for ramiro, sylvia
use of brick and pavers makes the area useable for a chair - or as a walkway. concrete pavers are cheap - or easily made.
hermana - i think you need a tree.... (for your own yard.) walls must be carefully treated so as not to be monoliths - see here the height variation - and how he breaks it with the fountain.
carry it through to the side yard...
vary in height , density and color
get some color going, girl, make your gente proud!
you gotta have a pot, and one of those fuzzy things! see here how both the gravel and the redwood mulch make this look fabulous!
this concept is interesting - you could achieve a focal point with gravel and a few bricks - (use of some brick in the new area is advised because you already have it in the side yard - and you need to bring it through...) and then put a large plant on a pedestal - (i have great success with my bowls of succulents) in the midst of a design of gravel and brick. these are cheap materials, and you can cover a lot of real estate for very little money, and have a fab focal point that's all you! consider a spiral or a labrinth---
for your house, : use a mix of river rock, gravel, and redwood mulch - to define areas and give it interest - keep it from looking like an arizona track home - sterile is so easy a trap to fall into with native plants, and so easy to avoid by varying materials.
California deer grass - a must. why not put another grape arbor out front?
california deer grass
a grape arbor could be the front entrance to the side yard
vary color, height (consider forming some low hills) and texture (little leaves vs big leaves.
do this instead -- Note, saltillo pavers can be set in pea gravel - and then a larger gap in them can be filled with river rock - which flows up like a stream getting wider, to a planted area...