In spite of the cleverly coined title, the readers at whom this straightforward, easygoing guide is directed may not bother to pick it up. That would be unfortunate, for then they'd never become ``yardeners'' (``people who own plants but do not consider themselves gardeners or regard gardening as one of their hobbies''). From yardening, let us note, there is still another step to take before gardening can begin. The Balls' ( The Flower Garden Problem Solver ) book is, for the most part, a simple and eye-opening introduction to the world of trees, shrubs, flowers, lawns and even vegetables (though growing the last may be asking too much of a yardener). And the authors expect readers to skip chapters, stating that ``the basic principles of caring for a yard are the same'' whatever plant is the beneficiary. Beginning with lawns, as so many gardening books do, the Balls guide the reader through the green maze of planting, feeding, watering and general care. They come up with shortcuts for fertilizing by advocating the use of one all-purpose plant food as the ``main meal'' for everything, something gardeners might not approve of. A sequel is planned for yardeners in the south and west. Photos not seen by PW. (Jan.)
This uneven work by the Today show garden advisor and his photographer wife is not for its intended audience--homeowners who want their property to look good with minimal fuss and detail about individual plants. Vital basic information is withheld, while details of recent research are presented without the necessary background. No explanation is given of the crucial numbers on fertilizer bags; the main lawn feeding is variously recommended for the spring, the fall, or both, and lawn fertilizer is suggested for flowers. Perhaps the lack of basic information is meant to force the reader to buy the extra ``tip sheets'' on individual plants and methods advertised at the back of the book. Give novices Barbara Damrosch's Garden Primer ( LJ 2/15/89); save this for the veteran who can ignore the errors and use the latest techniques on garden waste management and pest control in the last two chapters.-- Molly Newling, Pis cataway P.L., N.J.