Posted: 23/04/2012 at 13:42
Rome wasn't built in a day, believe me, I know your story. When I moved in to my house 17yrs ago, I had 100ft of blank canvas.
My advice is to start small, and think from the ground upwards. Most people start near the house because its a functional area, get to know your location, the aspect of your garden (where the sun rises and falls), follow the shadows cast during the day so that you will instinctively understand shady areas from sunny ones. Do a soil test and watch through the year to see how your soil reacts to downpours and drought. Take your time with style. I determine my wants by knowing what I don't want. At least it saves me hideous mistakes.
Get the hard edges defined before the soft stuff. It's far easier to plant next to a wall than try to build a wall through plants. (believe me, I know!).
Research garden styles and designs on the net, there are thousands of interesting gardening blogs. Buy or borrow books from the library and watch Alan Titchmarsh *How to be a gardener* on Youtube.
This forum is a great bonus, we're a friendly bunch without prejudice of style or depth of knowledge.
Remember to start small. One step at a time. Each year I improve my garden a little bit more, but no matter my time or budget or energy, I would never presume to reach perfection in a heartbeat, gardening isn't about reaching the end, its about enjoying the journey.
Best of luck! And you just earned yourself a bunch of gardening nerdy friends