Yep, "if only we knew" is a mantra that we definitely share. It applies to the house construction and the gardens. I guess I hadn't realized that you built your house too! Another thing we have in common.
I haven't planted many trees over the years because we are in the woods and have trees galore. The trees that I have planted have all been spring flowering - magnolias, dogwoods, weeping cherry, redbuds, silverbell, and a splurge last year on a dove tree - have you ever heard of that one? However, one of my biggest mistakes when I first stated gardening was that I never spent any time or money amending the soil. I was always so much more interested in acquiring the plants and then wondered why so many of them died or if they lived, they really weren't thriving. I think I kept blindly headlong down that road until 2008 when I finally wizened up and had that aha moment that I SHOULD have had ten years before then
I bet you will be brave enough to head outside to garden today. From where I sit at the computer and look out the turret windows, it looks nice and sunny. I actually went outside with a few tasks in mind, but came in a short 15 minutes later. Still too cold for me. Darn it.