Zone in: Although he's experimented with a few plants that aren't considered hardy here, Sauer said he's discovered it's not worth it. "What works in Minnesota is staying in your zone," he said.

Play with pots: Robert Zoller, the potter of the pair, gets clever with his containers by planting them not just with annuals but also with perennials, shrubs and even sizable evergreens. "Just because it's a hosta doesn't mean it has to go in the ground," said Zoller.

Maintain control: In addition to deadheading, which he's adamant about, Sauer also believes in regular pruning, trimming and even yanking out plants that get too aggressive or just don't do well. His garden motto: "You can't let things get out of control."

Divide and save: Instead of trying to fill his garden with store-bought plants, Sauer nurtured his plants and took divisions, which he planted around the garden. "We didn't have all kinds of money," he said. "We bought things that were on sale and we divided them. We didn't go out and buy hundreds of plants."

Try it, you might like it: "You can't be afraid to experiment," he said. "It's not all going to work, but you need to try new things."