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The plants you choose don't have to be expensive. Instead of going to a landscape company, visit the Big Box store and see what appeals to you. Look for yards in your area that you like and see what they are growing.
Don't over-plant. Look at the mature size of plants and use your measuring tape to get accurate spacing. Plan your garden on paper (use your measureing tape and graph paper). Put the foundation plantings in first (trees), then add shrubs.
Prepare your area before you start. Get rid of weeds, then water and get rid of weeds. This may take awhile.
And remember, you don't have to plant the entire yard in one year.