When planning a new garden, it is important to lay things out ahead of time so you can visualise what plants you want. It is the planting you select that will dictate the amount and type of soil preparation required.
When you are happy with your layout, get digging. Make sure you are up for the job otherwise bring someone in to do the digging for you. A sprained back will put your project on hold for a long time. The best time to prepare your soil is autumn. Depending on the planting you have decided on, you may need to add manure or gravel and these will need to settle before you begin actual planting in spring. Permanent features such as decking can be installed now though.
The best place to find plants is in other people’s gardens. Take cuttings (with permission, of course) and start on the route of the time honoured method of trading plants. You could also buy plants at a nursery. Don’t be tempted to buy herbs in a supermarket as they will be force grown and frail. Buy from garden centres or grow from seed. Never take plants from public areas or the wild.
You can save quite a lot of money by buying bare root plants for early Spring planting. These are sold in their dormant state, and should go into the ground as quickly as possible. Soak the roots before planting, and dip them in a thin slurry of mud to prevent them from drying out. All other plants should be removed from their pots before planting. Tip them over and tap the bottom and sides of the pots to loosen the root mass, and then let the plant fall free. Never pull plants out of their pots by the stems… that’s like being pulled out of your seat by the throat. You wouldn’t like it; and neither do the plants.none