Opinions on Back Yard Gardens

OK, the inside remodeling is almost done and the weather is getting cooler so it's time to start thinking of landscaping the back yard and the front too. Two things we absolutely have to have is a storeroom and a screened in porch. I have several large Chinese Tallow trees, one tree I'm not sure what kind it is, and a couple of small Pecan trees in back. The back yard is about 80' wide and 50' deep. There's also some English ivy in several spots in back and on the back wall of the house is what I think is a ficus of some kind. I bought some Irish moss for some of the shady areas, especially by the a/c drip. There are naturalised Corn lilies there as well that I would like to keep. I need ideas on shady and semi shady plants, things that would do well with a minimum of care and would possibly stay green all year. I'm in zone 9.
I don't really want a lot of flowers because I don't want a lot of bees and such around. Has anyone ever done a garden with just foliage?
I am going to put in a nicer birdbath than I have now, some garden ornaments, and something to hide the phone box the phone company so kindly put in my yard.
One of the problem areas is going to be where my dad had a sort of garage/workshop with a cement rubble floor. He did a lot of work on his cars there so I suspect the dirt will have to be removed. I finally talked him into getting rid of the awful thing :) Anyone else dealt with this kind of problem?
The front is easier except for the ficus vine that's almost impossible to get rid of. I would love to get rid of it and put something nice along the walls like some type of hedge.
Shell
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I just bought a house four months ago and there was large amount of rocks.. A LARGE pile I should say.
We took the rocks and put them into large plastic containers. Then by boyfriend dug a very large hole taller than he is (6 feet). The top soil had tons of rocks in it as well. We pulled out good dirt, dumped the rocks in and poured the good dirt over it. The task took about 3 weeks of daily labor..however it's been 2 months and the grass is gorgeaous.
I have befor and after pics if your interested.
Though labor intensive I say dig a hole bury what you don't want and cover it back up.
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Our dirt is black clay gumbo, kind of like digging almost dry cement. There's been a lot of sand put in and lots of leaf mold and grass clippings decomposed into the topsoil. We will probably have to rent a small bulldozer and just grade everything to fix the drainage and a tiller to plant anything properly.
I'm always interestd in pictures of peoples gardens and yards :)
Shell

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