When I purchased the home, the backyard was basically a field of neglected grass, weeds, and some poorly executed decorative projects. There is a lot of stuff I would like to do, but it will of course take time and money. That being said, I was able to get the yard where it is today by re-purposing things the previous owner had in the backyard and by searching for discounted items.
Unfortunately, the garden is bare right now because I didn't plant many winter crops because of some back issues, but picture several types of tomato plants in the raised beds along with cucumber, zucchini, yellow squash, pole beans, and a few others and that's what it looked like last spring and summer. It's been great because I've been able to share what I've harvested with many of my neighbors!
Step 1: Before
It's a little hard to see, but the previous owner put in a planting bed and a little pond toward the back by bordering those areas with retaining wall stone. The pond looked terrible and wasn't functioning, so everything got taken out.
Step 2: After
I re-purposed the retaining wall stone and used them to make raised garden beds. I also used some flagstone that was on the property to create some pathways in the gravel and to border the fire pit that I constructed.
I was able to get the plants extremely cheap. I originally thought it would take years to buy the plants I would need/want, but I found deeply discounted plants at some local home improvement stores. One day, I bought $400 worth of plants that were discounted to $60.
I was also lucky to find paver stones that were 50% off, so I have a pathway going from the steps all the way back to the shed, a pathway from that one that goes toward the shade structure and then the rest of the pavers were used to build a small patio under the structured).
I also put in a drip irrigation system so it would be easy to maintain. Every plant is on the system, so I don't have to worry about someone else watering them when I go camping, etc.
Anyway, it's a work in progress and I'm looking forward to planting some new crops in the next few months.