This morning I raked the dirt, and it was clear that all of the bulk removed when I removed the sod had dropped the level of the dirt an inch below the lawn, so I filled the wheelbarrow halfway or so with some of my recently purchased dirt and dumped it on the patch, then raked it smooth.
Once I had the garden ready, I put some stakes in to give me a rough guide for where to plant which flowers. I started with a row of Cypress Vine (think Scarlet Morning Glories) against the fence, then planned for a staggered row of milkweed (two of the stakes in each set), then Black-Eyed Susans (Rudbeckia), Daisies, and Dwarf Blue Sage.
In order to make the plants even, I made myself a measuring stick. Using a measuring tape when actually crawling around on the ground has too many issues, so I made one out of scrap wood. I made a full line every 12 inches, and along one edge I made half-lines every 4 inches, while on the other edge I made half-lines every 6 inches. I can use this to plant at any multiple of 4 or 6 inches (some of my plans were for 8 inches, for example). Since the stick is heavy and rigid I don't have to worry about wind.
So, I used the stakes and the stick, and to make sure I didn't sink too far into the fresh dirt I used a scrap piece of plywood shelving to kneel on, and planted the Cypress Vine and the Milkweed. The Rudbeckia, Daisies, and Sage will have to wait, because the important thing for me this weekend is planting live plants (I did the Cypress Vine because it is behind the Milkweed), and I have Forsythia bushes and Ajuga plants, plus my Tomato and Pepper plants to get in the ground.