10 Of The Best Gardening Books For 2023
Are you a die-hard green thumb looking for the best gardening books out there? Whether you are a novice gardener or an old pro, we’ve got the perfect selection of titles for you. From tried-and-true tips to innovative techniques and modern ideas, these must-have picks will get your gardening juices flowing.
One thing I’ve learned over my many years of gardening.
No matter how long you’ve been doing it, there’s always something more to learn.
Like most people, I often search the internet to find answers to my questions.
But sometimes it can be hard to find what you’re looking for. And the information isn’t always correct.
Which is why I also have a large collection of gardening books from reputable sources that I trust. They’re still a great educational tool.
So I thought I would share some of my favorites in case you’re wondering which ones are the best. (And yes, I do actually own all of these 🙂 )
These days, I like to buy the Kindle version of the books because you can search through the text to find all mentions of a particular plant or idea.
Not to mention I have no room in my house to store more books.
And they’re usually less expensive.
The only exception on this list is the last one (Square Foot Gardening). The kindle version is poorly formatted which makes it almost impossible to read, so I had to return it and get the printed version instead.
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For people who just want “the answers”, here’s the list. For everyone else, scroll down to find out more about each book.
Best for beginners: Rodale’s Basic Organic Gardening*
Best reference book: Rodale’s Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening*
Best for creating a flower garden: The Flower Gardener’s Bible*
Best for perennial pruning: The Well-Tended Perennial Garden*
Best for selecting plants: Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers*
Best for diagnosing & solving problems: The Organic Gardener’s Handbook Of Natural Pest And Disease Control*
Best for container gardening: Container Gardens: Over 200 Fresh Ideas For Indoor and Outdoor Inspired Plantings*
Best for garden design planning: Encyclopedia of Landscape Design*
Best for vegetable gardening in raised beds: The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible*
Best for square foot gardening: All New Square Foot Gardening*
Best Gardening book for beginners
If you are new to gardening, then this is the book for you.
Rodale’s Basic Organic Gardening contains everything a beginner needs to know to get started.
Rodale is one of the leading publishers on organic gardening. And I believe if you’re just starting out, you may as well go organic right from the beginning.
This book walks you through all the basics:
- How to create your garden beds.
- Common vegetables, herbs, annuals, perennials and bulbs you might want to plant and how to care for them.
- Watering, mulching, weeding, organic fertilizer, pest and disease control for maintaining your garden.
- And even includes definitions of gardening terms so you know what people are talking about.
Best gardening reference book
If you prefer a book that you look things up in (rather than reading something from cover to cover), Rodale’s Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening is a great option that can be used by both beginners and experienced gardeners.
It contains an alphabetical listing of everything gardening – trees, shrubs, perennials, fruits and vegetables as well as gardening concepts (such as Animal pests, Annuals, Asian Vegetables, etc.).
In all cases, there is a thorough description of the term, concept or plant along with other important information such as problems, pruning, planting, harvesting, etc.
Since it is from Rodale, it is an organic gardening book, but it is a great reference even if you’re not specifically looking for that.
Best for creating a flower Garden
If you you want to learn more about creating and maintaining a flower garden, The Flower Gardener’s Bible is a great resource.
It starts with an in depth description of everything you need to know to grow annuals and perennials – soil, planting, transplanting, pests, growing from seeds, dividing, etc.
Then there is large section that describes different garden styles (eg. cottage garden, rock garden, wildflower garden, etc.).
Each garden style includes pictures, tips on how to make it work, a design plan with specific plants to create the garden and a list of other plants that suit the style. This is really helpful if you want to start a new perennial garden and aren’t sure where to start.
Finally, there is an alphabetical list of about 400 annuals and perennials with the basic plant information (such as zones, bloom time, etc.), a picture and a description.
These individual plant listings also include companion plants and suggestions for the best varieties, which is useful when you are trying to narrow down the choices for a flower garden.
Best For Perennial Pruning
If you already have a perennial garden and need some help knowing how to maintain it, The Well Tended Perennial Garden is what you are looking for.
It has a section on planting and growing perennials, but the reason I like this book is for the pruning information.
It has a large section on pruning, deadheading and pinching back perennials in general.
Then it includes a plant encyclopedia of a few hundred perennials, with in-depth pruning tips for each plant, in addition to standard growing instructions.
There are also lists of perennials by maintenance needs, such as “perennials that will bloom again after deadheading”, “perennials that require division every 2 to 3 years”, “perennials that grow in wet soil”, etc. Which makes it easy to find plants for your garden conditions.
Best for selecting plants For Different Conditions
For experienced gardeners who just want to find plants to put in a specific location, the Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers is my go-to book.
It has three sections – the plant selector, the plant catalog and the plant dictionary:
- The plant selector lists plants for different conditions, such as clay soil, sandy soil, drought-tolerant, etc. These are literally just lists with the names of the plants.
- The plant catalog lists plants by type (eg. trees, shrubs, perennials, etc.), season of bloom, size and color making it easy to find suggestions for a specific site in your garden. There is a brief description of each plant along with a picture and all of the necessary planting information such as zones of growth, light requirements, and water requirements.
- The plant dictionary is an alphabetical list of thousands of plants with a brief description along with different varieties (but no picture).
I like to use the plant selector and plant catalog sections to find the plants I want to use. Then look them up in the plant dictionary to get a little more information about them.
If you are not gardening in North America, the zones listed are based on the American system. However, they give a description of each zone at the beginning of the book so you should be able to figure out which one most closely matches your location.
Best book for diagnosing & Solving plant problems
The Organic Gardener’s Handbook Of Natural Pest And Disease Control is a great reference for looking up all kinds of plant pests and diseases, and how to treat them.
The book is broken up into a number of sections that help you find what you’re looking for.
- The first section gives general instructions on how to plant your garden to prevent pests in the first place.
- The second provides natural solutions for problems listed alphabetically by plant, which includes trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, bulbs, vegetables and herbs. This is my go-to chapter when I have a plant that isn’t doing so well.
- Then there’s an alphabetical list of pests and how to control them. Great if you happen to know what type of insect or pest problem you have (this includes pests such as deer and rabbits).
- Next is a list of insect damage symptoms and what kind of insects might cause them. Which is perfect if you know what the problem looks like but aren’t sure what the plant is.
- Finally, there’s a list of disease symptoms, what kind of disease causes them, and how to treat them.
This is another Rodale book, so it is geared toward organic gardening.
But they do include some chemical controls as “last chance” options.
These are always clearly marked as such, with a description of the harm they could cause. So if your garden is all-organic, you can avoid them.
Best container gardening book
When I’m looking for some planter inspiration, the Container Gardens book is my favorite.
It covers the basics (such as planting, drainage, watering, and maintaining containers) but the main focus is on designing them.
There are tips on how to create showstopping plant combinations, plants to use for different looks (eg. “A few green orbs”), and lots of inspiring pictures, many of which have plant recipes so you can duplicate them easily.
With sections on hanging plants, using edibles in containers, and indoor containers as well as the standard pots and window boxes, there are a wide variety of options to choose from.
Best For Garden Design
The Encyclopedia of Landscape Design is just what it says, everything you need to plan an outdoor space.
It goes through the steps of how to design garden, common garden styles, structures, furniture and accessories.
It includes examples of garden designs, tutorials for building structures, instructions for planting the garden, and even some suggestions for plants based on size and type.
So it’s a great all-round reference if you are designing your own garden.
But the reason I like it so much is because of the pictures.
There are tons of them. So even if you aren’t designing a whole garden, it’s a great way to get ideas to add to your yard.
Which also makes it a great coffee table book if you get the hard cover version.
Best For vegetable gardening In Raised Beds
If you’re interested in growing produce in your garden, The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible is all about using raised bed to grow vegetables and get the most out of them.
This book covers everything you need to know about raised bed gardening (most of which also works if you aren’t using raised beds):
- how to build raised beds
- diagrams for where to put the plants
- how to sow seeds
- irrigation systems
- keeping the weeds down and pests out
- fertilizing, composting, and mulching
Plus a few things I wasn’t expecting. Like how build an unheated greenhouse and grow lettuce in it in the winter!
At the end, there’s an alphabetical plant encyclopedia of many vegetables and herbs along with sowing times, growing conditions, and best varieties.
Best for square Foot Gardening
If you like the idea of growing vegetables in your garden, but don’t have a lot of space, then the All New Square Foot Gardening book is for you.
Square foot gardening is something I want to try, since I like growing vegetables but don’t want to give up much of my flower garden to do it 🙂
This book tells you everything you need to know about growing herbs and vegetables in a small area:
- how to build the boxes
- laying out the plants (he gives you some specific diagrams)
- what plants can be grown in the same boxes one after the other.
- planting, maintenance, watering, etc.
- alphabetical list of vegetables and how to grow them
Note: Don’t get the Kindle version of this book, it has a lot of display issues.
Well, that’s it for my list of the best gardening books. Hopefully, you’ve found a few that are helpful!
Other gardening ideas you might like
- The best gardening apps
- The best online nurseries
- Bushes to plant under trees
- Secret garden design ideas