• Be an early bird: Order plants by April 1 to get the best selection, and keep them in the pot until it's time to plant. "If you wait until May 15, you get the leftovers," said Jerry.

• Take shortcuts: After picking a crop, spread oak leaves to prevent weeds and conserve moisture in the vegetable garden. "We rototill them in the soil in the spring," said Lee.

• Push the envelope: "Many plants will grow where experts say they can't," said Jerry. He's had success with some Zone 5 plants, including a hybrid magnolia 'Woodsman,' which produces gorgeous chartreuse and pink blossoms.

• Change, rearrange: "A garden should always be in constant flux or else it gets boring," said Jerry.

• Don't waste space: If a tree or shrub is struggling, Jerry digs it up and tries something else.

• Plant shrubs for structure and height against fences and garages.

• Assess in August: Take notes on possible changes to make next year. "If I see too much of the same shade of green, I'll add variegated plants to lighten it up," said Lee.