_link]

 

 


Written by Cristina da Silva
Thursday, December 9, 2010 in Book & Product Reviews

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