Answer: I think you're wise in tackling one landscape area at a time - otherwise it might be overwhelming and difficult to get done. The first step in planning a garden is to determine the look you want. From your email I get the impression you already have some ideas so the hard part is done. The internet is a great place to go window shopping for plants. Not all plants will do well in every gardening region, though, so you should probably concentrate on plants recommended for your local area. I found an excellent website authored by the University of Georgia (I'm guessing by your reference to Dallas, GA that that's where you're gardening). Here's the web address: http://pubs.caes.uga.edu/caespubs/pubcd/B625.htm
You'll find lots of descriptive information on all kinds of trees, shrubs and perennials on the site. Once you have a wish list of plants and have an idea of how large these plants will grow, you can start sketching out your landscape design.
When you're happy with how it looks on paper, it's time to prep the soil, purchase your plants and begin installation. I always set the plants, still in their nursery pots, in the places I think they should go. You can change their spots if you're not getting quite the look you want. Once you're happy with the arrangement, you can start planting.
Before planting anything, you'll want to work some organic matter into your planting beds. Compost is great; aged-manure is a good amendment, too. Spread 4-5" of organic matter over the entire planting area and dig it in to a depth of 8-10". This is where the roots of your plants will grow. Organic matter loosens the soil, helps it drain quickly but also holds moisture which makes the plants happy.
All you have left to do is plant and water on a regular basis, then sit back and enjoy your new garden.
We welcome your questions so feel free to drop again.
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