My yard has been a nightmare for me. It was a "fixer upper" as much as the house... with one major difference: I couldn't fix up the yard myself. Even if I could withstand long hours in the sun, I didn't have the physical strength or the equipment required to do the work. I would have to hire someone.
To my surprise, hiring someone turned out to be extremely difficult. When I wanted smaller jobs done, landscapers considered it not worth their time. I'd tell them my budget, and they'd practically laugh in my face. Later, when I'd saved up enough money to have major work done, landscapers didn't take me seriously; either they didn't believe I had the money, or they didn't believe I would be willing to spend it on a small, older house.
Everything I tried backfired. I found one landscaper willing to take the job; he used the cheapest materials and did a horribly sloppy job. I had a tree planted; it was too close to the house and caused the basement wall to crack. I hired someone to mow; he decapitated half the sprinklers.
The situation caused me immense distress. I'd look at the yard and want to scream or cry (or both). It was a huge problem I could not solve, and it kept me up at night.
FINALLY, after three years of searching, I found a landscaper who seemed trustworthy and who took me seriously. He agreed to take the job, a complete overhaul of the entire yard - front, back and sides.
It was a tremendous amount of work. He and his helper worked 10+ hours a day for 16 days. The end result? An outstanding job! I'm pretty picky, and the result exceeded even my expectations. Finally, I can look at my yard and smile instead of crying or screaming!
(No, it's not a lush lawn surrounded by a riot of flowering shrubs. But I live in arid Colorado. Green things, especially lawns, require enormous amounts of watering.)
Here are some before and after comparisons. (I didn't paint the house. The color looks darker because the after pictures were taken on a rainy day.)
And here are some before and after pictures of the back yard. The amount of lawn was reduced to about one third, which will save hundreds of gallons of water every year. Much of the yard is pea gravel, which is easy for my small dogs to walk around on.