Each year folks have less and less time to do things they love, like gardening. Eric has a few tips that might diminish some of the headaches by reducing gardening maintenance.
First, if you don't have a lot of time, don't start with a huge space. Instead start with something that's 6 by 6, or 8 by 8. Start at the front of your house and work with a few plants, then develop it out.
As far a plants go, a lot of people try to go with smaller plants. Instead try a gallon or 3 gallon pot, it's a great way to get something that's going to grow a lot faster, it will have a lot more stored energy, a better root system and a more immediate pop of color. And, in many cases you will save yourself a full growing season by going with the more established plant.
Also, think about woody ornamentals, these plants are often bypassed in the garden center for perennials or annuals already in bloom. But, woody ornamentals give you great foliage, sometimes year round or in other cases 9 months out of the year. Many have interesting foliage - variegated, dark colors, different shades of green. But flowering woody ornamentals also have pops of color throughout the season. For example, Hydrangeas, Sambucus Black Lace, many of the Weigelas are incredible selections for the garden. And, very low maintenance.
Also, look at multiple layers in the garden. In open areas use ground covers to fill in space. They'll out compete weeds, meaning one less space you need to tend if you plant a good aggressive ground cover.
Look for native plants. Native plants are often the best adapted plants for your garden. So, think about plants like Echinacea, Cone Flowers, Gaillaedia, these are plants that are beautiful in flower but also heat tolerant. One of Eric's favorite perennials and is great for hot, dry spaces is Baptisia. These are presently in bloom in his garden and will ultimately achieve 3 to 4 feet in height. They have beautiful bloom spikes, they're a great low maintenance plant.
Talk to your garden center professional about plants that will work particularly well for your site, be it sun, shade, compacted soil, etc.
Remember start with larger plants, think about woody ornamentals, find perennials that are particularly drought and heat tolerant, use ground covers to cover open space or if you have open space not yet developed think about using a weed preventer to keep pesky weeds out.