This year I am working two garden areas. One is my vegetable garden, which I replant every year, the other is a new permanent garden. (O.K. The dirt patch has been there for like 10 yrs, but I finally got the retaining wall put in and my difficult shade plants figured out so I can plant this year.)
In my permanent garden bed, I drew it and then just wrote in what plants go where. Some I will have to buy/order, some are already there and some will be planted/transplanted this spring.
I have places for elderberry bushes, lilac, various roses, wintergreen, dwarf dogwood, meadowsweet and I still have some open space that I havn't decided yet. I am debating between herb robert, joe pye and figwort.
This has some pretty deep shade, and some moderate shade but nothing that qualifies as 'sun/lightshade' except the front corner which already has elderberry in it. So many choices, so little ground.
In my ever changing vegetable garden, I have one bed which has perennial plants, and the rest are blank. I sectioned it off into square feet (since that's the type of bed I have, if yours is different you can try rows) so that I can determine how many of what plants I will put in. I photo copy my blank garden so that I don't have to re-draw it every year. If you are not using garden beds, don't forget walking space between rows!
I have 6- 4x8 and 3- 2x8 beds. This is not the exact layout, but this is the quantity and sizes of beds I have.
Then I just have to decide how many of which plants to put in.
So this year, my garden will look like this