5 Garden Plans for Solving Your Yard's Most Challenging Situations

Need ideas for those tricky spots where nothing seems to grow well? Try one of these colorful designs.

It may seem like some growing conditions are tougher to deal with than others, but often it all boils down to putting the right plants in the right place. It could be that you find yourself struggling with a shaded corner or a sunbaked slope. Maybe your yard suffers from regular drought and heat spells, withering whatever you plant. Or perhaps deer keep snacking on anything that does decide to grow. But don't throw in the trowel just yet! There are plenty of colorful, easy-care plants in these five garden plans to help you overcome your most difficult landscaping problems.

Heat-Loving Garden Plan
Illustration by Mavis Augustine Torke

Heat-Loving Garden Plan

No matter how hot it gets, the perennials in this simple garden plan can take all the heat that summer dishes out. (Of course, you'll still need to provide a little water whenever the soil gets dry, especially during the first season.) Big, bold dahlias and lilies form the backbone of this garden, complemented by reliable spike speedwell, penstemon, boltonia, and purple moorgrass. The result is a bed full of colorful blooms (they're perfect for cutting!) throughout the warmest months of the year.

deer-resistant garden illustration
Illustration by Gary Palmer

Deer-Resistant Garden Plan

Deer may look cute but they can wreak havoc in a garden. Keep the hungry critters from munching on your plants by selecting varieties that are lower on their menu. This deer-resistant garden plan features several blooming perennials that have a scent or texture that the animals don't like. The design contrasts the purple blooms of Russian sage, globe thistle, iris, and lamb's ears with warm yellow flowers of spurge and yarrow, accented by the warm orange flowers of potentilla. The low-growing foliage of artemisia and thyme gives the front of the bed a clean finish.

Low-Water Garden Plan

A dry garden spot calls for tough plants that can get by without much water. Nature outfitted drought-tolerant plants with a host of special features for survival. For example, sedum's thick, succulent leaves store excess water. The fuzz on lamb's ears slows evaporation from the leaves. Use these and other water-wise selections in this garden plan to create a beautiful display near your home's foundation, along your driveway, or the streetside strip of grass in front of your house. Stocked with low-maintenance plants that thrive in full sun and well-drained soil, this garden is designed to look good, even through extended dry spells.

no-fuss shade garden plan illustration
Illustration by Gary Palmer

No-Fuss Shade Garden Plan

The space under a large tree's branches can seem like a challenge when you want to grow something colorful. But luckily, there are several perennials that don't mind limited sunlight. This no-fuss shade garden plan features many of these types of plants that will add bright blooms as well as lush foliage without requiring much care from you. To assemble this garden, start from the back edge and move forward. Elegant bleeding hearts and bold hostas create the first layer, followed by hellebores and foamy bells. Astilbes and painted ferns create a lower-growing, fine-textured layer, and the front of the bed is overflowing with deadnettle and barrenwort.

Drought-Tolerant Slope Garden illustration
Illustration by Mavis Augustine Torke

Drought-Tolerant Slope Garden Plan

Tame a tough-to-mow incline with this easy-care design that showcases a water-thrifty selection of plants such as sedums that thrive in hot, dry, sunny conditions. The hardscape elements, such as wide steps, help convert the sloped area from inaccessible to inviting. Groundcovers such as creeping thyme help soften their edges. Clusters of boulders anchor the planting and add natural beauty.

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