Best way for clearing back yard for planting

I have a problem and I need some advice. I have a small back yard that is quite shady that back to woods. We have a small lawn and 2 large trees surrounded by a weeded dirt area that needs to be cleaned of all roots and weeds before I can plant there. What is the best way to clean up that area for planting? Do I need one of those small earth movers or can I do this by hand? I would really like to fix this up to look nice but I definitely need some advice.
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A small 4-tine hand cultivator, or maybe a spading fork, should do the job nicely if you don't mind a little manual labor. The cultivator will work if the soil isn't too hard, the spading fork is a much sturdier tool that can dig into something that's been compacted into a good substitute for concrete.

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