Moved to a house with a big yard that needs a lot of work. Any ideas?

(Long post warning, but hey, there are photos!)

Six months ago I moved to a house that had previously been owned by an older woman living alone and she let the yard go in a bad way. The backyard is about 3/4 acre that she wasn't able to keep up with so it's all covered in weeds and ivy that I'm struggling to keep mowed down.

What I've Got

There's a really awkward chain link fence that has a long skinny run and only closes in a part of the yard. Our dogs love it so I figure I'll keep this here until they're gone (they're both around 10 years old and I'm trying not to think about it).

I think of the backyard in three parts – upper backyard, lower left backyard – inside the dog pen, lower right backyard – outside the dog pen. It makes a big L shape that goes down behind our house and extends behind the neighbor's house.

What Needs To Go

There are several poorly-done and overgrown tree rings. I've been collecting the rocks and timbers into a stockpile for a project (suggestions welcome).

There's this…thing…on the side yard. It's big, it's ugly, I can't get to the front yard on the mower without going around it, and the vine on it is impossible to trim without a ladder, which I can't use because the ground is so uneven there's nowhere to safely put one. This is all coming down ASAP so I'll have some more wood in my stockpile.

The front yard is mostly fine but there a couple of random things built with castle stones I can happily get rid of and put the stones in my stockpile – one, two

There's a heavily overgrown corner of the lower-right yard. I'd love to have the brush cleared out but keep the trees to stick a playhouse there when we have kids.

I do like the deck (bonus dogs!) but there's a big empty space underneath I feel is wasted. It slopes up toward the house but could it at least be used for some kind of storage? A sitting spot? A lower deck? Anything?

What I Like

For the lower yards I'd love to have something that looks natural, doesn't need constant work, but is still usable. I know this will be tough because of how steep it gets below the upper yard. I can't really describe what I want, but I've always been fascinated by hobbit houses, Cameron's house in Ferris Beuller's Day Off, the house in Ex Machina, and the heavily wooded creek area I used to play around in when I was little. This is pretty close to what I have in mind. I think it would be awesome to level out that slope into steps where I could stock hammocks, chairs, anything like that, but still keep that nice wooded feel to it.

I'm completely overwhelmed, so any and all advice is much appreciated. Thanks for reading all this rambling!

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