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Gardenista: The Definitive Guide to Stylish Outdoor Spaces

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Our homes' outdoor spaces can—and should—be as welcoming and carefully considered as our living rooms; when treated as extensions of our homes, these spaces enrich our lives immeasurably. That was the guiding principle when, under the direction of editor in chief Michelle Slatalla (whose New York Times style columns were weekly must-reads for a decade), the team behind Remodelista.com launched sister site Gardenista.com. Like Remodelista, Gardenista caters to an older, more established audience (75 percent of readers are over the age of 35) and is known for its sophisticated, well-edited aesthetic.

The book contains lushly photographed tours of 12 enviable gardens; planting guides for a variety of climates and color palettes; in-depth case studies on more than a dozen outdoor structures (from yoga studios to chicken coops); do-it-yourself projects; easy-to-implement design ideas; “The Gardenista 100,” a guide to timeless everyday objects for the outdoors; plus advice from landscape professionals. Equal parts inspiration and expert intel, Gardenista is both a perfect starting point and an all-in-one manual when questions arise.

408 pages, Hardcover

First published October 18, 2016

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About the author

Michelle Slatalla

14 books5 followers
Michelle Slatalla is a New York Times featured columnist and author of the book The Town on Beaver Creek: The Story of a Lost Kentucky Community. She is also a public speaker, and gave a lecture about "How Internet Has Changed Our Lives" at an alumni luncheon organized by the University of San Francisco. Her presentation is available at The MBA Podcast. She currently writes a weekly column for the New York Times called 'Cyberfamilias' which comments on how the Internet is changing family lifestyles. She lives in San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and her three daughters.

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5 stars
79 (26%)
4 stars
99 (32%)
3 stars
91 (30%)
2 stars
30 (9%)
1 star
4 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 43 reviews
Profile Image for Cheryl.
750 reviews18 followers
April 20, 2018
Gardenista: The Definitive Guide to Stylish Outdoor Spaces by Michelle Slatalla was, for me, no where near, especially with so many shots being indoors. The gorgeous cover misled me to think there would be an abundance of garden rooms, instead I was shown way too many patios, decks, saunas, steps, doors, windows, and kitchens with merely a handful of actual garden images in the “Thirteen Gardens We Love” section. Each told about the gardener and their garden, with a “Steal This Look” section for points of interest after every showcased space. It was everything I ended my subscription to Fine Gardening because of. (When I buy a book or magazine about gardens, I expect to see gardens, not pools.) I would have been happy if they gave more extensive page allowance to the actual gardens of “The Antiquarians at Home” and their gorgeously lush terrain and “ The Fairy-Tale Garden in the City” with its notes of whimsy in a walled her yard. Both, by no coincidence, in London. The “Color Stories” chapter did present more delights via the English gardens shown and one Californian. I did appreciate the 10 design ideas. “Finishing Touches” were a waste. (A plain mailbox. A Stackable washer dryer..in the garden?) And then The Gardenista 100: 36 pages of their picks for outdoors, that included a promo paragraph and where to find it with image. This, to me, was the biggest waste of space. Basically, it was a catalogue with 2-3 images per page taking up pages I would rather see noted items being used...IN A GARDEN! Following that was the “Expert Advice” section, which actually held some interest. “Before You Dig, was informative to the novice. “Where to Splurge, Where to Save” was common sense with no revelations. “Small Details, Big Impact” had some good tips. “Getting (environmentally) Friendly” was also a good section. “The Process” went into creating a team to do your garden for you. Then “Resources We Swear By” .. another catalogue section, but without the pictures. Then finishing up with a list of their Featured Architects, Designers, and Landscape Architects” before the index pages. At $40 for this hardback, I recommend waiting for a soft back version at (hopefully) half the cost. I would not call this a total waste, but from page 292 on, it came close. 389 pages, not including index, 8x10, full color images.

Thank you NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book.
Profile Image for Natalie.
69 reviews
January 4, 2017
Basically a catalog of expensive-looking tools and methods. Not enough great photos, not very accessible to anyone who does not already consider themselves "gardening elite." And honestly, not enough green! This seemed to be more about everything in a garden that is not plant-related.
Profile Image for Lorilin.
757 reviews241 followers
May 18, 2017
Gardenista is all about the outdoor garden. There are a whole lot of inspirational backyard jungles to look at in here, and though they are all gorgeous, this is not a book for the everyman gardener. Most of us are not going to be able to copy these looks. I’m talking about indoor atriums and walled-in courtyards and 25-foot ponds located on sprawling acreage of native grasses and flowers.

Still, the book is stunning and fun to look through. It’s divided into six parts. Part One features inspirational gardens located mostly in California, New York, Massachusetts, and London. Part Two discusses attractive garden color palettes–but, honestly, this felt more like an extension of Part One’s drool-worthy gardens. Part Three offers ideas on how to elevate outdoor living “rooms,” and shows examples of eat-in kitchens, porches, glamping spaces, and courtyards, among others.

Part Four is a smorgasbord of DIY ideas for making your outdoor spaces more interesting and functional. So, for example, it shows you how to create your own work table and make a rolling container garden. It also suggests projects like installing a dog shower or using a tree branch to hold your hose. There are also more practical ideas relating to hardscape, like creating interesting paths and improving drainage.

Part Five offers a selection of favorite gardening tools and decorations. As a beginning gardener, I found this section to be helpful. (I never knew legit plant misters existed! I’ve been using a ghetto plastic spray bottle this whole time…). But don’t expect to find specifics on brands or where to conveniently locate certain items. The author does suggest websites for every item listed, but when I visited some of the sites, I found them to be super specific. As in, this company only sells gardening gloves. And that one only sells flower pots. Also, many of the websites aren’t American. So it’s great that you really love that beautiful modern plant stand, but you’re going to have to go through a Finnish website to buy it. Not the most practical for me…

Part Six is a wee little section (by far the shortest of the book) that shares gardening tips from the pros. Despite its brevity, I found it to be useful.

Ultimately, I loved Gardenista. It’s garden eye-candy at its finest. The book is inspirational, though not the most practical for the everyday gardener. Regardless, I still loved looking at these pages and seeing all the prettiness that could be.
Profile Image for Pam.
1,594 reviews
February 3, 2017
Despite the fact that this book focuses on professionally designed gardens of rich people and it promotes expensive gardening accessories, I liked the book. Why because many of the gardens had interesting contemporary elements that I could imagine creating. But the main reason is that many of the gardens shown are relaxed comfortable gardens rather than the artificial mulched regimented gardens you see across the American suburban landscape. The author promotes leaving your lawn a little bit long, letting plants grow and tangle together. What a wonderful concept! It is what I do because I have more ideas and plants than energy!
Profile Image for Annie.
1,344 reviews31 followers
May 14, 2020
If you're someone who knows nothing about gardening and thinks it's just another room to decorate you'll probably love this book. It's full of hoity toity garden designs that any gardener who actually digs in the dirt will laugh hysterically at. The only ones I found interesting were roof top garden inspired by NYC's Highline and London Winter Garden Conservatory.

Lots of suposedly minimalist stuff thats just downright plain and/or ugly. Things like a bucket under a faucet to wash the sand off your feet. Put your toilet paper on a tray in the outdoor bathroom, so it won't get wet on the floor. Have your washer and dryer on your back deck. This is not going to impress people. Trust me I know this I live in the sticks. I've seen this in real life.

Boring plant choices. Actually tells you where to buy a Mother In Laws Tongue Houseplant. Make some gardening friends, someone will give you one. If not they sell them at Walmart.

I'm so glad I checked this out from my Library and didn’t pay money for it.
Profile Image for Julie Brock.
181 reviews
March 8, 2017
This was a very soothing book to flip through as escapism. I was able to give it a 5 star rating because, unlike some of the other reviewers, I was under no delusion that I would actually try to plant such gardens. Yes, they require a lot of money and a certain amount of space, but I just wanted to look, not recreate them - hence, no frustration. :)
Profile Image for Phyllis.
810 reviews41 followers
February 20, 2018
Color photos, close-up shots of plants and architectural elements, descriptions of specific features and owners' decisions...this book provided inspiration and ideas to incorporate and dream about.

I enjoy visiting/touring local residential gardens so when I heard about this book, which features thirteen gardens located throughout the world, I knew I had to read it. I found it interesting that several of these gardens are situated in California, and ironically a few in my town of Mill Valley! In fact, I'm pretty sure I've visited the author's garden on a tour last year. This made the book even more enjoyable. Plus, three years ago we landscaped our front outdoor space and are continually tweaking it as well as starting to work on a side yard - fun to compare the ideas in this book with my plans.
Profile Image for Candy.
125 reviews57 followers
October 9, 2020
How you know you’re getting older: you enjoy looking at lawns and analyzing the details of other people’s landscapes. Noting the types of grasses, trees, fences, gates, ornamental grasses, flowers, shrubs, sheds, benches, fountains, rocks, lighting, garden beds, patios, porches, fire pits, tools, and walkway designs …. let’s just say creating tranquil ambience via outdoor living is an oddly calming / wonderfully time consuming activity. Can someone really get tired of looking at pretty outdoorsy spaces for ideas or inspiration? Hopefully not but flipping through these pages should pump enough endorphins and provide ROI.
Profile Image for Carolyn.
349 reviews3 followers
February 17, 2022
This one was super fun. The first part was a section on pretty gardens (they tended to alternate: one I loved, then one I would hate), and then the content just kept coming. There’s a section on using color (with more gardens), an ideas section on neat things to build in your yard, a section of DIYs to revamp your potting shed corner, the Gardenista 100 top garden tools & supplies, a section of tips on working with a professional garden architect, and, finally, a list of recommended shops.

I liked how well-written this was. I sat around and giggled at the descriptions of garden implements. 🤷‍♀️ I also spotted some things to try in my garden in a couple of problem spots.
Profile Image for Lime.
122 reviews
May 5, 2017
I was lucky enough to win this book from the publisher. While many of the gardens featured are very attractive, they are all large and expensive, and are beyond the reach of most people. The design ideas at the back are quite laughable, and include how to paint a fence black (hint: it involves getting black paint and a paintbrush), and how to ruin the look of wood-handled tools by painting them a glossy black. I love plants and gardening, and I got a couple of ideas from this book, hence the 2 stars. A bit of a missed opportunity really, this could have been a much better book.
35 reviews
May 13, 2018
Consider this to be a design/decor book for gardens. It’s not a how-to manual and I don’t think it proclaims to be so I think reviewing it as such does a disservice to potential readers!

I really enjoyed seeing the differences in the various landscapes shown and hearing why each owner or designer chose to do things as they did. Although I’m just a regular person trying to make my yard look nice without paying a fortune, I gathered a lot of insight from these stories that I could apply to my own property. I recommend it for sure.
Profile Image for Katrina.
20 reviews
June 18, 2017
Great ideas, many of them with restricted colors (although I gravitate towards this too).
I hate the author went from California, NYC, The deep south and then London but forgetting even a hint of midwest zones.
So she touches on 3 areas where one could adapt a design but no one in IL or Michigan or even Canada. This was disappointing. I also am curious if she gave stores a shoutout for a gift card or something (snicker) if she received a compensative reward, good for her.
Profile Image for Benjamin Chandler.
Author 17 books19 followers
May 15, 2017
A nice collection of images and ideas for designing your yard. Not everything dazzled me, but there were some very nice gardens pictured with some lovely ideas to put in my back pocket in case I ever get to design a back yard.
Profile Image for Lise-Lotte Loomer.
Author 1 book2 followers
March 2, 2017
I really enjoyed this book. I also know that I will go back to it often to re-visit ideas.
Profile Image for Rachael.
128 reviews11 followers
May 7, 2017
Good variety of gardens, I liked the supply list and store options in the back, easy to pick and choose which ones to read about. Doesn't need to be read start to finish.
Profile Image for Onceinabluemoon.
2,560 reviews59 followers
July 8, 2017
Love to garden and always enjoy garden pics. Liked the addition of products and places to purchase.
702 reviews
April 5, 2018
I love this book! It’s beautiful, filled with incredible and inspiring outdoor spaces. I can’t but it down! I especially enjoyed the advice from the pros and the Gardenista 100 list.
Profile Image for Sharron.
2,070 reviews
June 11, 2018
More an upscale shopping catalog with great photos than a how to manual. Fortunately I borrowed it from the library so my investment other than my time was nil.
Profile Image for Summer.
550 reviews
February 11, 2019
It's a very pretty book with plenty of aspirational gardens to drool over. Overall, not terribly useful as a book for garden planning, but plenty of ideas with a decent variety of spaces and styles.
Profile Image for Nina Leung.
186 reviews1 follower
December 7, 2019
Excellent resource for creating any garden, big or small. There are many details that I never would have thought of on my own. And of course the beautiful gardens featured in the book are inspiring.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 43 reviews

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