Let me again recommend the Sunset Western Garden Book
. There's a good, large-ish section towards the back called "A Practical Guide to Gardening" aimed at new gardeners. Sunset can help *every* level of gardener, from brand-new to quite advanced, which is why it's stayed in print and been updated every four to five years ever since it first came out before the Flood.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9