Spring is the time when I start looking through all my gardening books, and dreaming of what changes I'd like to make and what I'd like to plant in the garden. Since I live in an area that is normally quite dry and currently experiencing a drought, I'm always interested in finding ways to conserve water - and save on the watering bill! And I really like the approach Pam Penick takes in The Water-Saving Garden: How to Grow a Gorgeous Garden with a Lot Less Water. She offers a number of ways to save and conserve but isn't too heavy-handed or self-righteously preachy about it like I often see.
Penick explains different ways to take advantage of the rain like collecting it in cisterns, from rain barrels to giant thousand-gallon bins both above and below-ground. That's something I'll try to do this summer. She also talks about ways to keep the water on your yard longer with berms, swales, terraces, and permeable paving, giving it a chance to soak in instead of running off into the gutter. I do wish the section on graywater had been a bit fuller, but one tip I found very interesting - and which I'd never considered before - was to catch the condensate from the air conditioning unit, and it shows a picture with a bucket dug into the ground under the pipe.
Of course, she also covers planting options, from selecting native plants to grouping plants with like water needs to changing the way you water. She also discusses minimizing the lawn to what you really need and use - something I've always been hesitant about, since I grew up with a relatively expansive lawn where we ran over ever inch of it in our games and play. The plant section I thought was a little on the weak side, but this is information that is often regional and is probably best approached on an individual basis.
My only real criticism of the book is the format - a rather small font-type (I'm guessing around 9 pt Times New Roman) that gets even smaller in the photo captions. I probably just need to go get reading glasses, but I find it a bit of a strain on the eyes. Also, some of the pictures are very small - about an inch square - and one of the things I most love about gardening books is looking at the pictures. There's one in particular illustrating berms and basis where it took me a while to realize it was showing rain puddling around the trees and plants in a yard. But this book is better than some Ten-Speed books at minimizing the number of small photos, and the ones included are mostly very good at illustrating the ideas and not just being pretty.
Overall, this is a good book for those of us looking to cut back on our water usage. (I rec'd a free copy of this book from bloggingforbooks.com.)