Location: Portland, Oregon
When I moved into my house the large backyard was nothing but weeds, Himalayan blackberry, and a cracked cement slab. I wanted to use the space for entertaining, so I focused on breaking up the yard into different "rooms" in the garden where people can spend time.
I loved the bamboo and Japanese plants that were already in the yard, and I've continued that theme, breaking up the palette with dark plants. I call it "Japanese Gothic".
I tore out the rotting tool shed, removed the concrete slab, and installed a rain garden and raised vegetable beds that double as seating. I have worked for the last two years to get a base of shrubs around the yard to create more privacy. I removed all of the invasive weeds by hand, without chemicals. My yard is certified by the Audubon Society as a backyard bird habitat.
I am hoping to create a corridor of green in the side entrance. As you enter from the front yard, a fern lined alley leads to a pathway banked with a rain garden (where the shed once stood). As the grasses I have planted in the rain garden fill in, and the shrubs and bamboo along the back of the garage grow tall, the effect should be a continuation of that alley and a gradual reveal of the full backyard.
I've probably spent about $2000 overall revamping thus far. My next step is to build a low-slung deck, plant some trees in the center of the yard for height, and continue the pathways through the other side yard and into the front. We eat in the backyard every day in the summer and I spent a lot of time, even in the winter, watching the birds and walking through my garden.