First, we’re all agreed that “For Dummies” is a successful book franchise and nobody takes “Dummies” personally, right?  

Next, MAN, you’d never catch me trying to cover this huge, sweeping, controversy-filled topic!  But Owen does a great job at this thankless task and I’m glad HE did it, so I can just send readers to the product of his labors.  Here’s a sampling of my favorite parts of the book:

  • It includes silliness and bad puns and promotes “the totally cool art of junkscaping.”
  • In “What’s in it for you,” Owen declares that sustainable landscaping is “cheaper, easier to care for, more satisfying to live with, and much more interesting” than the alternative.  Amen.
  • It stresses the importance of beneficial trees and shrubs.
  • It declares that wildflower meadows, though “righteously sustainable”, are “not so easy.”  You bet.
  • After listing all the terrible things about lawns, Owen lists their benefits, including water absorption (unless the soil is compacted).  Wow, a fair and balanced assessment of lawns!

Now despite all this common ground I found with Owen (and more in Part 2), that doesn’t mean we agree on everything and it’s no wonder, since we garden in very different climates, too.  So let’s have at it!

To quote, “The sustainable strategy for dealing with less than desirable soil is to pick plants that like the soil you have.”  But what if it isn’t soil at all, just contractors rubble and clay?  Or what if you don’t want to limit your plant choice, perhaps drastically?  And he says that for clay soil, adding organic matter provides no long-term benefit.  Now I’ve never dealt with clay myself but isn’t adding organic matter what everybody recommends for it?

And I know he’s pro-mulch so I don’t get this:  “Maintaining a cover of mulch might help over years or decades but it won’t do you any good in the short term.”  Say it ain’t so!  I’ve been recommending mulch as the gradual, low-maintenance way to amend soil. 

In choosing groundcovers Owen tell us to “Avoid bee-attracting varieties like clover.”  Pass up the best damn nitrogen-fixer and pollinator-feeder on the planet?  I say: Get some shoes!

Now Owen’s not a blogger, Tweeter or Facebooker himself but he has agreed to play ball with us by responding to these posts about his book – in between his duties that actually pay the bills.  We hear ya, Owen.

Btw, Owen’s one of the two Garden Wise Guys of California TV fame.  His partner in crime IS a blogger – our pal Billy Goodnick.