When you move into a new house surrounded by nothing but bare soil, the process of turning the yard into a lush green garden can seem overwhelming. The key here is to break the process up into manageable steps. Large doses of patience are needed here, however, since taking short cuts will usually result in a yard that is more trouble to maintain and less satisfying to look at than it might have been.
Cover Crops For Improving Soil
New houses are often surrounded by poor quality soil so digging in compost, manure, straw or other organic matter is essential whether you want to grow vegetables, shrubs or a lawn. Buying a large quantity of organic matter can be expensive, however, so consider seeding a cover crop, a fast growing plant that can be tilled into the soil to enrich it. You'll have time to do the planning of your new yard while the cover crop grows.
Cover Bare Soil
More than anything else, you want to keep weeds from invading your new yard and that means covering up the soil. The seeds will be there, ready to sprout, or will blow in within a few months so preventing an infestation should be one of your first priorities.
You could cover the whole space with mulch, which has the benefit of improving the soil when you dig it in, or you could seed it with grass. You may not want a lawn that size but the grass does keep the weeds down and it's easy to kill when you want to carve out planting beds.
Planning Is Essential
Spend more time planning your yard than planting. A year isn't too long for examining the patterns of light and shade, the windy spots and sheltered areas. You need to decide what you really want from your yard, what activities are most important to you and what overall style you want to establish.
Consider using the new design style called naturescaping as a way of making your yard a minimum maintenance project. Relying on native plants for the most part, naturescaping gives you the techniques for reducing water requirements and creating a nature-friendly landscape particularly suitable for your area of the country. Look for advice from your state extension service.
Installing The Framework
Once you make your decisions, plant the largest trees first. These are the backbone of the yard and need the most time to reach their potential. Next, lay out the shapes of the beds and pathways. These are the major lines of the garden. Use a garden hose to experiment with curves, then mark the lines with stones or grooves in the turf.