Book Preview: Home Outside: Creating the Landscape You Love

Check this one out from the library before buying
Inspiring photos and advice

I like the premise of Home Outside:  Creating the Landscape You Love by Julie Moir Messervy – your home doesn’t end with the boundaries of your four walls.  Most homeowners have no problem choosing new paint colors, furniture or rugs to update their interior space but once it’s time to look at outdoor living areas they lose their confidence.

In Home Outside, Messervy walks the reader through a six-step process to ‘demystify the art and practice of landscape design’.  As a professional landscape designer, I can tell you the six-steps outlined in this book basically mirror the process I use with my clients. 
That’s a good thing.  Any way to make the process of landscape design more accessible to gardeners is to be applauded.  I would never advocate ‘giving your property a name’ – that’s just too hokey for me – and to tell you the truth, I don’t think the author makes a very good case for it either,  but the majority of the rest of the information is sound and makes sense.
 Home Outside does offer both photos from real gardens as well as plan view drawings to illustrate the six-step process that really make the text come to life.  The Cottage in the Woods case study in the Afterword of the book is an excellent addition which helps to illustrate how each of the six-steps was applied to one property.
While I enjoyed reading Home Outside and would recommend it to anyone thinking about designing their outdoor space, I think you’ll be better off borrowing this one from the library rather than buying it.  For the purchase price of $30, this book is not one that many gardeners will refer to time and again. Your money might be better spent on a gardening reference book that will be dog-eared in a few years or on a few perennials or a shrub to start personalizing your Home Outside.
 Note:  This book was provided to me free-of-charge by the publisher, The Taunton Press.

2 thoughts on “Book Preview: Home Outside: Creating the Landscape You Love

  1. Dear Debbie,

    Thanks so much for writing about my new book, Home Outside: Creating the Landscape You Love. I appreciate that you understand how important it is to demystify the landscape design process, not only for homeowners–who often don’t know what we professionals are able to do–but also for fellow professionals, who aren’t always able to articulate our process for our clients.

    Some of the steps of the design are harder to explain than others, since they refer to intuitive processes, rather than more practical information-gathering. For instance, in my chapter entitled, “Big Moves,” I explain the three organizing strategies I use to begin conceptual design for any project. The last of these has to do with finding a theme for your landscape–one easy way for a homeowner to understand this idea is to come up with a name for their garden. Hokey as it may sound, it works, for with a name or an underlying theme, the design and details can rapidly emerge. Have a look at this week’s blog ( to understand how this applies to one of our current projects.

    Home Outside includes 240 pages of design ideas, case studies, befores and afters, and drawings, all illustrated by 358 full-color photographs of landscape designers’ work from all around North America and beyond. It is my hope that the book continues to be a source of visual inspiration and practical advice for its readers. I agree that it’s very important to jump right in and get one’s hands dirty, but homeowners will find the process less daunting and, I hope, more rewarding if they read Home Outside before they begin.

    –Julie Moir Messervy

  2. Julie,

    What a pleasure to hear from you. Thank you for leaving the link to your post about the memorial garden in Beverly, MA. I enjoyed reading about it and the process you used to make the garden come to life.

    Identifying the beaver theme certainly drove many aspects of the design and choice of materials used. It is the ideal project to illustrate,as you said, how a theme can make the design rapidly emerge.

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