I get the sense that you are less interested in gardening and more interested in the spaces part of your backyard. As a more architecty landscape architect, I would suggest you look into books that talk more about outdoor living. Just as if you were building a house, first you layout the rooms and then you pick out the finishes and materials to decorate, you approach your garden the same way. Figure out the program (activities that you want to accommodate in the outdoors). Next figure out the space and type of infrastructure required to make that type of room. Dining - a large patio, reading - a shaded nook. The difficulty/challenge with doing this outdoor architecture is the climate variable - so you need to also consider the sun/wind/precipitation and seasons.
While it might seem very un-mustachian, consulting an experienced person with some expertise may be worth it for you. I can give a lot of advice in a two hour consult and save a person a lot of money on judicious use of space and materials to make really livable outdoor rooms. If you have a really defined program, a whole bunch of photos from pinterest or print media that focus on the type of space you want to create and a firm budget, I am sure you can get a quick sketch plan on the spot that will make the best use of your space for not a huge fee.
I have saved many friends, family and some complete strangers from making bad landscape decisions and not charged a fortune. I would suggest an older practitioner would be more practical than a recent grad, not to be ageist, but I am way wiser than I was at 24. I also know how things wear better. I am always happy to make a quick cash deal on a consult that doesn't involve a whole lot of drawing, measuring, contracts and free advice. I also am not too interested in helping pick a few plants to beautify a really stupidly laid out patio - no matter how fancy the stone pavers are.
You can DIY a phenomenal back yard if you have a really good design. You can get away with really cheap materials if the spaces are really functional and comfortable. Plants grow well if they are the right types of plants that have the soil volume and moisture requirement met.