Featured gardening books with decorative flowers and a dirt background

Recommended Reads, Trends

9 gardening books to dig into for beginners to green thumbs


Apr 22, 2024

Today is Earth Day! Every April 22, we celebrate our planet and the importance of protecting the environment that sustains us. From cleaning up litter to doing your part to reduce, reuse, and recycle, there are many ways to be more aware of your impact. One way is to dig in and start gardening!

Here in the Midwest, by the time Earth Day comes around, I’m ready to have more life thriving around me. I’m newer to gardening, but each year I learn more and get excited to dig in! I keep adding devoted yard space and containers for gardening, including beautiful blooms to make sure the pollinators are happy, too. This year I decided to start many plants from seed, and I’m excited to see how they do throughout the season. Starting seeds allowed me (impatient) to start seeing life and growth before the outdoor conditions agreed.

Gardening in any capacity is great for your pollinators, providing them with food and habitat so they can do the work to bring us our thriving gardens. Plus, more green areas reduce carbon emissions, and it’s good for your own health to connect with nature, too.

We all have a shared responsibility to leave the world a better place, whether it’s through planting plots in your front yard or using business as a force for good. The creators of the Libby app, OverDrive, is a certified B Corporation and strives to enhance our global community with not only a LEED-certified facility, but through reading, learning, and the pursuit of knowledge. Watch the video to learn more about OverDrive's commitment and actions as a mission-based company (with a stylistic nod to Wes Anderson).

Enhance your knowledge of gardening and borrow one of these books on the Libby app. Happy Earth Day!

For the wildlife

The Ultimate Wildlife Habitat GardenThe Ultimate Wildlife Habitat Garden by Stacy Tornio

When they say ultimate, they mean it! Full of information for attracting wildlife to your yard and garden, this is a great resource with details on the wildlife itself and the plants and features that will attract said wildlife. This is great to flip through for ideas or head straight to the specific section you’re interested in exploring. In case you don’t make it to the “other wildlife” section, there are pages for opossums, and I’m always thrilled to see opossums around my area because they eat ticks! Supporting wildlife in your yard is a great and enjoyable way to help your local ecosystem.

Going green

The Green Gardening HandbookThe Green Gardening Handbook by Nancy Birtwhistle

No matter the scope of garden you have or want to have, here you can find green tips to make your gardening activities more sustainable. Enjoy the nice introductions that cover wardrobe and basic equipment, sprinkled with helpful upcycling tips. Breaking down each season to early, mid, and late, you can discover different plants for each season with suggestions for successful planting. The helpful tips are found throughout, even for tasks such as waterproofing boots. The sections on preserving your harvest and the recipes for your harvested foods are great, too!

Plant a buddy system

Plant PartnersPlant Partners by Jessica Walliser and Jeff Gillman

Starting new endeavors is often better with a buddy. Plants think so, too! As they look to survive and thrive, they can be helped by other plants. This book provides an overview of what companion planting is and how the partnerships are known to be beneficial to get you beyond just the folk tales of what plants like other plants — not to disregard this wisdom passed down as lived experience is valuable, too. Here, the science is explained, so if you don’t have years of your own experience, you can still benefit and understand the plant partners explored. Discussions include resource competition and sharing to show why some plants like other plants. Give your plants a friend!

If you favor flowers

The Ultimate Flower Gardener's GuideThe Ultimate Flower Gardener's Guide by Jenny Rose Carey

Many gardeners love the bounty from their food producing plants, but flowers are also great for gardening. Whether you’re looking to add flowers to partner plants, attract pollinators, add color, or start a full-on flower garden, the information here will help any size flower garden flourish. There’s a helpful flower gardener’s calendar and color profiles if you’re looking for specific colors to fill your yard. Many people, myself included, tend to start with just picking out flowers that appeal to them. But by taking a closer look at flower options, you can coordinate flowers for a fantastic flower bed. Plant height, flower shape, color, and plant needs are all things to consider to make your flower garden thrive.

Handling changing conditions

The Climate Change GardenThe Climate Change Garden by Sally Morgan and Kim Stoddart

With changing climate, you’re likely seeing changes to the seasons and weather where you garden that can have an impact on how you manage your outdoor plants. Be it heat waves, flash flooding, changing frost dates, and more, this book takes a look at ways to prepare your garden to withstand these changing conditions. One example is a rain garden, which can help with heavy rains, be ornamental and look great, all while being a resource for wildlife.

Stepping outside the box

Rebel GardeningRebel Gardening by Alessandro Vitale

Gardening can be done anywhere, even in small urban yards. Part of rebel gardening is finding what works for you, even if that means going outside of conventional methods. There are warnings to not get overly excited and start too many seeds too early inside (oops). Topics explored include choosing the right plants for your zone, preparing for the changing climate, and being ready to adapt. Full of a variety of ideas to fit your needs and space, there are so many ways to garden. In all gardens, more biodiversity makes for a more resilient garden.

Starting a homestead

Epic HomesteadingEpic Homesteading by Kevin Espiritu

People may have different ideas about homesteading. In this book, homesteading is looking to have some level of self-sufficiency in a way that’s good for you and the environment while using modern technology. There are different ways to approach this, and the look at this urban homestead provides great insight into considerations if you’re looking for some degree of the homestead life. It covers all of your curiosities, including starting a garden, differing size projects, seed starting, orchard tips, energy options and considerations, raising chickens and bees, and preserving harvests. There’s also a helpful chart of garden production per adult in terms of growing amount and space.

Dig in deeper

The Science of GardeningThe Science of Gardening by Stuart Farrimond

If you want to really dig in to gardening and understand more about your garden, this book is full of great information, including how gardening is good for the environment and answering all your plant-growing questions. There are simple answers alongside the scientific explanations, such as what plants need to grow. This book exemplifies that it can be easy to overcomplicate gardening — plants have basic needs and if they look sad, one need is not being properly met. The deeper understanding is also explored in these pages for the curious readers.

It’s for everyone!

Gardening for EveryoneGardening for Everyone by Julia Watkins

Covering all the things you need to know to get started gardening, this book really is for everyone and anyone! There are details on the seasons, planting, and plant needs, as well as an overview for popular garden plants. The plant profiles are super helpful! With details on planning, planting, tending, and harvesting, everyone can learn more about their garden from this book. There’s also a section for play, as gardening can be work, but your garden is also to be enjoyed. With projects and recipes to help you work and enjoy your garden, find ways to extend your garden fun!

*Title availability may vary by library & region.

Whether you’re a green thumb or just getting started, check out these helpful gardening guides on the Libby app and dig in!

RELATED READ: The best book & plant pairings for budding botanists


About the Author

Tori Casper is a collection development librarian at OverDrive, where she helps public libraries build and highlight their digital collections. Outside of work and reading, she enjoys hiking, gardening, wildlife photography, and planning trips to national parks. Tori is always happy to discuss all the books with strong nature settings.


Never miss a post

Get the best in books straight to your inbox weekly!
Unsubscribe anytime!
Stay connected

Follow for updates on TwitterFollow for updates on InstagramFollow for updates on FacebookFollow for updates on TikTok