Go pro: Hire a landscape designer
Landscape designers keep function top of mind when shaping your yard's new form. Do you need more privacy? Would you prefer not to obstruct your views? Do you entertain outdoors?
These pros will "age" your plantings for up to 20 years into the future and "hardscape" your yard with walls, paths, benches, arbors or pergolas, according to Martin Maca, professor of landscape design at South Dakota State University in Brookings. They'll take into account any problems that could evolve over time, such as tree roots that could threaten a structure, obstacles to mowing or plants that could become eyesores.
In the end, you will want a design that's functional, maintainable and in scale with your house.
Of course, professional insight and talent comes with a price. Most landscape designers charge $50 to $150 per hour for their services.
Keep in mind, though, that unlike landscape architects, landscape designers are unregulated and do not have to pass a certification test to work in the field. The industry does have professional associations, and designers in these groups are more vetted. The Association of Professional Landscape Designers is a good place to look for APLD-certified designers.