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Starting first planted tank

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Hi, I'm Allie.

I am just getting back into owning fish after college. After doing lots of research, and seeing what can be done with plants (aquascaping videos are so calming, who knew?), I'm excited to get into it!

So, here's the basic run down.

I have a 40 gallon breeder tank. I'm buying the basics for it a little at a time to go easy on the budget-- I'm not in a hurry. So far I have the tank, a nice piece of driftwood, and a hose for cleaning the tank. I have plans to get much more of course, and will be gathering pieces over the next weeks as I see them come on sale.

I want this to be a pretty basic community tank. Here's a summary of what I want in there:
Basically, I'm looking to keep the guppy population fairly self-regulating with some other fish who'll eat the fry, and have a good variety of color without having too few of a schooling/shoaling variety.

I'd like to keep some pretty easy plants, since I'm a beginner. What are some good suggestions for this type of tank with these kinds of fish? It would be low or medium lighting, fairly warm. What substrate and fertilizer do you suggest with this kind of tank?

I'd like to start by putting in a good substrate for plants, with some fine sand on top. I'll place my rocks and driftwood in that, start cycling with some ammonia, then start planting. Do I have to wait for it to cycle to plant? Or can I plant right away as long as I put some fertilizer in the substrate/water?

I want to keep it relatively simple, but I'm willing to take my time and put the work in.
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