Your yard presents you with nearly infinite design and use opportunities. Depending on whether or not you own your property (or what your landlord's rules are) you may or may not have free reign when it comes to landscaping. Assuming, though, you have completely or significant control over your yard, you can tailor it to your specific wants and needs.
Before you actually start any landscaping work, you should first decide exactly what it is you want to do. Since there are many things you may want to do and you may not have the resources to do them all at once, it's good to have a plan of action, so that the most important things get done first.
Here are some tips:
Create a blueprint - Make a sketch of your yard, visualizing and then marking what you want to do with each part. It's a good idea to take your blueprint out into your yard to get a better sense of where things should be.
Plants - Decide what kinds of plants you want and where want to put them. You can determine which plants grow best in the local environment and select those that you will be best able to care for.
Yard Accessories - There all kinds of accessories you might want in your yard. For example, you might want to install a fountain, pool, or rock wall. Contact installation professionals for ideas and quotes, and then arrange for installation. You can also choose to do some of these projects yourself. If so, make sure you do some research so you know exactly what you're doing.
Landscaping - You may choose to hire landscapers to come and restructure your yard, plant trees or bushes, etc. Make sure you do extensive research to find the best price and to make sure that any work is within legal zoning restrictions. Also check with a building contractor to see if you'll need any building permits.
Budget - Make a budget for your yard projects. If there are things you can't afford to do right away, save that section of your yard for when you are ready.
As mentioned above, there are nearly infinite landscaping options out there for you to choose from. Here, though, are a few popular ideas:
Deck or patio - Plan on having a lot of barbecues over the summer? Use some of your yard space for a deck or patio. There are many options available to you. For example, you can have a classic wooden deck with an awning or a screened-in patio.
Pool - A pool is a great way to escape from the summer heat. An in-ground pool is the most expensive, but most durable, option. Aboveground pools are cheaper and can be incorporated as part of your deck. A hot tub is another good option.
Garden - Gardens allow you to grow all sorts of things. You could grow flowers to keep in the garden, put in your house, or give as gifts to others. You could also plant your own vegetables. A vegetable garden is a great alternative to buying frozen or canned vegetables from the store.
Open space - You might want to leave some open space in your yard. Having some open space makes your yard very versatile. You can use it for sports, campouts, and even events like weddings.
Grading - You can actually reshape the physical structure of your yard via a process known as grading; level you lawn, remove a hill, etc.
Other ideas - Consider installing a fountain or buying lawn furniture, lawn sports equipment, a hammock, or whatever else strikes your fancy.
Those certainly aren't all of your options, but should be enough to get the creative wheels turning!