Some gardening books, such as Tracey DiSabato-Aust’s The Well-Tended Perennial Garden: Planting and Pruning Techniques, are masterpieces and deserve a spot on your bookshelf for eternity. Some, like Sean Hogan’s Flora: A Gardener’s Encyclopedia, are reference materials that you refer to constantly. And some are gifts from uninitiated gardeners or books you bought at a time of weakness.

Now they just take up space and collect dust.

What can you do with them? Here’s a few options that you might find useful;

  1. Re-sell them – if you want to get something back on the purchase price that you squandered then you might want to consider reselling them on Amazon or listing for auction on Ebay. They’re both easy ways to get clean up your shelves and put some cash back in your pocket.
  2. Join BookCrossing – this is such a cool idea. It works by people registering their books online at BookCrossing. Then they “set them free” by leaving them on a park bench, in a cafe or a bus port and then track the book’s whereabouts via the same site.
  3. Donate them to Adopt A Library – all books that are donated to Adopt A Library are forwarded onto prisons, schools and other areas where they can be used again.
  4. Visit a book exchange – Most cities and towns in the western world offer a book exchange. They work by requesting you exchange the number of books that you’re looking for and paying a nominal fee for purchase. These places often carry valuable books that unsuspecting exchangers swap without knowing their true worth. Good places for wasting an hour or two.
  5. Online Book Exchange – if the local book exchange is a little limited in what they offer then on option might be becoming a member on This site offers free membership and you only pay a $1 request fee for each book that you find. You will need to keep at least 2 books listed to retain your membership and sort out postage costs but otherwise it’s a very cheap option.
  6. Donate them to a local library or charity – if your unwanted books are still in good condition then most libraries and charities would be happy to accept them. It doesn’t result in any benefit to you as neither will part with and form of swap or exchange but you can rest knowing that you made a contribution to society.
  7. Recycle as gifts – a fellow staff member (who you hardly know) is having a housewarming and you’ve automatically found the perfect gift. Provided it’s still in good condition this might be a great option for making room on your shelves for books that you actually want.
  8. Compile into an ideas file – even the worst gardening books have at least one or two redeeming photographs that could be cut out and pasted into a scrapbook of inspirational ideas. The rest of the book can then be recycled or,
  9. Ok, I know I said “8 ways…” but I’m adding this last one in for free…

  10. Turn them into compost – if you can’t give them away, nobody’s interested in buying them and you’ve removed all the inspirational ideas (or there weren’t any in the first place), then the only option is to at least make them useful in the garden. Don’t just throw the whole book in as is, otherwise it will take a few years to eventually break down. Instead, shred it into strips and soak in water before adding to your heap and it will compost quite readily.
    It might even give you some sordid satisfaction as you watch it decompose.

So, don’t just throw them in the bin and send them off to landfill. Find ways to get them back into circulation and onto someone else’s shelves. It’s therapeutic for you and good for the environment.