Join Date: May 2003
Location: Helena Mt., USA
You can get some great, locale-specific tips from your local county extension office. They have oodles of printed information available and sometimes will make site-visits.
I have 2.3 acres and we have a very, very dry climate so I've had to "micro-climate" plan, moving out from the house as I go. Most of our place is "wild" with native grass, trees and shrubs, but I've planned smaller "pods" of space, if you will, so that I can A) manage the changes to make sure that the first more fragile seasons work and B) don't make so many changes, that I change my mind about what I'm doing.
So I guess my best advice is to sit down and make a sketch of your place and existing features, including water source sites, septic and well if applicable, trees, house, garage, driveway, any utility easements, water/power/etc. lines if you know them and then plan from there how you think you want to do things.
You should be able to rent most types of equipment--especially those that you won't use a lot, like a roto-tiller etc.
With dogs, I'd create a blocked off area for either them or the section "under construction" so that it has a chance to take hold.
Drip irrigation works fabulously for trees and shrubs, but I'd agree that you may want to have a sprinkler system installed.
For questions on when you should seed, and what species (grass,shrubs and trees) you should contact County Extension or a couple of local and well-respected nurseries.
Chris, mom to:
Tank (Cardigan Welsh Corgi)
Odin (GSD 8/28/13)
Valentine-our ragdoll cat
Two great skin kids