Replace needy plants with fuss-free beauties
Eliminate demanding cultivars, and group plants with similar needs. For example, combine water-lovers such as hydrangeas and dogwoods (Cornus sericea) in a moist area, and drought lovers such as lambs’ ears (Stachys byzantina) and Adam’s needle (Yucca glauca) in arid spots.
Composted bark mulch, kelp, humic acid, fish fertilizer, worm compost and compost tea improve the condition of the soil and make plants more drought tolerant and disease resistant. Mulch well to conserve water and suppress weeds, too.
Automate where possible
Install an automatic irrigation system to eliminate hours of hauling hoses. Don’t forget to include a rain sensor to conserve water. Alternatively, permanently position soaker hoses and put them on timers.
Easy tasks such as mowing the lawn or edging can be assigned to a spouse or kids, or hired out. The pruning of large trees and annual trimming of shrubs is best done by an arborist certified by the International Society of Arboriculture.
Lawns are high maintenance, so replace parts of the grass with low-care groundcovers such as woolly thyme in dry areas, or golden creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’) in shady ones. Expand non-growing areas or hardscapes, but ensure material used is water-permeable—flagstone over gravel, for example—to prevent runoff.
Use pre-built stakes
Some plants require less staking than others, but when you do have to provide support, keep store-bought stakes on hand to save time; tying yards of string to bamboo supports is a labour-intensive task that can take hours.