Suggestions for a DIY 'landscaping' renovation
First off, I'll preface this by saying I don't have any pictures...yet! I will try to get some up so it's more helpful in terms of the questions and concerns I have.
Basically, I have a smallish backyard (I'm going to guess 200-300 sq. ft. max) with four birds of paradise plants (including a giant bird of paradise), probably 8-10 rose bushes, a couple of jade trees, an unidentified tree (it's pretty small), and a few plants/cacti in pots. All the plants are against the sides of walls, so there's generally a path. If you can imagine, it can actually turn into a forest if not pruned consistently. My wife and I really don't enjoy going into our backyard at all because it's just gets really dusty out there and not so pleasant. The plants also attract lots of spiders, which she absolutely hates. So this makes tending to the forest a dreadful task.
Besides the plants, the yard area was originally covered with wood chips when I first moved in in '07; now it's mostly a mixture of packed dirt and wood chips (resulting from a combination of 'maintenance' and also rainier months). My father-in-law has come on several occasions to help prune and move some plants around (there was a Christmas tree plant that he moved that ended up dying really quickly probably because I didn't water it enough for the roots to really dig in).
Also, there are no gates or direct access to the backyard (and definitely no option to add one, since we're part of an association). The access is either through the kitchen or the master bedroom. Both of which are not really near the front door or garage. When we've pruned and cleaned the yard in the past, we've had to roll a garbage bin to the other side of the wall (it's about 6-8 ft high) and toss the yard scraps over the wall and into the bin. It's either that or carrying everything in giant garbage bags through the house. Such a pain...
I'm really not motivated to tend to these plants due to the amount of labor and time it takes to maintain them. If you don't maintain them consistently, they'll grow large. And when we're forced to prune them, it's a huge task. It's just a vicious cycle because we really hate going into the yard. Period.
I would much rather prefer to pull everything out back there, lay pavers across the entire yard (besides the two covered deck areas that exist, which are where the sliding glass doors for access are), and build out 2-3 raised beds to do something much more practical and to grow fruits/veggies/herbs. Also keep anything else potted. I'd imagine this would be easier to maintain as well.
I'd love the idea of transforming our yard. But bringing in pavers, lumber, top soil, etc... it all seems so intimidating. We're also still trying to get used to the idea of having to line the floors/carpet very well and use a wheel barrow for this. And contemplating how many days/weeks/months the inside of our home would be a construction prep site for our yard. I just feel like I'm in a hopeless catch-22 situation.
Does anyone have ideas or advice for small yards with no direct access?