Want to minimize your labor, costs and stress? Plant for the yard conditions you already have.
"You make the plants do the work," says John Greenlee, author of "The American Meadow Garden," and owner-founder of Greenlee Nursery in Chino, Calif., and Greenlee & Associates. "If you have a shady area that is wet all the time, you don't install drainage," he says. "You plant something that likes shady and wet."
"When you try to partner with nature, gardening is so much easier," he says.
His tip is to look for regional plants native to the area and conditions.
Three sources include local native plant societies, local and regional horticultural gardens, and independent gardening centers.
It may mean a little detective work to investigate the growing conditions in your yard, then to discover what plants would do best there, he says. "Based on a lot of the research coming out, Americans really don't know what they're doing," Greenlee says. "They're trying to change their gardening world, rather than acknowledging their gardening conditions."
Once you plant for your actual conditions, he says, "you would be amazed at not only how beautiful your garden is, but how you now have all this time on your hands."