Creating your yard is a three dimension act.
Jot down a plan on some paper, and play with the
plan as though you were arranging a room in your house.
The plants being the furniture: the yard being the room.
Continue on paper, add some nice detailing in: stepping stones, a place for the grill, where furniture would go.
Start a little notebook of plants that you like.
Check out some upscale neighborhood entry ways, and public gardens, local plant nurseries.
There is nothing as strong as a visual confirmation on what you had in mind.
Keep in mind the varying shades of green trees and shrubs come in and how many seasons a plant can perform for you. A lot of the plants in Charlotte can bring you three seasons of color!
Remember, once planted, these things grow up and out. Space them accordingly. Follow directions.
Curb appeal should not be relegated to just the front yard.
Take photos of your backyard in the morning and in the afternoon. That way, if you are not sure on how a plant will do in your yard, you can always discuss its location and adaptability with the local nursery.
The clay soil in Charlotte is rich in minerals and once amended, the things that you can grow here are almost limitless. The time to plant and work on next year's yard improvements is in the Fall.
It takes a weekend to paint a room in your home.
This is fine. But, paint for a new buyer is something they plan on doing anyway. It won't improve your home's future marketability like a good yard will.
It takes time to develop your yard.
My suggestion...start educating yourself about landscaping this summer, and start your home's yard this Fall!