Where I live, we have very hard water at 8.5 ph! So all I did was add driftwood. There were two reasons:
1)IMO, driftwood makes planted tanks look awesome
2)It softens the water and lowers ph naturally
The catch? Without taking the right step (soaking it in water, boiling, etc...) some types of driftwood wont sink right away, and most will stain your water a dark red or amber color and that kills the light in your tank. Honestly though, I didn't do any of that stuff for my driftwood, I just stuck it in there and I didn't have probelms with floating (it's malaysian driftwood). My water started turning amber, but the weekly 50% water changes take care of that problem, and here is what my 10g nano tank looks like:
The plants have grown in a lot since this photo was taken, but you get the general idea right?
Heres what I have in there:
Wisteria (still small, behind the Dwood)
Dwarf Chain sword (2 runners since this pic! woohoo)
Corkscrew Val (1 runner since pic
Bacopa Monineri sp? (moneywort)
Dwarf Hair Grass
2 diff anubias, or crypts (unsure, I got them from sparkysko, who I recently bought an 80g tank from, they're still babies, lol)
As you can see from the pic, this is all being grown in plain gravel, with just a dose of "leaf zone" once every couple of weeks, 2wpg, no need for co2. It's crowded so I gotta stay on top of trimming since most of these plants are fast growers and shade themselves and other plants. But all of them are growing good, except the rotala rotundifolia (my ottos have trouble squeezing in there to get the algae off the lower leaves). If I post an updated pic, you'd see how much more pink the sunset hygro has gotten.
Sorry for this long a** post, but I thought that my setup could help you out a lot. HTH, and good luck with your tank. (Feel free to PM me if you have more questions)