Seasons Logo Portland OR Vancouver WA SEASONS GARDEN DESIGNLLC
award-winning, sustainable landscape design
Phone Us Facebook Twitter Pinterest Houzz Email Us

Understanding Garden Design on Winterthur's shelves

"Thorough and thoroughly accessible..."
Carol Haggas, Booklist

Understanding Garden Design Cover

UNDERSTANDING GARDEN DESIGN: The Complete Handbook for Aspiring Designers

by Vanessa Gardner Nagel, APLD

Vanessa overlapped her lengthy commercial interior design career and started her own landscape design firm in 2002. After 40 years of gardening and over 30 years as a designer, she continues to design gardens in the Pacific Northwest, writes, and lectures about garden design and gardening. She is working on her second book for Timber Press.

Booklist Magazine's Top 10 Crafts & Gardening titles of 2010!
Oregonian columnist, Kym Pykorny's top garden books of 2010!

read the Garden Librarian's critique

Read Garden Rant's conversation about the book!

Designing a garden is a complex task. Where do you start? What kind of skills do you need? What are the logical steps in creating a design? How do you communicate your ideas to a client, and how do you accommodate a client’s requests while maintaining the integrity of the project? The answers to these questions, and many more, can all be found in Understanding Garden Design.

Most books on garden design focus on only one or a few aspects of garden design—choosing plants or creating a hardscape, for example. This comprehensive, accessible book lays out the entire process from start to finish in clear, precise language that avoids the pitfalls of “designspeak.” In fact, garden owners and clients of garden designers who want to understand more about the designer’s craft will be able to profit from the book’s lessons.

Among the many topics covered are how to document a site, how to determine what a client needs and wants from the garden, how to take architectural features into consideration, how to think about circulation and lay out paths, how to use basic design principles, how to work with plants, and how to create a final design. Practical aspects are clearly laid out, including working with contractors and staying on top of the various phases of construction.

This thorough handbook is profusely illustrated with helpful photographs and diagrams. A particularly interesting tool is the hypothetical garden plan that appears in each chapter to show how to apply the topics at hand.

A practical, logical approach to the planning, design, and installation of a garden, this volume will be an invaluable resource for students, landscape professionals, and garden designers.

Published by Timber Press, Portland, Oregon

"Your very elegant writing style and its emphasis on 'being' with the garden deeply resonated with me."
Larry, Portland, OR

Book review by Judith A.Hutchinson, ANLD, landscape designer in Portland, Oregon

A thru Z . . . soup to nuts,  this book has it all!

There couldn't be a better collection of all the things you need to know about landscape design in a single volume. This book could easily replace a half-dozen text/reference books in my design library.

Organized into a flow of tasks necessary to solve a hypothetical design challenge, the step-by-step chapters cover everything a designer, or homeowner, needs to use. The photographs are lovely and illustrate points in the text. Many are in the author's own garden.

Of particular interest is the chapter on working with a contractor. Knowing what to expect and how to deal with a landscape contractor and other professional services can not only save you and your client time and money, but can help you avoid the stress and mistakes that can arise from miscommunication or no communication.

This book is great. Kudos to Vanessa (and her daughter who needed it to be done), for writing an easy-to-understand book for anyone who loves the art of landscaping and garden design. This is a book to put on your Christmas list!

Thanks again to Vanessa and ANLD for my copy of this book that was the door prize at the 'annual picnic'  in August . . . I needed this "refresher course."

"I am really enjoying your book! Your approach to design has a lot of great information and I'm looking forward to trying some of your ideas out on my next project. I am intrigued by your method of calculating circulation. Plus you have included a lot of really valuable and practical information. It is a great book for the beginner and for more experienced designers as well as a good refresher for design concepts as well as the nitty gritty." 
Ellen Johnston, President of APLD Southwest Regional Chapter

"I recently picked up this book which has offered a wealth of information about things I thought I already knew. It is so nice to be refreshed and inspired and to see beautiful images! This is a great book for the expert and the novice. "
Lisa Port, APLD, Seattle WA

"You did a masterful job of including so much in just over 200 pages. "
Douglas Owens-Pike, APLD, Minneapolis, MN

Everything you need to know about garden design from concept through construction.