Book Review: Low Maintenance Gardening

Low Maintenance Gardening:  Lawn & Garden Step-By-Step Visual Guide, by Anne M. Zeman

I will admit that one of my more unusual reading interests is gardening books [1], and this book provides a worthwhile approach to gardening books that is designed for someone not particularly unlike myself.  There are many approaches that an author can take when it comes to writing a book like this.  Some people may approach gardening with an eye towards self-effacing humor, which works.  Others may approach it with a certain political agenda, and usually I find that to be a dangerous approach because my reasons for appreciating gardening and even more than a little self-sufficiency have nothing to do with left-wing politics except for accidentally.  This particular book takes neither of those approaches and instead approaches the subject of gardening from the point of view of people who know what they are doing writing for those who are willing to take time to plan in order to keep things as low-maintenance as possible.  This approach is congenial, as I am someone willing to spend a great deal of effort on the front end to make sure that the stage is properly set and matters are planned well enough to require little ongoing effort.  The work spent on the front end is worthwhile if it makes operation easier.

As the contents of this book take up less than 100 pages, its contents are very straightforward and more than a little bit basic.  After introducing the concept of the low-maintenance garden, the author identifies the work that needs to be done ahead of time, what structural features are most useful to this end, as well as provides tips on evaluating property and developing an easy-care garden, in part through preparing a site plan.  Issues like doing it yourself or hiring help, renovating for ease of maintenance, drainage and soil issues, pathways, edgings, stone and gravel, in-ground irrigation as well as trip systems, fertilizers, mulch, lawns and trees, groundcovers, and shrubs,, and caring for bulbs, perennials, annuals, vegetable gardens, and meadow and ornamental grasses and wildflowers are all dealt with thoughtfully.  The book has excellent and compact text married to excellent photography and drawings, and the book is full of excellent and worthwhile advice that will likely help many of the readers who take up this book looking for guidance and advice in how to manage gardens well without requiring a lot of upkeep.

It is very easy to tell in this case what audience is intended for this book.  The audience is people who own their houses along with a little bit of property and who lack the time or the inclination to spend a lot of time taking care of large and useless lawns.  The fact that the authors assume that their readers can pay for a landscape architect without too much trouble suggests that they are assuming an audience with at least a fair amount of money and at least a Middle Class economic status.  On the whole, though, this book is congenial, as it assumes that readers like beautiful laws and gardens, have a taste for vegetables and fairly practical and native plants, and are willing to do at least a little bit of work in preparation and planning.  All of this suggests the sort of people that would be a good audience for nearly any book of this type, and the fact that the author does not waste time in providing sound advice and help is something that ought to be appreciated.  This is a book with a narrow target, but it definitely hits the target it aims at.

[1] See, for example:


About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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