Awuh thanks folks! These suggestions have been invaluable!
I started trimming back the dead branches of the cotonester-- I suspected it was cotonester, but again I'm new at this and didn't want to go guessing. I think I'm going to remove where its covering some of the ground area, keep parts of it at a floating cascade at about eye level and otherwise keep it as a backdrop. A couple of nosey honeybees eager for an early sip did come over for a look while I was trimming... though I'm new at this, I did read up on what's been going on with bees the past couple of years so I'm glad to give them whatever help they need! Plus anything to draw the birds from my fruit and veg in coming years is a plus.
I took up the buddleia that was growing in the pavement... yes it was woody! There are others in the garden that I can pull up and replant elsewhere.
The rest will go into containers for now while I dig up the grounds in the back. There's loads of overgrown roses too, I won't know that those look like until they flower-- and then some look like they may not flower this year because they weren't cut back. The house purchase was a legacy sale and there's a lot of disrepair on the house in general, plus this overgrown once very loved garden. I feel like I'm paying respect to the house and the former owner for carrying on with some of her beloved plants-- something I feel really good about. So while hubster is inside sorting contractors, replacing dryrot, bathrooms, kitchens, and redecorating, I'm getting the garden going.
And this is a very thrilling project. I've been chomping at the bit to get into serious gardening since 2010. But between moving and starting a family, I hadn't gotten around to it and now I get to live the dream a little! =) I used to be one of those 'two brown thumbs' types, but the house plants I got two years ago have survived so far, so I have a lot more confidence! (famous last words, right?)
The house came with a potting shed and a lot of tools I'll need. I cleaned out the potting shed yesterday-- just love it! We'll be putting in a modest greenhouse with some cold frames along the side. Dividing the grass in half-- half for veg, half for kids to play. And in all I want it to be a space of peace and utility. Its important to me for my kids to know where their food comes from as well. I'm really looking forward to it all.
And I guess I'm overwhelmed and happy with how friendly folks are here. Thank you for paying it forward and helping me... I hope I can do the same for others once I get some more experience under my belt and can talk knowledgeably about it!
Back garden before we got started...
Little house gnome we 'inherited'...
Potting shed after I got it cleaned up...