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Top 10 Favorite Gardening Books (for you, or a friend!)

top 10 gardening books, loved and used on my urban homestead

I have always been a lover of books, and despite my interest in minimalism, I have never applied it to books. My home is filled with books, both ones I own and with ones borrowed from the library. The quantities of the type of books wane and wax with current interest. When I was a kid, it was fiction about horses (Marguerite Henry or SaddleClub, anyone?). When I started to learn to cook, it was cookbooks. Now, my book passion is for gardening books.

And I have a lot of gardening books- as I’ve discovered as I’ve started to pack up my house. Even with all the information on the internet, books are still my go-to source for information. Some are great, but some, quite frankly, suck. Some might be great if you’re on the East Coast, but worthless to us gardeners on the West. If you want to increase your gardening knowledge, have books handy for reference, or just lovely pictures to be inspired by, keep reading for my top 10 favorite gardening books, which are all titles that I own and love!

top 10 gardening books, loved and used on my urban homestead

Interested in starting or improving your edible garden this spring, but don’t have time to read through books to learn what you need to know? Enroll in our free Garden Planning Challenge to get 7 days of actionable items, worksheets, and all the details you need to know to plan and organize your 2017 garden- no books required!

Top 10 Gardening Books

Please note that all book titles are links to Amazon. These are strictly for your reference. I do not participate in affiliate programs, so I won’t get a cut if you buy from my link. I encourage you to support your local bookstore (they can order books if not in stock) or check them out from your library. 

Sunset Western Garden Book of Edibles. If you live on the west coast, you’re familiar with Sunset magazine and their iconic Sunset Garden Book, which is pretty much the garden bible of western gardening. However, they have a smaller book which is just the edibles! You don’t need to search through the 800 or so pages of their latin name organized Book, when you can easily consult the full color and easy details of the Book of Edibles. This is my number one book that I turn to when I need to remember spacing or feeding information.

Great Garden Companions, by Sally Jean Cunningham. Companion planting is a method of organic gardening that uses particular planting arrangments to create healthier plants and reduce the need for fertilizer and poisons. This is a great book for learning what edibles to plant alongside with other edibles, and I love Sally’s book because it also integrates flowers to encourage beneficial bugs.

Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden, by Jessica Walliser. Speaking of encouraging beneficial bugs, this is a great book to learn more. She gives profiles for all the different beneficial bugs that you might find in your garden, how they will help, and gives plant profiles so you know how to attract them. Her information is detailed, but in no way overly scientific.

The Complete Guide to Saving Seeds, by Robert Gough and Cheryl Moore-Gough. This is my go-to book when I want to know the best way to save seeds from a particular veggie or flower. It’s laid out alphabetically, so it’s easy to use. They also include a great section about seed saving and germination techniques.

The American Horticultural Society Pruning & Training I’ve looked at lots of pruning books over the years, and this is my favorite. It is in no way an exciting read- not something you want to curl up on the couch with, but it’s a great compendium of pruning techniques and the specifics for each type of plant.

What’s Wrong with My Plant (and How Do I Fix It?), by David Deardorff and Kathryn Wadsworth. This book is great for diagnosing what’s what with your plant. It’s set up as a flow chart, starting with questions like “is the plant wilted, yes or no”, “are the leaves yellow, yes or no”, etc., and then you go down the rabbit hole to determine what’s wrong. The organization can take a bit of getting used to, but consulting the book is much easier than googling “yellow leaves with holes” to figure out what’s wrong. Their solutions chapters aren’t the most complete, but it gives a good starting point for research.

Gaia’s Garden- A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, by Toby Hemenway. This is the best and easiest to understand title if you are interested in knowing more about permaculture. I’ve been lucky to attend lectures and workshops from Toby, and he’s great. He presents the information in an accessible way. The book discusses the permaculture concepts and principles, and also gives detailed how-tos for you to implement in your own garden.

The Bee Friendly Garden, by Kate Frey and Grechen LeBuhn. This is a beautiful book, not only for the information but also for the pictures. Co-written by the renowned garden designer Kate Frey, it covers how to create a flower filled yard to support biodiversity. It discusses not only how to garden for honeybees, but also native bees. I love the easy to consult ‘top lists’ of plants for superbloomers, bee-friendly trees, plants for both bees and hummingbirds, and much more.

The California Wildlife Habitat Garden, by Nancy Bauer. This is one of my most favorite gardening books that I’ve purchased this year, and it discusses how to attract bees, butterflies, birds and other wildlife to your yard. It’s easy to read, and gives information not only about the plants but also the wildlife, and also profiles and stories of other’s wildlife gardens.

California Native Plants for the Garden, by Carol Bornstein, David Foss and Bart O’Brien. I’ve mentioned this book before, in my gardening with native plants post, but it bears mentioning again. This is my go-to resource to understand the growing habits of our native plants, as well as to get plant community ideas for my designs. You don’t need to be a garden designer to appreciate this book, it’s useful to those who just love native plants or add more to their own garden.

What’s your favorite gardening book? Do you have any of these titles? Leave me a comment and let me know! 

And don’t forget to sign up for the free Garden Planning Challenge! Starts January 2, and only available for enrollment until then!


Looking for a gift idea for the gardener in your life, or maybe yourself? Check out our list of our top 10 favorite gardening books! All recommendations from our own bookshelf, that we use and love!

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