Book Review of Energy-Wise Landscape Design by Sue Reed

Reading this thorough design primer is like getting to chat with a knowledgeable and friendly expert for a few hours about how to create effective windbreaks, conserve on your heating and cooling bills through landscaping, create new energy sources to reduce your dependence on the grid, and generally preserve and conserve at every step in your landscaping process.

What I liked best about the book is that Reed doesn’t assume any previous knowledge, but neither does she dumb down the content. I could see this being used as a textbook in landscape design courses to help students thoroughly understand the concepts behind her advice. But even though she’s thorough, it doesn’t read as a traditional boring textbook; I really enjoyed that she took a conversational tone in the book that made it easy to read.

If you have a new home and are crafting the landscape, just one of the tips in this book can save you much more than the cover price.

Even if you have an existing home, this can give you some tips that will allow you to gradually change a few elements of your landscape to make better use of your time, energy, and gas/electricity use.

The book has black and white photos, so it isn’t meant so much as a coffee table book where you just look at the pictures, but if you’re willing to take the time to read the parts that are relevant to you and understand the concepts, you’ll be in a great position to garden in an environmentally-friendly and money-saving way.

Since I was recently appointed to my city’s Design Review Commission, I was particularly pleased to get to read this book to remind myself of some of the ways that good design can have  big impact on sustainability.

If you know someone who has read Doug Tallamy’s book Bringing Nature Home and is looking for more ways of supporting the environment through gardening, then this would make a great gift.

Read more here:

Sue Reed’s Energy-Wise Landscape Design Website

Read the reviews of Energy-Wise Landscape Design on


3 responses to “Book Review of Energy-Wise Landscape Design by Sue Reed”

  1. Hi Gen,

    Sue’s book sounds very interesting and will definitely be added to my winter reading list. I’m especially intrigued by your comment about it being used as a textbook, it must be filled with practical knowledge. Just the type of book I love! Congrats on being appointed to your city’s design review board – what a great way to give back.

  2. Funny you should post this review today Gen, as I just had it in my hands yesterday, and have been considering purchasing it. After reading your review and your comments regarding Tallamy’s book, I’m sold! And to echo Debbie’s comments, Congratulations on your appointment to the design review board. I hope that your city realizes what a talented and thoughtful person (read: asset) they have to lean on.


  3. Mmmm, I love Bringing Nature Home, now you have me interested. Thing is, though, I love to overplant. And I often pick a plant that needs to be pruned annually…. No matter, the book still sounds interesting.