Answer: Since you are new to gardening you may want to take a look at a book or two to get started. The Dummies series includes a number of gardening books that might be helpful.
The first thing to do is determine how much sun the area receives and at what time of day, whether the soil is extra wet or dry or average, then run some basic soil tests to check fertility and soil pH. Use the test results to guide you in soil preparation prior to planting.
In general you would loosen the soil and work in organic matter such as compost along with fertilizer and/or lime as indicated by the test results. Then level the area and rake it smooth.
If you are planting lawn grass, prepare the soil down about six inches or more. If you are planting perennials, work it about a foot deep. For trees and shrubs, you can dig larger individual planting holes suited to the size of the rootball of the plant you are putting in.
In such as small space you will need to plan carefully. Select a theme or overall look or style and stick to it. Decide if you want evergreens or flowering plants, or a mix. Decide how much maintenance you are willing or able to do.
Plant things that are suited to the amount of light that reaches the garden spot, and to the soil. Plan ahead for the mature size of the plant(s) and space them accordingly.
In my experience, a small area often lends itself to a simple planting such as a large shrub, a few perennials, a groundcover, and possibly a feature such as a birdbath, a large urn of annual flowers, a large stone boulder, or birdhouse on a post. You may also need to fence the area to prevent damage from passing dogs.
Enjoy your project!
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