It's too early to get into the garden, but it's never too early to plan for it. Whether you're an established flower gardener or a newbie, here are some ideas to try as soon as the ground thaws.

1. Resolve to start a compost bin.

Don't waste vegetable matter by throwing it into your garbage can when it can create fertile organic soil and relieve landfill burdens at the same time. Visit a garden store or home improvement center to find the perfect composter. Opt for a fully enclosed tumbler if you have wildlife that loves to rummage in the pile. Try a compact unit for a city space. Or, if you're on a budget, build your own with recycled materials.

2. Resolve to create a veggie bed.

During the Great Depression, home gardens fed entire families. Every home with a yard can easily support a garden, but you don't need to build a raised bed. While they're popular now, they're an unnecessary expense. Simply till up a sunny patch of your yard come spring, work in some compost, then plant it. It really is just that easy.

3. Lose some lawn.

Do away with any small, isolated areas of grass like narrow boulevards, strips along the driveway or spots under shady trees. Plant them with hardy plants appropriate for the sites or fill them with gravel, cobblestone or flagstone, which add texture and color with minimal maintenance.

4. Plant habitat.

Instead of spending lots of cash on birdseed and feeders, fill your garden with plants that supply food for birds naturally. Native plants, shrubs and trees offer fruit, seed and shelter in your garden as in the wild. Birds will come to dine and, hopefully, build a nest and stay for the season.

5. Use your fountain as a planter.

If this summer turns out to be a hot, dry one, you may consider planting in your fountain. Rather than losing water to evaporation, you can create a lush container garden of cactus and succulents.