The brown area is DIRT! The bright green is grass that migrated from the neighbor's yard. The top left area is sort of a wild area with small trees.
Since then: The magnolia was very sickly, so we had it cut down. The concrete stairs had migrated away from the back door, so we had a deck put in above them. Scott also installed a chain-link fence for the dog, and built raised beds for me. We put compost bins in the wild area, and otherwise left it as-is for small animal habitat. We put in a couple of beds, edged for now in spare brick.
The yard was looking better, and the grass was slowly spreading, but the dirt was still a big problem. The yard has poor drainage, which is not only annoying, but very bad for our poor foundation. We installed a sort of french drain in one really bad area (it was impossible to give it an outlet, so it has a deep hole at the "end" filled with rocks), and decided to try growing grass in another. We put in 50 blocks of sod today, which made a significant dent in the field of dirt. Scott decided that it would be fun to put in a small fish pond as well:
Here is the raised bed area viewed from the top right of the diagrams above:
The raised bed area from in front of the compost area:
Towards compost area from edge of new grassy area:
Toward house from in front of compost area:
Old herb area in one of the raised beds:
...moved to next to the new grassy area this weekend (see beer bottle garden in background):
Partially-sunk 100-gallon pre-formed pond liner in the ground:
Same surrounded by 50 blocks of St. Augustine sod:
Same from a different angle:
The next step is to add rock edging around the pond, and some plants in and out of the pond. We'll get a pump/filter and a few goldfish after that. We may add some more sod to the remaining dirt area eventually, depending on how well this does. Or we may just let this and the grass in the other part of the yard meet in the middle!
Advice is welcome!!!