I'd suggest the necessary first step is pretty darned complicated. Namely, get yourself a plant and stick it in the gravel.
I'm only partly kidding. You can grow anubias in almost any light, and in an established tank, your gravel will be well-enriched. We've discussed in the past the relative merits of going to planted step-by-step as opposed to all at once. I think many people shy away from going planted thinking it is a huge process with several decisions that need to be made all at once.
OTOH, you can grow anubias, java ferns, and crypts in just about any tank. Tho you won't see much growth, they will certainly survive. You can even start out with a mix of live and plastic plants. Then, when you want to see more growth, up the lighting, start adding and tweaking your ferts, mix some flourite or laterite into your gravel, and toss on a DIY CO2. The plastic plants will disappear as you are able to grow more interesting live plants. Similarly, you may find yourself losing the rocks in order to free up more planting space. And the fish can hide in the new foliage.
Enjoy. And keep us posted.
55gal - Coralife 4x65w cf, xp3, flourite, Hydor ETH300w, pressurized CO2 w/ rex(TM) reactor!
30gal - 55W AH, ecco 2232, flourite/gravel, DIY CO2 w/ Hagen ladder
3gal - endlers/cherry shrimp
4W cf, Red Sea deco nano, flourite