If you want to take a break from weeding while the weather is overheating, here are some new gardening and landscape design books to consider:

* "Deerproofing Your Yard & Garden," by Rhonda Massingham Hart (Storey Publishing, 2005) is a revised and updated version of the 1997 book. It's astounding how much closer deer have moved into the sprawl of the suburbs in the past decade. At 20 million strong, deer are one of the fastest growing animal populations, and they eat plants to live. Hart introduces a collection of gardening techniques designed to discourage deer; she calls it Deer-o-scaping. She offers well-researched lists of deer-resistant plants by region, effective deterrents and practical repellents, but she advises that you learn what is deer-proof through experience with the local population, not from lists. She acknowledges that this is not an exact science and that deer will eat anything when hungry enough. The 208-page, invaluable garden helper discusses using fences, startling devices, dogs, and several hundred plants to deerproof yards. (Paperback, $14.95.)

* "A City of Gardens: Glorious Public Gardens In and Around the Nation's Capital," by Barbara Seeber (Capital Books, 2005) gets close to home with helpful references covering the gardens of Washington. You will have to take your pictures of these gardens as you explore them, as this book offers information only. Landscape design has been part of Washington since the city's inception. This handbook outlines its many gardens and offers some excellent interpretation of their features and spaces. The author has included complete information about 23 of the more prominent historic estates, botanic gardens, contemplation gardens and parks in the region. This 316-page tome is not a definitive list of gardens in this region but is a complete representation of a selection of gardens. (Paperback, $20.)

* "Timber Press Pocket Guide to Shade Perennials," by W. George Schmid (Timber Press, 2005) is for those who can't find plants that will grow in the shade of mature trees or on the north side of a house. This illustrated handbook offers ideas for plants that will bring year-round color to the woodland garden. This mini encyclopedia covers more than 1,000 shade-tolerant plants. Within the 256 pages and 310 color photographs are suggestions for plants you would never have thought to try. For example, try washitakakuma rohdea (R. japonica "Washitakakuma"). This hybrid evergreen perennial has large splotches of white on the leaves that will light up a dark spot in heavy shade. The white leaves of the hybrid pulmonaria majesty (P. "Majeste") will also add a bright touch to a shady spot. My favorite plant for a dark area of the garden is golden hakone grass (Hakonechloa macra "Aureola"). The yellow leaves make it look as if the sun is shining on them. (Paperback, $19.95.)

* "Native Plants of the Northeast," by Donald J. Leopold (Timber Press, 2005) is an encyclopedia of experience. Leopold, professor at the College of Environmental Science and Forestry, State University of New York, teaches landscape design from a natural perspective. He researches the ecology of old-growth forests and wetlands, the biology of rare plant species and the bio-diversity and restoration of ecosystems. You will learn the benefits of having natural communities of plants and how to create them. It is a suitable text for landscape professionals, students of horticulture and do-it yourselfers. He covers woody and herbaceous plants, explaining their hardiness, soil preferences, light requirements, attributes, propagation techniques and natural habitats. Leopold shares his favorites, offering specific, encyclopedic, how-to information for almost 700 species of native plants, with more than 500 color photographs. (Hardcover, $39.95.)

* "The Perennial Gardener's Design Primer," by Stephanie Cohen and Nancy J. Ondra (Storey Publishing, 2005), takes the mystery out of designing a perennial garden and gets you from step one -- deciding what you want in your flower garden -- to the final product -- a glorious full-color border with year-round interest. Their information is valuable for landscape professionals and serious amateurs and should be required reading before anyone embarks on a learning expedition with perennials. This how-to guidebook will keep you from making mistakes from the start and increases your success with perennial design by another order of magnitude. The sample design renderings, color photographs, charts, other references and advice from seasoned professionals will cut your learning curve in half. There are plans for various situations, including shade, fragrance, sun and design for winter, fall, and spring interest. (Paperback $24.95, hardcover $34.95.)

* "The American Horticultural Society A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants," by editors Christopher Brickell & H. Marc Cathey (DK, 2004) is the reference book you turn to when you want to look up the name of a plant, see a picture of it and get a general description, such as growth habit, leaf and flower type, plant height and spread, geographical origin and hardiness and heat zones. Reportedly, there are more than 225,000 species of flowering plants, with only 9,000 native to North America. This desk reference lists more than 15,000 plants, the main body of which includes those that will grow in hardiness zones throughout the United States and Canada. This massive 1,099-page work has almost 6,000 color photographs. It is organized alphabetically by botanical name, with an index in the back that cross-references plants by their common name. There are also sections on non-flowering plants, general information about botany, nomenclature, natives, pests, pruning, propagation, greenhouse culture, the environment, cactus, orchids, water plants and more. (Hardcover, $80.)

* "Homescaping," by Anne Halpin (Rodale Books, 2005) puts the landscape-design puzzle together, piece by piece. She helps you determine how to generally match garden style with home style. Formal, informal and natural styles are discussed with some exceptional ideas for them. Included are use of color, paths and walkways, walls and fences, hedges and plant screens, patios, decks, arbors, other furnishings, plant listings and more. This is a well done, helpful book on landscape design. The illustrations and 200 color photographs are helpful in representing the landscape design elements covered. You will gain an education in and an understanding of landscape design. (Hardcover, $35.)

* "Dogwoods," by Paul Cappiello and Don Shadow (Timber Press, 2005) is for dogwood lovers. Anyone who ever admired any type of dogwood will like it. Written by two experts, it is a well researched and complete text for professionals and homeowners. Cappiello is executive director of Yew Dell Gardens in Crestwood, Ky., and was horticulture director for Bernheim Arboretum and an associate professor at the University of Maine. Shadow is owner of Shadow Nursery in Winchester, Tenn., and an award-winning, internationally known nurseryman and plant propagator. The information is illustrated with excellent color photos, and you will learn about the many forms of dogwoods. It can grow as a ground cover, shrub with colorful stems in winter or a small flowering tree. There are quite a few native trees and shrubs, such as red twig dogwood or yellow twig dogwood, cornelian cherry (Cornus mas), kousa dogwood, native dogwood and hundreds of hybrids. (Hardcover, $39.95.)

* "The Wild Coast," by Curtis J. Badger (University of Virginia Press, 2005) offers local appeal. It is for those who want to see and learn more about the road less traveled in the mid-Atlantic states, from New Jersey to North Carolina. Badger, the award-winning author of more than 30 books, suggests traversing New Jersey on the Garden State Parkway, which"invites the driver to slow down and explore." The Stone Harbor exit offers the Wetlands Institute, with a hiking trail, museum and aquarium, overlooking a sweeping salt marsh. Delaware has long stretches of unbroken beaches, dunes and shrub thickets -- Bombay Hook and Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuges are huge tracts of preserved coast that are a birders' paradise. Along the Maryland and Virginia coast, you might recognize many of the areas he discusses. He offers useful current and historical information. Ending up in North Carolina's Outer Banks, he shows the obscure and natural aspects of the coast -- apart from the asphalt, condos, shops, homes, private beaches and resorts -- where there are wildlife habitats and places where you can still hunt ducks and fish for striped bass. (Paperback, $16.95.)

Joel M. Lerner is president of Environmental Design in Capitol View Park, Md. E-mail or contact him through his Web site, www.gardenlerner.com.