Need Help?

Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

See website, design work and favorite flowering plants at

Consultation and coaching for do-it-yourselfers is provided. Occasional emailed questions are welcome and answered free of charge. Oui, je parle francais.

See my work on Pinterest at Garden Guru Montreal

Entries in Energy-Wise Landscape Design (2)


Energy-Wise landscape Design: Book Review for

Energy-Wise Landscape Design by Sue Reed, New Society Publishers

Don’t let the title of this book put you off. This may sound like a technical or an academic publication, but it is not. It reads like a friendly user’s manual. It explains how some landscaping design ideas help to conserve energy. With clear and clever illustrations by Kate Dana, and with simple step-by-step suggestions, the author coaches us into creating a sustainable, energy-efficient property. Primarily, the book explains how to help cool a house in summer and warm it in winter, using sun, wind, trees and plants. In addition, the goal of the book is to help property owners use less energy in building, landscaping and maintaining homes and gardens. A long term objective is to reduce dependence on foreign energy and to improve the environment.

The book is divided into 7 sections: In sections 1 and 2 suggestions are offered on how to arrange the landscape in order to make houses more comfortable in summer and winter. Included are the role that tree placement plays in providing shade in summer, the strategy for capturing cooling breezes, and reducing ground heat that surrounds a home. The winter section explains how to maximize the sun’s heat, plant windbreaks and buffers, and position the home to deflect wind.

Sections 3 and 4 provide design ideas for saving energy in the landscape. These include the use of regionally native plants that harmonize with local soil conditions and the re evaluating of the lawn in order to conserve water and operating energy for mowers. This section also offers help in designing properties that sparingly use electricity for outdoor lighting and watering systems. Further topics discussed here are the using of slopes to their ecological advantage, the efficient use of landscaping materials, optimal locations for homes in relation to sun and wind, and designing a car park area constructed with the least amounts of energy and natural resources.

Section 5 advises the reader how to develop and care for a landscape while conserving energy. Topics include the role of top soil, amendments, plants, mulch, wildflowers, planting techniques, low maintenance lawns, and water conservation.

Section 6 instructs the small property homeowner how to generate energy from wind, sunlight and flowing water.  

Section 7 offers a discussion about energy efficient outdoor lighting.

The book is rounded out with a helpful appendix that, among other things, instructs on how to determine a pitch of a slope or a tree shadow’s size and direction. This is followed by an invaluable appendix listing the size of the the shade canopy of trees.

Sue Reed is a landscape architect and educator. Her focus is environmentally sound, energy efficient and sustainable landscape design and she has worked in this field for over 25 years. With a style of writing that is easy to absorb, she has created a valuable manual that readers will enjoy exploring. The ideas and suggestions found in this book are described in such simple detail that anyone will be able to adapt them to a variety of different landscape projects. Sue Reed is a gifted writer with a remarkable ability to tackle complex, technical information, distill it down to its essence, and explain it in everyday language. This reviewer hopes she will write more.



Tying UpTwo Loose Ends About Earth Day

Spring came early to Montreal this season and that gave my garden design business a jump-start. However, it put a wrinkle in other plans; for example, the posting of some book reviews are backing up. That is disappointing; especially for one new book that deserves special mention at this time. With Earth Day to be celebrated next week, it would have been timely to post a review of Sue Reed’s new book Energy-Wise Landscape Design. That subject is most appropriate for Earth Day and for all year round, as well. I am so intrigued by the meandering path on the cover of her book, that I can hardly wait to read it. A review will be posted here in the near future.


This image first appeared on the website Gardening Gone WildFor over forty years, the media has consistently reported that  the members of the rock band The Rolling Stones are very intelligent, well-educated people. Therefore, it came as no surprise when accomplishments of its brilliant keyboard player, Chuck Leavell, were reported in Fran Sorin’s newest posting at Gardening Gone Wild. It is titled "Down to Earth With a Rolling Stone", and well worth reading.  Why would a renowned garden writer like Fran write an in-depth article about a rock star? The answer is that Chuck is very active with conservation and environmental issues. This is the second time in two weeks that Fran has written a fascinating character study that deals with the human side of horticulture and gardening. This unabashed fan of Fran Sorin is most appreciative.