Catriona Tudor Erler, . . Creative Homeowner, $24.95 (384pp) ISBN 978-1-58011-182-9

Erler's sprawling, all-you-need-to-know reference targets not the landscape designers of palatial estates but the suburbanite or city dweller who wants to create an attractive landscape but doesn't have unlimited funds or time. Scintillating reading this isn't, but it's certainly comprehensive. Erler, author of Complete Home Landscaping (2000), explains how to use design elements to create a landscape plan, then offers tips on adding structures such as fences, walkways, steps, patios, and ponds or other water features to a yard. Her final section tackles trees, shrubs, lawns, ground covers, flowers and even organic vegetables and herbs. Throughout, Erler mixes grand design overviews with step-by-step projects, which she helpfully rates as easy, moderate or challenging. The book's pages are chock-a-block with color photos, charts, graphs, maps and other resources. Although the overwhelming amount of detailed and useful information will surely appeal to do-it-yourselfers, Erler may occasionally annoy readers, as when she painfully states the obvious (e.g., "Place water features where you can enjoy them"). Those willing to slog through the morass of dull, textbook-like prose will come away from this book with plenty of unique ideas for landscaping their home. (Feb.) n