The Water-Saving Garden is a great book that is equally inspiring and technically helpful. The author, Pam Penick, is a garden designer and blogger who lives in Texas and so, as you can imagine, has a lot of experience creating gardens in water-scarce climates. As someone who works in the water resource management field, I think it is wonderful to see a book address the importance of smart landscaping and understanding your water source and usage.
The book is best for DIYers, for those who are ready and willing to put thought and effort into their gardens. I would say it is also good for people who are generally interested in creating a smarter garden but have not given it a lot of thought. This book will give you a lot of big-picture ideas as well as concrete examples. It made me eager to plan a garden even though I live in an apartment with zero outdoor space. A great pro of this book is that it really asks you to think of what you have, in terms of rainfall and temperature, native plant life, lot size and slope, and shows you how you can create a manageable and unique garden design that benefits rather than suffers from your natural environment.
It is divided into five somewhat thematic chapters. The first includes many case studies of thoughtful garden designs. The second chapter addresses water in many ways – how to save it, how to irrigate efficiently, how to create landscapes that move rainwater in a beneficial way. It is full of technical details and even explanations of some basic soil and fluid mechanics that reminded me of some of the design projects I did as an undergraduate in environmental engineering! I would say there’s a lot of good information in this book. The other chapters address plants, how to choose, when to plant, etc, and include a particularly whimsical section on how plants can evoke the idea of water.
The only cons I found about this book are that (1) I feel like the book would benefit from some more panoramic photos, aerial views, or even sketches of the garden layout and plans and (2) there are many tidbits of information but they feel spread out and at times unorganized. The book does not do well being read from page 1 to page 230 but probably works better if you pick the headers or chapter titles that you are most interested in at the time.
A final perk for me was that now I notice a lot of the techniques mentioned in the book being implemented all around me in southern California, and I really appreciate the homeowners and landscapers who made the decision to plant a less thirsty garden. 🙂