I've been avoiding the gardening posts because I'm itching to get into the dirt and can't yet so it frustrates me. I'll be lucky to get an herb garden in this year. You should look into permaculture as it works with the environment, as opposed to against it like most western gardening does. I'm just now learning about it so can't offer too much advice other than the book Gaia's Garden by Toby Hemenway, which is one of the better books on the subject.
I plan on landscaping as much as possible with herbs and fruit bushes. I don't do lawns. I'd really like to have a fenced in garden that doubles as a chicken coop at some point if I could convince the dog not to terrorize them.