Here's the basic plan for the yard.
To parse it, we're on a corner lot, subdivided, with no access to the back alley. Our only parking is out on the street, in front of the sidewalk. You can park along the south side (to the right in the drawing), but only if you're prepared to have an average of 2 vehicles totalled every 5 years due to thru traffic from the bar down the road.
The two trees at the top right corner shade the backyard almost entirely, and the side yard to the left of the house is permanently shaded. We've decided to install a patio throughout. No grass at all. We'll be putting in a shed where we can fit it (the side yard is almost 10 feet wide so we might stick two small sheds along the fence there).
Back and side yards will have a 6 foot privacy fence. Front yard will have a 4 foot fence that the dog won't be able to jump. A gate will connect the front yard to the back on the left front of the house, but we'll be able to seal front and back off when we want.
We'll be putting in a parking pad to the south (right). This is ideal, since that's the side of the house with flooding problems during heavy rain (we have a crack in the foundation at the corner of my sons' bedroom window). Concrete sloped away from the house will deal with that problem. Two birds, one stone.
Walkways from the back and the parking pad to the front door and then down to the sidewalk will be 3 feet wide (wheelchair accessible). We've yet to decide whether we'll do poured concrete or pavers for those. Either way, they'll probably wait until next spring.
The contractor is grading the property, and will install a base of crush to prep for pavers/concrete everywhere we want them. He's ripping out the old fence and will sink 4x6 posts for a new wooden privacy fence. We'll construct the fence from there and install the pavers ourselves, and we may pour/finish the concrete as well. Almost all of this will have to happen in the spring.
We'll put in a raised flower bed against the front of the house on the right side in front of the living room window and will probably replace the front porch (which was built by vagabonds) next year.
I'll cut the rain barrels in half and convert them into planters for herbs, tomatoes and possibly mosquito repellent plants to place on the patio. The wood piled in the corner of the yard will be aged perfectly for a fire bowl once everything is done and ready to use. By the time the backyard is done, it will be a "second living room".
Front yard will be grass turf and "dog territory". I have a patch of very nice looking, steppable, tiny purple flowers with small, scalloped leaves that I may harvest before they are demolished to augment the lawn.
Anyway, that's the basic plan for now. It will essentially take our house from the one bringing everyone's property values down to adding 3X the value to our property than we'll spend. And we'll be able to use our barbecue! And maybe enjoy the outdoors without sinking in mud or being eaten alive by mosquitoes living in unmowable grass and weeds growing on soggy, uneven ground that you can't push a lawn mower over.
And eventually, we'll be able to let our dog out just by opening the door, rather than by putting her on a leash and taking her outside.