Posted: 05/11/2014 at 12:30
Welcome. Sounds like you've got your priorities right - structure first. Newt is soil preparation which is best done thoroughly so you only have to do it once.
One tip once you have your edges done is to pile on lots of compost and/or well rotted manure and let the worms and weather work it in over wnter. Easier than digging, especially for your back. In spring you can then simply fork it over, removing any weeds and stones as you go then rake it over and plant in spring. This way you have all winter for playing with layouts and plant lists.
Get some bulbs in now if you can though as they need all winter to grow their roots to be ready to put up shoots and flowers next spring.
New shrubs and roses are best planted in autumn as they then have all winter to grow new roots, especially the feeding roots and shoudn't need extra watering next year. However, if you haven't yet got the soil ready or haven't yet decided what to grow, you can also plant container grown specimens at any time of year as long as soak the roots before planting and you keep them well watered till the autumn rains come.