Plan Garden in WinterI know it's a funny time to be thinking about lawn sprinklers. Most of the country is in the midst of winter weather. But here's the deal. I love seasons. One of the reasons we moved back to Utah from Florida is that we actually like dry air and having weather variety other than “hot” and “super hot.”

Still, I would be perfectly happy if it snowed the day after Thanksgiving and snowed steadily until January 2. Then, the happy warming trend toward spring should begin in ernest.

With Christmas over and New Year's Day on the horizon, I'm love the days getting longer and already look forward to warmer weather — even though I know I'm fooling myself and in for a number of cold months ahead. But since I have no lawns to mow or gardens to tend, I'll spend my Saturdays planning out the front garden bed that I didn't quite get to last summer.

If you're planning a yard and need an easy care solution, I will tell you the best thing we did in our new home landscaping was to create 90% of the garden area with a drip irrigation system. Rather than have open beds that are generally soaked with water — and prone to weeds — we put in a sprinkler system that that runs hose on the ground that waters only where actual planting will occur. Then the beds are covered with weed barrier with holes cut in the fabric to allow planting. The barrier is then covered with large gravel.

The system is beautiful and amazingly easy to care for. In spite of owning a half acre lot with lots of planting, I actually spent about 30 minutes per month weeding. The only exception was a small front bed that wasn't properly installed by our landscaper. (The weed barrier is sparse with lots of holes.) That tiny patch takes many times more weeding than the rest of the yard combined — and I've contacted him to correct the problem this spring.

When you install a landscape, be sure you take into account your actual ability and willingness to maintain the yard. If you don't love digging in the dirt, plan to make your yard attractive and easy to care for.