The Garden Landscape Guide

100 Best Books on Landscape Architecture, with short reviews

The first part of the below list was compiled by Tom Turner, from a UK perspective,  and the second part by Peter Monro (whose idea it was) from a US perspective. The lists of books are in alphabetical order not yet complete. Highly recommended books are shown in bold type. The books have links to the Abebooks website which usually has the lowest prices for 'pre-owned' garden and landscape books and allows delivery throughout the world. (See blog post re suggesting additions)

PART 1, landscape architecture books recommended by Tom Turner

  • Alexander, Christopher et al A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction (Oxford University Press, New York, 1977) [An inspiring book on the theory of site planning with specific practical advice on what types of space to make and how they should related to other types of space]
  • Alexander, C. The Timeless Way of Building Oxford University Press New York. 1979 [Explains the theory behind Alexander's Pattern Language]
  • Appleton, J. The Experience of Landscape John Wiley London 1975 [Appleton provides a theory of why places which offer both prospect and refuge appeal to humans whose ancestors were hunter gatherers]
  • Bacon, E. Design of Cities Thames & Hudson London 1967 [Beautiful plans, fascinating historical analysis and a theory of how to improve existing cities - by creating axes which are also movement systems]
  • Beardsley, J. Earthworks and Beyond Abbeville Press New York 1984 [Beardsley reviews the work of land artists - who design earthworks as fine art, not as functional landscapes]
  • Chadwick, G.F. The Park and the Town Architectural Press London 1966 [Still the most useful account of the origins of the public park movement - with 'public park' understood in the specialized sense of a space in public ownership which is laid out for recreational use, like a garden]
  • Clark, K. Landscape into Art John Murray London 1976 [An art historians account of how landscapes have been appreciated and represented by artists]
  • Cranz, G. The Politics of Park Design MIT Press Cambridge, MA. 1982 [Cranz gives a useful analysis of the political background to the provision and management of public open space]
  • Cullen, G. Townscape Architectural Press London 1961 [Cullen was an 'urban draughtsman' with an interest in design. He argues that urban space should be 'articulated']
  • Dreiseitl, Herbert, Waterscapes Birkhauser Verlag AG [Water is fundamental to life and Dreiseitl shows designs which are beautiful and sustainable - one of the rarest and best combinations of design objectives]
  • Forman, R.T.T. and Godron, M. Landscape Ecology John Wiley New York 1986 [Forman and Godron introduced the study of relationships between habitats in the landscape]
  • Francis, M. The Meanings of the Garden MIT Press Cambridge, MA. 1990 [Francis had a pioneering influence on the trend away from purely Abstract Style garden design: he argues that spaces can also have meanings]
  • Gothein, M-L A history of garden art 1928 [a little dated but an excellent book with so many old drawings and plans that it will always be a good reference book, also availale on the Garden History CD as on the Gardenvisit  website]
  • Geddes, P. Cities in Evolution Williams & Norgate London 1915 [Geddes was the first European to use the term 'landscape architect' as a professional title - and was also one of the most inspiring planning theorists of the twentieth century. His chapter on parks is a must read for landscape architects]
  • Halprin, L., Cities 1972 [A marvellous set of annotated photographs of cities by one of the most influential landscape architects of the twentieth century]
  • Hansen, R., Stahl, F., Perennials and Their Garden Habitats 1993 [The illustrations are dated and the climatic zone is Germany, but this book is outstanding for its theoretical approach to planting design, based on years of experimentation]
  • Hough, M., City Form and Natural Process: Towards a New Urban Vernacular 1989 [A great account of how to design cities with regard to the relationship between city forms and the natural processes upon which they depend]
  • Howard, E. Garden Cities of Tomorrow Faber & Faber London 1946 [Howard was a prime mover behind the Garden City Movement and remains the most profound thinker on the subject. He had a considerable influence on the Green Belt idea - and a much better appreciation of the idea's potential than his followers]
  • Hunt, J.D. Gardens and the Picturesque: Studies in the History of Landscape Architecture MIT Press Cambridge MA. 1992 [Hunt is a comparatively difficult author to follow, but hethe breadth of his perspective on garden history and theory is unmatched]
  • Hunt, J.D., Greater perfections: the practice of garden theory Thames and Hudson London 2000
  • Hussey, C. The Picturesque Frank Cass London 1967 [Hussey wrote the first and best book on the Picturesque with a deeper theoretical grasp than most garden historians]
  • Jacobs, J. The Death and Life of great American Cities Jonathan Cape London 1962 [Jacobs had the great advantage of being a journalist, not a trained professional. This let her appreciate profound truths about the life of cities and the partial death they suffered at the hands of trained professionals, such as architects and engineers]
  • Jellicoe, G.A. et al Oxford Companion to Gardens Oxford University Press Oxford [Much the best standard reference on garden history - and much more authoritative than the second edition, edited by Patrick Taylor]
  • Jellicoe, G.A. The Guelph Lectures on Landscape Design University of Guelph Canada 1983 [A valuable compendium of Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe's design drawings and the best statement of his theoretical views on landscape design]
  • Jellicoe, J.A. and Jellicoe, S. The Landscape of Man Thames & Hudson London 1975 [Brilliant illustrations and inspiring text - though more of a generalist summary than a theoretical treatment]
  • Jencks, C. The Language of Post-Modern Architecture Academy Editions London 1991 [An excellent  book on architectural theory by an author who went on to become a highly original garden designer and landscape architect]
  • Jencks, C. Towards a Symbolic Architecture Academy Editions London 1985 [Jencks account of his design for his own house and garden in London. Like Francis (see above) he believes that designs can and should have symbolic meanings.
  • Jones, J.C. Design Methods John Wiley & Sons London 1980 [No mention of garden design or landscape architecture but essential reading for anyone with an interest in design theory]
  • Jung, C.G. Man and His Symbols Aldus London 1964 [An illustrated book on symbols and their symbolism. Jung inspired Jellicoe but I don't think Jellicoe used this book]
  • Kaplan, R., Kaplan, S., Ryan, R., With people in mind: design and management of everyday nature Island Press Washington DC 1998 [A fascinating application of psychological ideas to design with nature]
  • Kassler, E.B. Modern Gardens and the Landscape Museum of Modern Art New York 1964 [One of the first, clearest and best accounts of the Abstract Style of International Modernist garden design]
  • Keane, Marc Japanese garden design 1996 [A good modern account of the development of Japanese garden design, though some may prefer Loraine Kuck's The World of the Japanese Garden 1968]
  • Keswick, M., The Chinese Garden 2003 [The best book on Chinese gardens since Osvald Siren's Gardens of China 1949]
  • Leopold, A. A Sand County Almanac Sierra Club San Francisco 1970 [This is not a book about design but it expresses the idea of "land ethic" which should govern relations between man and the land, just as conventional ethics govern relationships between people]
  • Little, C.E. Greenways for America Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore 1990 [An early account of greenways and how to plan them. Multi-purpose greenways are the most useful open space planning concept to have arisen in the second half of the twentieth century]
  • Lloyd, C., The well tempered garden ( 1987, 2003 etc) [Lloyd writes about England, but his approach to the aesthetic and horticultural aspects of planting, combined with a delightful literary style, has worldwide relevance]
  • Loudon, J.C. The landscape gardening and landscape architecture of the late Humphry Repton, Esq. Being his Entire Works on these Subjects. With an Historical and Scientific Introduction, a Systematic Analysis, a Biographical Notice, Notes London 1840 [John Claudius Loudon did landscape architecture a great service with his production of an edited compendium edition of the collected works of the colossus of garden design theory: Humphry Repton]
  • Marsh, William,  Landscape planning environmental applications [ McHarg's Design with Nature provides a basic framework for regional design and Marsh's book begins to fill in the details.]
  • McHarg, Ian  Design with Nature (1969 and several reprints) [The best and most influential book on landscape planning every written, and the most widely read landscape architecture book of the twentieth century]
  • McLoughlin, J.B. Urban and Regional Planning: A Systems Approach , Faber & Faber London 1969 [McLoughlin was an urban planner, not a landscape architect, but his 'systems view' of planning is more relevant to landscape than urban planning]
  • Meason, G.L. The Landscape Architecture of the Great Paintings of Italy 1828 [Meason invented the term 'landscape architecture' and this is the first book every published on landscape architecture. Only 150 copies were published and fewer than 15 survive - but there is a complete electronic copy, with annotated notes, on the Garden History Reference Encyclopedia CD]
  • Newman, O. Defensible Space Architectural Press London 1973 [Newman introduced the idea, still debated, that open space in cities can be designed to foster pedestrian safety]
  • Newton, N.T. Design on the Land Belknap Press Harvard 1971 [Still the best history of the landscape architecture profession and its deep historical roots]
  • Page, Russell, The education of a gardener, (1962 and many other editions) [Page writes about the everyday task of looking at gardens and thinking how to make them better. He loves plants but his concern is always with spatial design, as it should be. This was the first book I read on garden design and it was an excellent starting point.].
  • Potteiger, M, Purinton, J., Landscape narratives: design practices for telling stories John Wiley New York 1998 [Going beyond Francis' and Jencks' interst in meanings and symbols, this book examines designs as narrative]
  • Pregill, P., Volkman, N., The Landscapes in History: Europe and North America  ; John Wiley & Sons  1992 [A remarkably comprehensive book. Treating landscape architecture as 'design on the land' in covers the histories of design for religious sites, towns, agriculture, gardens and  parks.]
  • Rackham, O. The History of the Countryside J.M. Dent & Sons London 1990 [A UK-centric book but a profound history of the countryside, as a product of the interaction between man, animals and ecosystems]
  • Elizabeth Barlow Rogers Landscape Design: A Cultural and Architectural History  Harry N. Abrams (2001) [A good historical survey, with useful colour photography. Like Norman T Newton, Rogers interprets her subject rather broadly as 'design on the land']
  • Randolph, John,  Environmental Land Use Planning and Management [This book also expands on the work of Ian McHarg and covers the basic regulatory and management frameworks that directly affect landscape architecture practice in the US]
  • Reid G.W. Landscape Graphics   2002 [Good examples of hand drawing - and a record of 'how landscape architects drew' before the onset of digital graphics]
  • Repton, Humphry,  Collected works  [published in the early nineteenth century, these books had an immense influence for over100 years. Available on the Gardenvisit website]
  • Ruggles, D.F Islamic gardens and landscapes Penn 2008 [much the best general book on Islamic gardens - many of the others suffer from romantic orientalism]
  • Simonds, J.O Landscape Architecture, A Manual of Land Planning and Design  2006 [The classic work on site planning, dealing with functional aspects of the subject and treating design as an exercise in abstract composition (without regard to meaning, symbolism, narrative etc)]
  • Spirn, A.W, The Granite Garden: Urban Nature and Human Design by Anne Whiston 1985 [The title is confusing but the text is clear: cities require plans for earth, water, vegetation and air]
  • Spirn, A.W, The language of landscape Yale University Press 1998 [a perceptive landscape architect's appreciation of places around the world]
  • Thompson, I.H., Ecology, community and delight: sources of values in landscape architecture E&FN Spon London 2000 [A well-considered review of the way in which the classical Vitruvian design objectives relate to the discipline of landscape architecture]
  • Trancik. R., Finding Lost Space: Theories of Urban Design  1986 [A valuable compendium of urban design theory as it relates to the practical task of designing useful and beautiful space in towns]
  • Vitruvius, P. The Ten Books on Architecture Dover Publications New York 1914 edn [A translation of a fundamental Roman book which laid the basis for all subsequent design theory, including the theory of landscape architecture]
  • Waldheim, C., The landscape urbanism reader  (1997) [Brings McHarg's Design with nature approach to a welcome meeting with urban design theory]
  • Walker, P. and Simo, M. Invisible Gardens -- The Search for Modernism in the American Landscape MIT Press Cambridge MA. 1994 [A usefull book on Modern American landscape architecture]
  • Wang, T.C., Plan and Section Drawing (Landscape Architecture)  1996 [the examples are all hand-drawn and the principles will survive into the age of digital landscape architecture]
  • Whyte, W.H. The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces The Conservation Foundation Washington 1980 [Written by a former editor of Fortune Magazine, this is by far the best book ever written on the design of small public open spaces in urban areas. Every landscape architect should have read it from cover to cover!]
  • Whyte, W.H., 1968 The last landscape [Another brilliant book by a former editor of Fortune Magazine. Unlike landscape architects, he had a deep and sceptical appreciation of the socio-economic and political factors which affect the designed landscape]

PART 2, landscape architecture books recommended by Peter Monro

Books on DESIGN PRINCIPLES

A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction Christopher Alexander et al (Oxford University Press, New York, 1977)
Design with Nature, Ian McHarg (1994 reprint)

Books on HISTORY of LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE 

The Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening, Humphry Repton (London, 1803)
Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Architecture adapted to North America A.J. Downing (New York, 1841)
The wild garden William Robinson (London, 1870)
Colour scheme's for the flower garden Jekyll (Country Life Ltd., London, 1908)
Frederick Law Olmsted and the Boston Park System Cynthia Ziatzevsky.
Pioneers of American Landscape Design : An Annotated Bibliography, Edited by Charles A. Birnbaum and Lisa E. Crowder (U.S. Dept. of Interior, Wash., D.C., 1993) and Vol. II (1995)

Books on HUMAN RESPONSES TO LANDSCAPES 

The experience of Landscape, Revised Ed. Jay Appleton (1996, 300 pp., 47 b/w illus., PB, $47.95)
Social Life of Small Urban Spaces William H. Whyte ( The Conservation Foundation, Wash. DC, 1980)
Discovering the Vernacular Landscape J. B. Jackson (1984, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT)
The Death and Life of Great American Cities Jane Jacobs. 

REFERENCE BOOKS

Time-Saver Standards for Landscape Architecture, 2nd Ed. Nicholas Dines and Charles Harris (1997, 960 pp., 2,000 illus., HB., $125.00)
Hortus Third: A Concise Dictionary of Plants Cultivated in the U.S. and Canada the staff of the L. H. Bailey Hortorium, Cornell University (1976, Macmillan Publishing Co., New York)
Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs: An Illustrated Encyclopedia Michael A. Dirr, (1997, 492 pp., color photos, tables, HB, $69.95)
Native Trees, Shrubs and Vines for Urban and Rural America: A Planting Design manual for Environmental Designers Gary L. Hightshoe (1988 Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York)
American Plants for American Gardens: Plant Ecology - The Study of Plants in Relation to Their Environment Edith A. Roberts & Elsa Rehman, foreword by Darrel G. Morrison.(University of Georgia Press, 1996)  
County Soil Surveys by the USDA Soil Conservation Service . (US Govt.) 

Books on ARTS 

Color DrawingColor Drawing Michael Doyle (Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York,1979)

OVERVIEW books

Landscape Architecture, A Manual of Land Planning and Design  2006 , 3rd Ed. John Simonds (1998, 405 pp.,color and b/w illus., HB)
Introduction to Landscape Architecture Michael Laurie (1986, 248 pp., b/w illus., HB)
Design on the Land: The Development of Landscape Architecture Norman T. Newton (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1971)

 

For another list of best landscape architecture books see http://webdocs.dow.wur.nl/internet/lar/04-handleiding/ListLiterature.pdf

 

Reviews

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