24 of the Best Gardening Books for Beginners in 2023
INSIDE: The ultimate guide to the best gardening books for beginners. A certified gardener selected her top picks. All are great books for beginning gardeners in 2023!
We live in an era of instant everything. Instant rice, instant communication, and most importantly … instant-dry nail polish!
But one thing you can’t speed up is your garden.
I learned that lesson when my fourth-grade teacher had us start sunflower seeds in a paper cup.
I woke up each morning excited to see how my seeds were doing.
Had they sprouted overnight? Did they need to be watered? When would they be ready to go outside? When would they finally bloom? How would the sunflower seeds taste when they were ready to be harvested?
That experience taught me hard lessons about patience in the garden. No matter how hard I wished my plants would grow faster, they wouldn’t.
But at the end of summer, when those seeds had morphed into 6-foot tall sunflowers with blooms as wide as dinner plates, I became a passionate gardener.
And maybe you want to grow a garden for the same reason.
Or maybe you want:
- your family to have greater access to healthy, high-quality food and know where their food comes from
- to spend more time in nature, put your hands in the soil, slow down, and reduce your stress
- to give your kids the same experiences you had as a kid – like picking ripe raspberries with jammy red hands, eating just as many as you put in your bowl
Or maybe you simply want to bring more beauty into your world.
And even though your garden, like my fourth-grade sunflowers, can’t be rushed, there’s one thing about gardening you can accelerate.
You can become a gardening expert sooner by investing in a few good books that’ll give you the knowledge and confidence you need to succeed.
That’s why I’ve put together this list of the best gardening books for beginners.
And even though this list of gardening books is perfect for novice gardeners, experienced gardeners will also learn a lot from these books.
As Cicero said, “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”
Well, everything except the instant-dry nail polish!
What’s in this article:
This post may contain affiliate links. So, I may get a small commission if you buy something after clicking through. I only link to products I would recommend to my best friend.
What makes this list of books on gardening for beginners different?
This isn’t a compilation of other people’s reviews of gardening books, like other lists you may come across online.
I’m pretty obsessed with gardening books and have read hundreds of them.
I own and have read (and have used) all the books on this list.
And I have high standards for what makes it onto this list. There are plenty of so-so gardening books out there, but you won’t find them here!
A gardening library filled with quality gardening books will improve your gardening skills no matter how long you’ve been gardening.
After all, no one’s born knowing how to garden!
1. Plants You Can't Kill: 101 Easy-to-Grow Species for Beginning Gardeners by Stacy Torino
Think you have a black thumb? Get ready to change your mind! Stacy gives you practical advice about the most dependable plants you can grow.
With more than 100 easy-to-grow vegetables, flowers, herbs, trees, shrubs, and even houseplants to choose from, there’s something for every newbie in Plants You Can't Kill. If you get just one gardening basics book, this should be it!
2. How Plants Work by Linda Chalker-Scott
This book will change how you garden! Understanding how plants work is vital to being a successful gardener.
And How Plants Work, written by a horticultural expert, is easy for non-scientists to understand, so you’ll be able toso you’ll be able to pick up basic gardening terms quickly.
It has a conversational style and is filled with interesting and useful information that’ll help you make more informed choices in your garden and give you two green thumbs!
3. The Truth About Garden Remedies: What Works, What Doesn't, and Why by Jeff Gillman
If you’ve spent any time online searching for answers to your garden problems, you’ve seen plenty of home remedies out there. But which ones really work? Is Epsom salt a miracle cure like some claim? What about using vinegar on weeds? And does corn gluten really work?
You’ll get answers to these questions and more! The Truth About Garden Remedies offers something for all gardeners, no matter how experienced you are.
4. The Month By Month Gardening Series (for U.S. gardeners) by various authors
Written for gardeners in the U.S., these regional garden guides tell you what to do month-by-month in your state or region. They cover soil building, ornamental gardens, lawns, veggie gardens, and shrub and tree care.
They’re the perfect introduction to gardening in your region for first-time gardeners!
Find your state or region in the list below:
- Eastern U.S. New England (CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT) | Mid-Atlantic (VA, WV, DE, MD) | New York & New Jersey | Pennsylvania
- Midwest U.S. Illinois, Indiana & Ohio | Michigan | Minnesota & Wisconsin
- Southern U.S. The Carolinas | Deep South (AL, LA, MS) | Florida | Georgia | Tennessee & Kentucky | Texas
- Western U.S. Arizona, Nevada & New Mexico | California | Pacific Northwest (WA, OR, N. CA) | Rocky Mountains (CO, ID, MT, UT, WY)
Prices last updated on 2023-01-31 at 03:50
1. The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible by Edward C. Smith
This organic guide to gardening is my favorite vegetable gardening book.
You’ll learn how raised bed gardening and organic methods will make your garden more productive.
This is the gardening roadmap you need if you’re a new gardener or have been gardening for a few years but don’t feel like you’ve gotten the hang of growing edible plants. The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible includes almost every vegetable and culinary herb you can think of and has detailed growing information, including raised garden tips.
You’ll discover how to set up your organic garden by first creating healthy garden soil. And with the easy-to-follow instructions, a list of the author’s favorite gardening tools, and tips for pest control, you’ll be on your way to growing your perfect garden in no time!
2. The Week-by-Week Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook by Jennifer and Ron Kujawski
For backyard gardeners who live in cold climates (zones 4-6), you’ll learn how to manage your schedule and prioritize what’s important in your garden.
It’s the perfect book for garden planning because you’ll always know what to do and when to do it.
And it’s filled with gardening tips throughout.
If you live outside zones 4-6, The Week-by-Week Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook might not work for you.
3. The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener by Niki Jabbour
Learn Niki’s simple techniques for growing vegetables year-round. The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener is a fantastic guide to growing vegetables whether or not you’re interested in gardening year-round.
She profiles vegetables from asparagus to zucchini and gives you a timeline for planting. You’ll learn when to start seeds indoors, transplant, or direct sow in both spring and fall.
And as a bonus, she provides detailed instructions for building the cold frames that are featured in the book!
4. Growing Perennial Foods: A Field Guide to Raising Resilient Herbs, Fruits, and Vegetables by Acadia Tucker
While designed for gardening newbies, this book will appeal to experienced gardeners who want to widen their garden palette to include these more resilient crops.
Depending on where you live, some of the plants listed in Growing Perennial Foods won’t be true perennials for you, but many will be.
And as a bonus, after each plant profile, there is an easy yet delicious recipe that’ll encourage you to eat the unusual varieties you’ve grown.
Best flower gardening books for beginners
1. The Flower Gardener's Bible: A Complete Guide to Colorful Blooms All Season Long by Lewis and Nancy Hill
Grow the garden of your dreams with The Flower Gardener's Bible. It’s loaded with expert advice for new and experienced flower gardeners. Learn how to plan for all-season bloom, prepare your soil, and care for your flower garden.
2. Encyclopedia of Garden Plants for Every Location by The Smithsonian
With more than 2,000 recommendations in the Encyclopedia of Garden Plants for Every Location, gardeners in every situation will find ornamental plants that’ll work in their garden. With detailed descriptions and beautiful photography, this enormous book deserves a place on every flower gardener’s shelf.
3. Annuals, Perennials, and Bulbs: 377 Flower Varieties for a Vibrant Garden by The Editors of Creative Homeowner
You’ll learn crucial flower gardening techniques such as how to improve your soil, design your flower garden, and care for your flowers. It even includes tips for container gardening with flowers.
This guide has more than 600 photos and step-by-step instructions.
And the garden design section alone is worth the price of Annuals, Perennials, and Bulbs. Learn how to use color in your garden, select the right plants, and where to place them.
4. Bloom's Best Perennials and Grasses by Adrian Bloom
How do you know you’re making the right choice when selecting perennials and grasses for your garden?
With 250 choices that are reliable, beautiful, and easy to maintain, you’ll find answers in Bloom's Best Perennials and Grasses. Adrian supplies growth, care, and design tips that you can use no matter the size of your garden.
1. The Garden Primer by Barbara Damrosch
You’ll find wise and practical advice on planning a garden, recommended plants, pest management, and the best tools to buy. Entire chapters are devoted to every type of plant, from annuals to vines.
While there are books that cover these topics in greater depth, you won’t find a better introduction to organic gardening than The Garden Primer.
If I had to recommend only one gardening book to new organic gardeners, this would be it!
2. Weedless Gardening: The Hassle-Free All-Organic System by Lee Reich
While there’ll always be some weeds in your garden, the simple and easy methods taught in Weedless Gardening will show you how to keep them to a minimum by ditching the conventional advice to till your soil.
You’ll also learn how to reduce your water use, protect your soil, and grow healthy plants. And you get helpful information about growing vegetables and ornamental plants.
It’s the perfect introduction to self-sufficient organic gardening!
3. Let it Rot: The Gardener's Guide to Composting by Stu Campbell
All organic gardeners should know how to make good compost. But a lot of information about composting can seem intimidating to the first-time organic gardener. How do you get the carbon, nitrogen, moisture, oxygen levels right?
This easy-to-understand guide breaks everything down with no fluff added, and tells you what you need to know to get started. Be sure to leave space on your shelf for Let it Rot.
4. The Truth About Organic Gardening: Benefits, Drawbacks, and the Bottom Line by Jeff Gillman
The Truth About Organic Gardening takes a nuanced approach to the common belief that all organic products and practices are “good” and all conventional ones are “bad.”
You’ll learn how to think about what you’re doing in your garden, and why you’re doing it. And in the process, you’ll make well-informed, more effective choices for your garden.
1. The Perennial Care Manual by Nancy J. Ondra
If you grow any perennials, you should own this book! This book is written in an approachable style for new gardeners and gives general perennial care advice in addition to detailed information on 125 popular perennials.
You’ll learn what perennials to choose for your garden, and how to take care of them. If you only own one perennial care book, The Perennial Care Manual should be it!
2. The Well-Tended Perennial Garden: The Essential Guide to Planting and Pruning Techniques by Tracy DiSabato-Aust
It includes thorough details on the essentials of perennial care—including deadheading, pinching, thinning, and dividing. But it also covers detailed growing information for many perennials and includes a monthly planting and urban gardening maintenance schedule.
One of the best features of the book is the thirty-six different lists of plants sorted by maintenance requirements. These allow you to choose plants from a particular list (tolerates clay, drought, deer, etc.) and then go back to the alphabetical listing for more information about that plant.
3. The Homeowner's Complete Tree & Shrub Handbook by Penelope O’Sullivan
Have trees or shrubs in your yard, or want to add more? Then you need this essential guide to choosing, planting, and maintaining trees and shrubs.
With a focus on selecting the right plant for the right place, you’ll learn how to add texture and shape to your garden with trees and shrubs. The Homeowner's Complete Tree & Shrub Handbook includes more than 350 plant profiles and discusses the best cultivars. You’ll also learn how to care for your selections.
4. Tending Your Garden: A Year-Round Guide to Garden Maintenance by Gordon and Mary Hayward
Perfect for beginners and intermediate gardeners, this book will help you keep your garden or homestead looking its best year-round.
All the seasonal tasks you’ll need to do are detailed in Tending Your Garden: preparing a garden bed, pruning trees and shrubs; planting, staking, and dividing perennials; and edging, deadheading, and weeding. You’ll also get many tips for reducing garden maintenance.
1. Weeds of North America by Richard Dickinson
Every garden will have some weeds. And to defeat your weeds, you have to be able to identify them. That’s where this book has your back. It covers more than 600 species at every stage of growth.
My favorite thing about Weeds of North America? It has close-up photos, which makes identification easy!
2. Garden Insects of North America by Whitney Cranshaw
This is the most comprehensive guide to the insects you’ll find in your garden! Featuring 3,300 full-color photos and detailed descriptions, this book covers the hundreds of species of insects (good and bad) that you’ll find in your garden.
Garden Insects of North America tells you where you’re most likely to find the insects, which is helpful for identification. (Dr. Cranshaw was one of my instructors when I became a certified gardener, so I can tell you first hand he knows his stuff!)
3. What's Wrong With My Plant? by David Deardorff and Kathryn Wadsworth
It can be difficult to diagnose and deal with a sick plant when you’re new to gardening. What's Wrong With My Plant? will help you get to the cause of the problem quickly and suggest solutions. It also includes photos of common plant problems, which makes identification easier for newbies.
4. 50 Beautiful Deer-Resistant Plants by Ruth Rogers Clausen
As a new gardener, your first thought when you see deer in your yard might be, “Bambi’s come to visit!” But after they’ve chewed your precious plants to the bare stalks you’ll start wondering why hunting isn’t allowed in the city limits.
The problem? You’ve most likely planted some “deer candy” – the plants the deer love the most. With 50 Beautiful Deer-Resistant Plants by your side, you’ll discover what deer do and don’t like to eat. Plant more of what they don’t like, eliminate their favorite treats, and they’ll stay away.
Share your pick for best beginner gardening book
Did I miss any great books? What do you think is the best gardening book for beginners? Share in a comment below!
Hi, I’m Cheryl Spencer, a Certified Gardener.
Born with a plant addiction that has no known cure, I became a Certified Gardener to help ease the symptoms. Now I write articles and create gardening products that help you save time and money in your garden. I believe you can grow your dream garden and still have time to enjoy it. The good news? Anyone can do it. Start here »