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There’s no time like midwinter to start planning the changes you’d like to make to your garden this spring. The first seed catalogs are starting to appear in our mailboxes, and we’re adding some wonderful new books to our library.

Here are a few recommendations from the Home Outside design team: great resources for educating and inspiring property owners and gardeners. The emphasis is on beautiful, sustainable, low-water gardens that provide habitat for pollinators, beneficial insects, and wild birds.

Affiliate disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, Home Outside earns from qualifying purchases.

Give nature a hand.

When the 2019 State of the Birds Report documents the loss of 3 billion birds since 1970 and scientists report a decline in bee populations of nearly 40% last year, it’s encouraging to know that there’s a lot we can do in our own yards to help.

Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard by Doug Tallamy (Timber Press, 2020)

The Humane Gardener: Nurturing a Backyard Habitat for Wildlife by Nancy Lawson (Princeton Architectural Press, 2017)

The updated classic Planting the Natural Garden by Piet Oudolf and Henk Gerritson (Timber Press, 2019)


Conserve water in the home garden.

More and more areas of the U.S. are affected by drought, and many of our Home Outside clients are eager to ditch their thirsty lawns for more sustainable outdoor spaces. There are so many interesting and beautiful alternatives!

Dry Gardens: High Style for Low Water Gardens by Daniel Nolan with photography by Caitlin Atkinson (Rizzoli, 2018)

Johanna Silver’s The Bold Dry Garden: Lessons from the Ruth Bancroft Garden, with photos by Marion Brenner (Timber Press, 2016)

Get inspired!

Whether you long to make over your whole yard, or you’re just trying to figure out what to do with one little corner of it, it’s delightful to pore over hundreds of pages of photos and ideas.

And of course we should round out the list with New Landscaping Ideas That Work, the most recent book by Home Outside founder Julie Moir Messervy (Taunton Press, 2018). Many of our Home Outside designers contributed their expert knowledge of design, plants, and landscape details.