The best books about regeneration, our relationship with the landscape, and restoring ecological health

Who am I?

Ever since my childhood growing up off-grid in rural Maine, I’ve been fascinated by the natural world. Out of that fascination grew an abiding interest in weaving people and the landscape back together, something I’ve focused on and explored for over two decades, both personally and in my capacity as a landscape designer. The books I’ve shared here all provided me with know-how and perspective that has inspired me to pursue ecological regeneration. If you’re interested in these topics you won’t be disappointed! 


I wrote...

Lawns Into Meadows: Growing a Regenerative Landscape

By Owen Wormser,

Book cover of Lawns Into Meadows: Growing a Regenerative Landscape

What is my book about?

Landscape designer Owen Wormser explains how to replace the dead scapes we call lawns with attractive, eco-friendly meadows. This is a how-to book on meadow-making that's also about sustainability, regeneration, and beauty. In a world where lawns have wreaked havoc on our ecosystems, meadows offer a compelling solution. Meadows establish wildlife and pollinator habitat, are low-maintenance and low-cost while also sequestering significant amounts of carbon.

Wormser describes how to plant a meadow that’s right for your site. His book includes guidance on designing your meadow, preparing your plot, and planting without using chemicals. Wormser draws on his own stories that led him to landscape design and meadow making, including his childhood growing up off the grid in rural Maine.

The books I picked & why

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Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World

By Paul Stamets,

Book cover of Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World

Why this book?

This book reveals the critical role mushrooms play in maintaining ecosystem health. Research has uncovered the stunning degree to which fungi regulate life on this planet. Paul Stamets shares that here while also explaining myriad ways mushrooms can be used to repair the web of life that we have damaged. For example, oyster mushrooms have been shown to be effective at digesting hydrocarbons such as diesel and motor oil, rendering them inert and non-toxic. The information and perspectives provided in this book are downright eye-opening; Mycelium Running invariably inspires while at the same time also pointing to practical solutions.   


Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things

By William McDonough, Michael Braungart,

Book cover of Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things

Why this book?

Cradle to Cradle lays out a clear and actionable approach to balancing our modern industrial systems with the health of all living things on this planet. Unlike so many perspectives that pit technological progress against ecological health, this book makes it clear how we can have both without sacrificing our own health or the health of other living things. When I was first beginning my landscape design practice, this book inspired me greatly. Now, over two decades later, it still inspires me because the perspective shared on these pages is more relevant than ever.   


The Sunflower Forest: Ecological Restoration and the New Communion with Nature

By William R. Jordan III,

Book cover of The Sunflower Forest: Ecological Restoration and the New Communion with Nature

Why this book?

Written by the founder of the Society for Ecological Restoration, this book explains perspectives that are foundational to human-initiated ecological regeneration. The Sunflower Forest paints an accessible and inspiring picture of how we can collaborate with nature to create beneficial results for all living things. In this book, William R. Jordan III also explains how, with the right perspective, anyone can learn to speak the language of nature that underpins all ecological regeneration.


Healing Earth: An Ecologist's Journey of Innovation and Environmental Stewardship

By John Todd,

Book cover of Healing Earth: An Ecologist's Journey of Innovation and Environmental Stewardship

Why this book?

John Todd is one of the preeminent ecologists on the planet. Over the course of his 5-decade career, he has been innovating and exploring ways in which we can work with nature to find solutions for major environmental conundrums. In this book, Dr. Todd explains the theory behind ecological design while also sharing inspiring examples of his work, ranging from restoring ocean fisheries, cleaning wastewater in hopelessly polluted ponds, to providing inexpensive access to sewage treatment in shantytowns with open, untreated sewers. This book shows that with the right mindset and commitment, ecological solutions are readily available for almost any situation. 


Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England

By William Cronon,

Book cover of Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England

Why this book?

When European colonists settled North America, they began to significantly alter the landscape in ways that were deeply ignorant of ecological health. Now, over 400 years later, that impact has not lessened. However, over that time, there have been significant ebbs and flows in the landscape relative to how it’s used (or not used). This fascinating book follows that trajectory as it explores the environmental history of New England. Even for those not familiar with this particular region, this book offers a unique window into how dynamic and fluid landscapes and ecosystems can be over the course of time.  


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in environmentalism, New England, and England?

5,309 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about environmentalism, New England, and England.

Environmentalism Explore 94 books about environmentalism
New England Explore 48 books about New England
England Explore 647 books about England

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Steady-State Economics, The Malthusian Moment, and Bright Green Lies if you like this list.