A Booksmart Review: Energy-Wise Landscape Design: A New Approach for Your Home and Garden by Sue Reed


Energy-Wise Landscape Design: A New Approach for Your Home and Garden
by Sue Reed (New Society Publishers, 2010)

Sue Reed does the seemingly impossible in Energy-Wise Landscape Design. In language that is at once practical and poetic, Reed challenges our notions of what defines beautiful landscaping, confronts our dependence on foreign oil, offers methods for harnessing nature’s own energy resources, and proposes step-by-step actions to make properties of any size energy efficient. And she does so without judgment.

Energy-Wise Landscape Design is this country’s most comprehensive compendium of ideas for a radical re-evaluation of the principles of landscape design. In chapters that range from “Shading the House” and “Installing and Maintaining Planted Areas” to “Situating New Homes with Energy in Mind” and “Capturing the Warmth of the Ground,” Reed walks the reader through every aspect of landscaping, poses a problem, then offers a solution. For example, in the chapter entitled, “Building Structures in the Landscape,” Reed discusses three actions that are common in contemporary landscape design and construction—laying patios and paths, building stone walls, and building wood structures—and offers practical tips that encourage conservation of energy in every step of each action. The chapter ends with a summary that reviews in straightforward terms the action and tips.

Reed’s genius lies in clear and accessible prose that will appeal to designer, builder, and homeowner alike. Her mastery of the subjects of energy conservation and landscape design lends the book its credibility. And her gentle approach to a complex and often vitriolic topic will convince readers of any political persuasion to consider energy as well as beauty when designing or redesigning their landscapes.

Reviewed by Lynn Felici-Gallant

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