Posted: 23/02/2015 at 16:54
First - congratulations on your new home - Iovely area to live - know it well!
I agree with most of the others that the tree looks too large for the garden and needs to come out. Most well qualified tree surgeons will come out to do a site inspection, give you some free advice about roots etc and give you a quote for the work - the ones round here in Suffolk don't charge for that bit of their service.
I would also consider losing the lawn and having some well designed hard landscaping done close to the house if you can afford it. A mix of wood, brick, gravel and paving could give lots of interest, seating and perhaps a mix of levels. It doesn't have to be mega expensive and, if done well, will be a real investment! Shingle or gravel with weed suppressing membrane underneath is much cheaper than all paving & is a DIY job. It can be replaced with more expensive material later on if you prefer this. Strategically placed trellis, beds and borders would give privacy and shelter and a little careful, subtle lighting would add lots of atmosphere without annoying your neighbours.
I think you could have a very chic, urban, courtyard-style garden near the house with perhaps a slightly wilder more country style garden or potager at the far end.
I would suggest you start off with a pencil and paper and a scaled outline of the garden. Start to sketch in where you would like things to be and what you need to have in there (storage for bikes tools etc). Work out where the sun is when you are most likely to use the garden (usually afternoon and evening) so you can make sure you put your seating and sunbathing areas in the right places. If you like cooking you could have a raised bed with herbs in as they are expensive to buy in the supermarket. If you are really keen you could grow some of your own veg as well.
Visit local gardens for inspiration - especially smaller ones. The National Garden Scheme is an excellent starting point but lots of villages have an open garden day where maybe 20 or 30 'normal' sized gardens are open to wander round. I personally find visiting large gardens enjoyable - but less than helpful when it comes to design ideas for my own much smaller patch.
Most of all enjoy it and welcome to the world of gardening.