Book Review: Before & After Garden Makeovers

Before & After Garden Makeovers, by Vicki Webster and the editors of Sunset Books

One of the more important aspects of gardening is having a sense of imagination.  All too often when it comes to the physical world, we see how things are and do not pay enough attention to how they could be.  It is admittedly not very easy to see how things could be, especially when they are not very exciting or very attractive, but this book is very good at showing how the same space can be transformed with some imagination and attention to aesthetics and landscape design.  I do not consider myself an expert in this particular matter, but I do appreciate the way a good garden looks and enjoy going to gardens for fun, and there is a lot here to appreciate if you like gardens.  One of the particular joys of a book like this is the way that it can help the reader to visualize lawns and garden areas that look particularly ugly or particularly bland and see some ways that they can be made into beautiful gardens through a variety of means.  And those who are in the same boat as some of the people on here should take some of the hints on how to turn a bland or boring or empty yard into a beautiful one.

The book itself is about 150 pages or so and is very simply designed, beginning with some basic tips and principles and then filled with before and after looks at the same garden spaces, with lots of photos as well as maps that show the landscape design in the after gardens.  There are a lot of patterns that can be determined, in that the before photos feature boring or bare lawns most of the time while the after photos show the addition of such awesome things as putting greens (I want one of these in a future garden of mine), verandas, paths made of stone, as well as the addition of trees and sometimes wild looking patterns of flowers and hedges that resembles best an English garden approach.  More than that, though, this book shows the way that one can use one’s space to advantage, figuring out given the yard available how to turn it into a compelling garden through one way or another, which ends up looking very excellent and making the read a pleasant one.

If this book has any subtle point to it, it is the way that the author of the book points out that people can often use the help of a landscape designer when it comes to turning their boring lawns or even dangerous existing yards into beautiful and somewhat whimsical gardens.  Most people do not have a firm aesthetic sense of their own or know what is necessary to make a yard into a beautiful garden.  In addition, the people who build homes are often not very good at creating yards, not least because it is far easy to just plant some boring grass next to one’s boring sidewalk and to call it a day rather than think of ways to make homes distinctive in their landscaping.  And while I do not think that any of these gardens should run afoul of an overzealous HOA, there are at least a few of the more wild gardens here that might be a bit too wild for the tastes of some.  As far as I am concerned, these are beautiful examples of ways that boring or abandoned yards can be turned into compelling and attractive gardens based on the space that is available and some expense, but hardly overwhelming cost.

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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