When I bought our house almost 6 years ago, it was pretty much a blank slate; a 1946 salt box in a blue collar neighborhood. Nothing special or pretty about it. Pretty plain. All grass yard. I started by tiling the bathroom, then painted the house, then tiled the kitchen, then we put in a rock wall out front and then last year we did a big remodel on the kitchen/dining room and put french doors out the back and a new Trex deck.
And now you walk out on the deck and it is, well, a little depressing at how ugly the backyard is looking. We took out a ton of laurel along the alley, we finally paid someone to trim the rest of the laurel (that will now look ugly for the next 6 months and allows us to see our neighbor's equally ugly back yard), and we finally hired a landscaper designer to help us figure out the easiest way to get all of the elements we want and help us pick out plants.
The designer was the most important element. He worked with the basic design I had already drawn out, but gave us lots of plant ideas and lots of options for walkways, pavers, etc. But most importantly, he made us realize it isn't as hard as it looks and it is within reach.
So now we are going for it, no stopping this motivation train. Last weekend we took out the old concrete stairs leading to the old back door (that is no longer there) and yesterday I hauled all of the concrete chunks out of the yard onto a trailer to be hauled away.
What is so satisfying about hard labor? I was intimidated at first to use the jackhammer. It is heavy as hell and you're afraid you'll put it right through your foot, but it is pretty fun once you get the hang of it.
And now I have an excavator coming next week to rip out all of the sod, a tree stump or two, and he is going to help us bring in gravel in the alley, build a dry well, and dig out for our patio and walkway. We are going to be doing the patio and walkways and plantings ourselves. Watch this space for our metamorphosis into a lovely garden butterfly.