When we bought this house in May of 2006 we didn't have a backyard. What we had was a huge expanse of crappy bermuda grass lawn, weeds, and uneven ground from years of dogs digging and rolling about. There were also 2 mulberry trees that had been cut down and "killed" many times only to resurrect every year. We finally got those killed off the the stumps ground out. Then the real fun began.
Our first task was to clear years of untrimmed ivy hedge from the fence, clear the piles of weeds and brush from the edges of the yard and rototill the nice planter that frames the yard. The soil is actually really nice, at some point in this home's 50 year history there may have been a well tended backyard filled with flowers and bushes.
We had no privacy from the neighbor behind us on the other side of the ally, just a chain link fence. We couldn't afford to put up a new fence or a block wall but I found this nice heavy duty fabric (Solarscreen)at Lowes I could zip tie to the existing fence that let us still see comings and going in the ally and still give us some privacy. Its so It also let light thru nicely. Seeing the yard in such disarray was very overwhelming at first. I had dreams of flowers and fruit trees and green lawn and a swing set for my daughter. Now it was up to us to convert the potential we saw into reality. Its a nice location, it faces south so it gets full sun year round in about 90% of the yard. Only along the fence does it become pretty shady in the middle of winter from the suns angle.
We started by adding fruit trees in that planter. The plan is to semi-espalier them so they provice more privacy from the neighbors and the ally behind us, provide some shade to the ground below and give us some nice fresh fruit. We planted a satsuma plum, kadota fig, mexican lime, valencia orange, honey babe peach, papaya, "minicado" avacado, bartlet pear, misty blueberry bush, and a mango tree in a large pot ( we didnt know what its permanent location would be yet.
The east side of the yard is bordered with a chan link fence covered in ivy. I really don't like ivy hedges. I'm afriad rats and all sorts of nasty critters will be hiding underneath, plus leaves and trash tend to blow under and get stuck in it. I also hate leaving places where wasps or black widows could be hiding ( as is every mother's fear) so I decided to trim it to the fence.....whereever it was. The ivy was so thick when we bought the place we didn't realize we had a good 4 feet of space and another planter on that side of the yard until I trimmed it like a crazy mad woman until it was flush with the fence. Looking at this photo the ivy extended well beyond the old hose post and water faucet. I discovered those the hard way with my shins when I walked "into" the ivy to trim it closer to the fence. Ouch.
The SE part of this side is full sun, very hot and fairly dry since theres no sprinkler there, so I put in some bougenvillas for color and to weave into the ivy for added privacy ( the screening effect was very patchy after I cut so much of the ivy back). The other part of that side ( next to the BBQ in these pictures) is in almost full sun in the summer but deep shade and cold in the winter. A good place for annuals I suppose. Its also directly viewable from the glass doors in my living room, so eventually I do want something thats pretty and more or less permanent...maybe a camellia shrub, some lillies, and a clemantis vine.