The results of about 3 weekends of work -- the garden is planted. Not much more needs to be said -- unless of course you drop me questions in the comments. We changed things around since last year. One of the major changes is in the weed control department. If you don't have hands on experience, just trust me when I say that your major battle in any garden is weeds.
Our "boy" Ed Smith recommended a layer of newspaper on top of a freshly weeded bed covered by grass clippings (free) or straw (not free). We went with a mixture. Grass clippings covering the majority and we used straw on the main walkways for greater durability.
I guess the other major change is that this year we went with landscaping fabric around the plants instead of the black plastic. Although the plastic does a great job on the weeds, it doesn't allow water to pass through -- so that will help with watering and such. And the newspaper/grass clippings/hay will also help hold mositure in the soil.
The next project will be to finish the raised flower bed. The materials are being delivered this week and I hope to have a good portion of it completed by next weekend. I'm excited to try out the Trex -- its a composite product made of a unique combination of wood and plastic fibers. Super durable and a bit easier on the earth than pressure treated wood.