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Tips to reduce a garden's needs

*Reduce plantings of perennials and annuals and replace them with shrubs. Shrubs come in a range of sizes, flowering periods, forms and season of interest -- space them for their established size, which is shown on plant labels.

*Shrubs can be used in almost any garden role, depending on their ornamental traits -- as ground covers, screening, specimens, accents and fillers, as well as for wildlife habitat and even container plantings.

*Roses, which are shrubs, can provide weeks of bloom in a low-maintenance landscape, but you must pick proven, low-care varieties. Rugosa roses provide a show in late spring; modern landscape roses can flower continually through the season.

*Hydrangeas work well in all but the hottest and driest conditions. Beyond the common bigleaf hydrangeas, think of oakleaf hydrangeas, shrubby and white flowering in late spring; and the more perennial, such as smooth hydrangea, a great ground cover that blooms in early summer and is decorative into early fall. New varieties of panicle hydrangeas are more compact and shrublike than older forms and bloom in summer into the fall.

*Avoid fast-growing woody plants.

*Replace a jumble of plants with massed plantings of a single variety. Make sure the light, drainage and soil conditions are uniform for the entire planting.

*Keep hedges tidy with a light trimming, but avoid clipped hedges.

*Use a light layer of organic mulch to keep weeds down.