The better you know your yard, the more able you are to successfully accomplish its landscaping. Start with a soil test, which will help you determine which plants grow best and how to amend your flowerbeds and vegetable beds appropriately. Most county extension services run a soil test for a minimal fee.
To capture rainwater runoff to use for irrigation (and trim your water bill in the process), integrate a rain barrel in your yard. You can make an inexpensive one using a large plastic garbage can covered with netting, or you can buy one with an integrated downspout.
Weather and animals such as rabbits can be deadly for tender spring transplants. Protect yours by cutting out the bottoms of 3- to 5-gallon plastic nursery pots. Press the rings into the soil around the seedlings. Bonus: The rings work year after year to help keep young plants warm.