Who doesn't yearn for a property filled with lush and colorful plants? Naturally you want to look out your windows and see paradise, but, if you are like most of us, you can't help wondering if you can spare the time and effort needed to create your own Eden.

That's where this site comes in. The fact is that you can have a fantastic garden and also have the time to relax and enjoy it. If you plant wisely, you can be the proud owner of a wonderful garden that you can develop in your spare minutes without also developing an aching back or a groaning pocketbook. When you match care-free plants to the conditions of your site, gardening becomes a cinch. We've thought of every situation. No matter where you live, you'll find suggestions for plants that will thrive in your yard. No matter if you garden in a sunny spot by a windy beach or a thoroughfare, or in a shady, boggy niche, the following pages will offer you schemes that feature the easiest-to-grow, most rewarding, most foolproof, and most problem-free plants for your site. To help you further, we've included an encyclopedia section, in which you'll find descriptions of 200 care-free annuals, perennials, bulbs, shrubs, trees, groundcovers, and vines for your garden.

We've designed combinations for every situation, from the sunniest and driest to the shadiest and wettest location, and for every type of soil. If you want to customize your carefree combinations, you'll find lots of additional plant choices in the "Other Bedfellows" boxes that accompany each situation. The recipes for success in the following pages use plants that are beautiful and readily available in addition to being easy to grow.

You'll find money-saving tips and seasonal advice. You'll learn the formula for a low-upkeep lawn as well as a restful pond-side planting. And we'll tell you how to do it all quickly, simply, and effectively. What's the secret to great gardening? Learning to work smart, not hard, with care-free plants.

Assess Your Garden Conditions

The first step is defining your garden conditions. If you're not quite sure what you have underfoot, click through the pages of this section, read the descriptions of what constitutes a soggy site and how many hours of sun qualify a space as a "sunny site." Then plant accordingly.

Our lists of plants that tolerate filtered, part-day shade and other conditions are great to get you started, but we go one step further. Rather than leaving you groping in the dark wondering which plants are compatible, we provide a hard-hitting package that combines shrubs, trees, bulbs, vines, annuals, and perennials to furnish height, breadth, and a display that lingers over the longest possible time span. Annuals, bulbs, shrubs, and trees work in tandem to keep the garden dancing through the seasons. We also recommend other horticultural hard-hitters, allowing you to mix and match, and make it work for you.

Plant Encyclopedia

Need to know more? Cross-reference your garden conditions with the plant encyclopedia, and you'll find every plant fully described. This is foolproof gardening at its best.

Here's where you'll find out about the easy-care plants. We've dug up all the dirt on 200 of the easiest plants available to let you ease your aching back. And we recommend the best varieties for every application.

The plant encyclopedia presents a substantial list of annuals from ageratum to zinnia, perennials from anise hyssop to yucca, vines that climb, trail, or dangle; bulbs, hardy and tender, including the lesser-known varieties; shrubs and trees great or small for a focal point or for a bed. Each is listed alphabetically by common name followed by botanical name. All the data is conveniently at your fingertips; the profile for each plant includes its preferred soil pH, soil type, light requirements, quirks, where it grows best, lifespan, potential pitfalls, propagation, and critter resistance.

Garden Maintenance

Here's where we tackle the challenges inherent in keeping a landscape prime and pretty throughout the seasons. Whether you're making a container garden, grappling with crabgrass, or preparing to prune, you'll find what you need to get the job done without blood, sweat, or tears.

Everyone can garden in containers: all you need is a porch, deck, or windows. We show how to choose the right container and foolproof plants, from common to courageous. You'll also find suggestions for other container bedfellows, soil mixes, watering strategies, feeding, and grooming.

Most gardeners grapple with grass, and in this section you'll find virtually everything you need to make lawn maintenance a snap. Discover the best cool-and warm-season grasses, exactly what grass needs to look prime, and how to make mowing easier. Find suggestions for fertilizing and guidelines for optimal mowing heights. And when grass isn't the best answer, choose from our list of care-free groundcovers and give your lawn mower a break.

In the pages of the maintenance section you'll find advice on planting, feeding, watering, weeding, mulching, pruning, grooming, propagating and controlling pests. A calendar helps reduce future work by timing tasks.

Garden and Plant Glossary

Part of care-free gardening is leaving nothing unexplained. So in our glossary, you'll find complete, every-day-language definitions for all of the useful gardening terms that you'll find scattered throughout this site.

A zone map divides North America into 11 hardiness zones based on the average minimum winter temperature in each region. Studying it will help you decide whether a plant will survive season after season in your garden.

The Gardening Pro site helps you work garden wonders with practically no sweat. There's no "mission impossible," as far as gardening is concerned.