Pick A Spot
Most plants need about six solid hours of direct sunlight every day. Observe how the sun shines on your yard for a few days to figure out the spots that get the most sun. Steer clear of shrubs and trees that will block any potential sunlight when they are in full leaf. If you don't have any sunny options in your yard, you can create a container garden or plan a vertical garden to put in a sunny spot on concrete, on your porch, or on your patio.
The first thing you should figure out is when the average last frost is for your region. There are some hardy plants that can handle a little cold weather, but many of the lovely flowers that brighten yards in the summer can't survive a frost. What's confusing is that the growing season of the plants you want in your yard probably won't match up with the last frost. But this is where the real planning begins--some of those plants will need to be started indoors and transplanted once the ground is warm enough for them.
For flowers, start a chart of all the flowers you like and when they bloom. You likely don't want a big burst of hydrangeas, lilacs, and freesia in your yard in May with nothing to dazzle your lawn for the rest of the summer. Create a schedule so that you have color to look forward to all summer long by choosing a few flowers that bloom in each month. The same idea can be applied to vegetable gardening--choose according to the harvest schedule so you'll always have fresh vegetables throughout the growing season.
Put It On Paper
Once you know all of the flowers and vegetables you want to see in your garden this spring, draw up a plan for where you want to see flowers, where the vegetables will flourish, and what plants grow well together. This will cut down on prep time in the spring when you need check your soil and make any adjustments to it so your plants and flowers thrive.
If you want to see your plants grow into elegant flowers, your seeds and bulbs should be ordered by February. This will give you a good amount of time to start some, if not all, of your plants inside. You can also buy your plants as seedlings from a nursery as the last frost approaches, but growing plants from seeds gives you time to get to know their needs so you can help them thrive once they've found a home outside.
It's never too early to start thinking about your summer garden. We only get so much time every year to enjoy the outdoors, and a robust garden allows you to appreciate the season with all of your senses.