Design help for side-sloping lot
I recently purchased this home, and the prior owners were not much into gardening. I'd like to improve the curb appeal of the house, reduce the "boxiness" of the house (without trying to pretend it's anything other than a rectangular rancher), as well as relieve some pain points when mowing -- there are a couple of nasty slopes.
I'm also trying to do this for a reasonably affordable price and without requiring too much maintenance. I have a tentative plan at the bottom, but I wanted to see if anyone had any other ideas.
Front view. The house faces almost due south. Those are two very large ash trees in front.:
Corner view. Note gas meter on corner where I'd love to have a decorative tree to balance that side of the house, but the underground lines interfere:
Problem area in back. I expect to be replacing the ancient A/C soon as well as the high-tech "pad" it's on:
Dimensions. Sorry for the large size, but otherwise it was unreadable. Yes, the gas line really does run right under that tree. I also own the lot downslope of the house.
Tentative plan --
In the front, I am thinking of long shallow "steps" made with landscaping timbers and a mass planting along the front porch area. In front of the existing shrubs, add day lilies and daffodils, which I have around the property that need to be dug and separated anyway. The existing shrubs have been in place for a long time and are unlikely to get any larger; I would not be against pulling some out and adding something with more height. They are a mix of red and white azaleas and a couple of other evergreens I can't ID.
Along the side, a couple of somewhat shade-tolerant trees -- japanese maples or similar -- with mixed shrubs and flowers. Grass pathway, or maybe pavers in the future.
In the back, same style steps but they would be to be steeper. Patio pavers at the bottom. Cover the worst of the slope with another mass planting and a few things along the fence to make the entrance to the back yard more welcoming.
Any suggestions welcome!