Our core resources

Below are some of our favorite resources for habitat gardening. I think if we had read and studied only these, we would have learned all the basic concepts.

I also describe more resources we've learned from and enjoyed, as well as plant reference books and websites.

Books we'd recommend

We've read a lot of books, articles, and website materials over the past years. Most all of them were interesting and useful, but these few stand out. They changed how we thought about our land, inspired us to change our landscaping practices, and gave us the information we needed to do so.

The Living Landscape

The Living Landscape: Designing for beauty and biodiversity in the home garden by Rick Darke and Douglas Tallamy.

Awesome! This book offers a very comprehensive view of what creates a living landscape as well as a beautiful landscape. Indeed, this book addresses the very idea of "beautiful," a very welcome discussion as our society's current view of "beauty" is a sterile landscape of lawn and a few ornamental plants.

It also offers practical tips on how to create a multi-dimensional landscape that supports life not only in your own yard, but in the world beyond your yard.

I don't view this as a substitute for Bringing Nature Home, but as an extension of its ideas. It's still worthwhile reading the books below!

Bringing Nature Home by Douglas Tallamy

Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Garden by Douglas Tallamy.

We had already had a habitat garden for about ten years when this book was published. Even though I had read a lot about habitat gardening at this point, I found this book transformative. (We aren't the only ones who have found this book enlightening. It has become an extremely popular book.)

Based on his research at the University of Delaware, Tallamy explains WHY habitat gardens are so important. We now have new appreciation for how our landscaping choices are essential for preserving biodiversity on earth. To get a taste of Tallamy's ideas, here's an article called "Gardening for Life" that he wrote for Wild Ones Journal.

Noah's Garden by Sara Stein

Noah's Garden: Restoring the Ecology of Our Own Back Yards by Sara Stein.

After The Landscaping Revolution (described in More resources), this is the next book I read. It tells the inspiring story of how Stein "un-gardens" the ornamental landscapes she created after discovering that all the creatures she had previously enjoyed had disappeared after she had removed their native habitat.

She implemented many of Tallamy's principles years before science validated her practices. She focuses on recreating native plant communities more than do most books.

Planting Noah's Garden by Sara Stein

Planting Noah's Garden: Further Adventures in Backyard Ecology by Sara Stein

Also inspiring, but deals more with the nitty-gritty details than does Noah's Garden. Stein offers many charts, lists, and so on to help create natural plant communities. (Unfortunately, it seems to be out of print—why do they do that to these classics?—but it's often available as a used book, or at least in the library.)

Designing Gardens with Flora of the American East

Designing Gardens with Flora of the American East by Carolyn Summers.

Based on Tallamy's principles, this book offers many practical ways to implement them in beautiful and life-supporting landscape designs.

An exceptional resource for both homeowners and landscape professionals, especially if they want to have a conventional-looking landscape that is also earth-friendly.

Attracting Native Pollinators

Attracting Native Pollinators: Protecting North America's Bees and Butterflies by The Xerces Society

I loved the previous Xerces book, Pollinator Conservation Handbook, but this successor is fantastic. It's extremely well-organized, comprehensive, and very accessible to a layperson like myself.

Highly recommended resource about an extremely important issue—helping conserve our native pollinators!