Monique Allen writes Stop Landscaping, Start Life-Scaping from the perspective of an experienced professional landscaper determined to help home gardeners build gardens they cannot resist.
Allen addresses the process from the beginning and into the future, including how to determine what kind of gardener you are, hiring appropriate landscape professionals (if needed), and making the long-term commitment to your land.
Planning is the keystone to a healthy, enjoyable garden, Allen notes. Gardeners must understand the systems at work, envision and plan the space before the first shrub is planted, and commit to the garden’s long-term care.
She divides gardeners into three categories: Actors, DIYers who want to save money or simply love getting dirty; Directors, who want to be involved in the process, even while hiring out some of the hands-on work; and Audience, those who prefer that professionals do the job. She also explains the different skill levels among landscape professionals—from those who mow and maintain to those who can help you realize your vision.
Allen doesn’t ignore the harsh facts of gardening: Landscaping can be expensive, its care demanding, and plants may fail to thrive if forced into unsuitable places or pruned to unsuitable forms. Eventually, plants will grow and/or die, changing your garden space.
Despite such warnings, the book is a delight to read. When Allen started, she didn’t even know what mulch was, so her advice is the kind you might hear from a more experienced neighbor or friend. It ranges from using vision boards to dream your garden (she admits this might seem “woo-woo and weird”) to working on the most-difficult-to-reach areas of the yard first to avoid tearing out fences or driving over new lawns or hardscapes later.
In short, this is an excellent addition to the gardening literature. It’s suitable for anyone who wants solid advice on tackling a garden project—a book sure to be read, reread and earmarked through the years.