Posted: 27/12/2013 at 21:09
I'm in a similar situation - new house, overgrown garden, novice .... eeek!
Although it sounds like you have a LOT more to tackle than me - and with two little un's as well .... double eeek!
I cleared brambles first - put up fencing and renovated the rotten shed. It only cost a few quid to renovate (rather than replace) - so I highly recommend that. I also bought a second hand greenhouse.
However, it sounds like you and I want different things - eg I plan to remove my one of my lawns. And I guess everyone wants different things from their gardens, but I just wanted to say, I also set up a 'bug hotel' and started feeding the birds.
My garden is a work in progress (ie a mess) but it's a delight already because of the wildlife. I'm not just a novice gardener anymore, I'm also a novice twitcher!
And, I believe, if I look after them, they will look after me and help with pests, so it's win win.
Re your old orchard - why not leave that for now and see what comes in spring? You never know it could turn out to be a lovely wild flower meadow.
Good luck with it all.