To me it's about placement,color and structure . With a bit of imagination. Some local nursery's will come out to your home and help you design area's in your yard for no charge. They just want you to buy the plants from them . Really that's not a bad deal. You can also take your own drawing of a plan you've designed to a nursery they are very helpful.Just make sure you know how much sun you get in that area.Depending on how much time you have and your ability to work in the yard, will certainly give you a idea of what plant to choose.
These pictures I got off the internet, very inspiring. If shade is your desire an arbor whether connected to your house or out in the middle of your yard is a inexpensive way to add real drama to your back yard. Surround it with a few evergreens, potted plants and perennials. What ever you have time to take care of.
For me, I want simple yet defining.Lots of dark green plants that have height and texture with smaller pops of color in front .
Don't forget to share perennials with your friends after a few years.You can break them up easily.Bulbs are great for that.Choose ones that will hang around till the fall that's what I call getting more bang for your buck
Stone doesn't have to be expensive.I used to get mine free on camping trips . Look for old dried up river beds.You would not believe what you can fine. Lowe's also has kits for making path way stones. Just buy some Quickcrete, have a few buckets mix it up and scoop it in the mold. Wow in a afternoon you can have a beautiful walkway or patio nook.They even have tint you can add to the mix for added color, it is so cool!