What Is A Reading Garden: How To Create A Reading Nook In Gardens

wonan in a garden
Image by CPaulussen

By Amy Grant

It is commonplace to find me outside reading; unless it’s monsooning or there’s a snow storm. I love nothing better than uniting my two great passions, reading and my garden, so it comes as no great surprise that I am not alone, thus a new trend towards reading garden design has been born. Let’s learn more about creating a reading nook for gardens.

What is a Reading Garden?

So, “what is a reading garden?” you ask. Reading garden ideas can be as simple as a single bench situated amidst, say the rose garden, to more grandiose plans involving water features, statuary, rockery, etc. Really, your imagination, and maybe your wallet, are the only limitations to creating a reading garden. The idea is simply to create an extension of your indoor living space, making it a comforting area in which to relax and read.

Reading Garden Design


The first thing to consider when creating your reading garden is its location. Whether large or a small reading nook in the garden, consider what aspect will be relaxing to you. For instance, is it important to consider a shaded area, or do you wish to take advantage of a vista or view of the garden? Is noise a factor, such as the site close to a busy street? Is the space protected from wind and sun? Is the area flat or on a hill?

Continue to check out your potential site for creating a reading garden. Are there existing plants that can be incorporated into the design, or does it need a complete overhaul? Are there existing structures that will work with your vision, such as paths or fences?

Think about who will be using the reading garden; for example, only yourself, children, or someone in a wheelchair or otherwise disabled? If children are involved, care must be taken to avoid using or adding any toxic plants. Also, avoid using sharp corners on seating and provide a soft landing of grass, woodchips or like items if young children are involved. Do not put a pond or other water feature where children have access. Decks can become slippery with algae. Paths should be sufficiently smooth and wide enough for a disabled person to gain access.

Also consider the method by which a person will be reading. While the classic paper book is still very common, it is just as likely that a person may be reading from an e-reader. Therefore, you don’t want the location to be too dark for someone reading a paper book, but not too bright for someone reading from an e-reader.

Also, consider what type of maintenance will be required in your reading garden design. Will it need to be mowed, watered, etc. and is the space accessible for these chores? You may want to install a sprinkler system or drip lines to make watering easier.

Lastly, it’s time to decorate. Plant selection is up to you. Perhaps you have a theme such as an English garden full of flowers to attract hummingbirds and bees, or maybe a xeriscape which will reduce the need for supplemental watering. Mock plant…by this I mean take your time and move the plants while potted around the reading nook in the garden prior to planting. It may take a couple of tries before you find just the right look.

Then, plant the flowers and plants. Dig holes slightly wider and deeper than the root ball of the plant and fill in with additional soil and tamp down firmly. Water the new plant in.

Choose a seating option, such as a bench or wicker chair, and situate it in a cozy area out of the sun. Enhance it with throw pillows and, of course, a table to set a drink, snack or your book while you watch the sunset. Continue to add ornamental touches if you want, like the water features aforementioned, a bird feeder or bath, and wind chimes. Creating a reading garden can be as complex or as simple as you desire; the point is to get outside, relax and enjoy a good book.

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