Since I still don't have my camera back from Illinois (along with the spouse), I'm sharing these pictures of my yard.
This is my front yard. Except that it isn't really. We live in a wedge shaped lot, and the only thing that faces the street is our driveway. This is next to the house. Takes about 10 minutes to mow. The flagstone surrounds our spa.
Problem with a wedge shaped lot? As you can see.. I'm always looking at some part of neighbor's house except from straight back of my house.
This is my garden. It's behind the spa. It drops about 15' from the level of the lawn. I can look down on all the levels from the deck. The decking showing is part of the stairs heading below my deck.
This is the yard below the deck (and Jake). The dogs go out here, and I hang the laundry here. We do not water it, so although it's filled with green weeds, in another couple weeks it will be brown and stubbly.
Our house faces south with no protection from the sun. Without some external shade it is 10-15 degrees hotter at the windows than the center of rooms in the summer. So I hang shade curtains outside for the summer. Ugly, but life's more comfortable, and cool breezes do move through this.
The other end of the deck. The wind pushes everything to this end all summer, so I usually just keep it here. And spend most mornings put it back where it belongs. Next week 2 guys are going to build one of those covers over this side of the deck (trellis, portico, open roof, what are these called??). I can then decide to hang shades from the sides if I need more shade control. And we will hang our porch swing from the supports. I hope this works.