Furniture choices. You don''t want to leave a blank slate and furniture is necessary to start enjoying that outdoor space while you get the plantings worked out. Even the simplest of setups with a drink table and small chairs can create a space for lounging.
Plant it up. Try using planters set up around your perimiter. When using terra cotta pots the hand made variety is better, and thicker. The machine made versions are subject to cracking in the winter. fiberglass is a good option that lasts forever and has tons of color options.
Let there be light. If the yard doesn't have enough ambient light, then think about using uplighting. Try using low-voltage lighting in your planters. Set up of an entire system can be as simple as plugging into an existing outlet without needing an electrician.
"That rug really ties the room together, man." Big Lebowski reference aside, an outdoor rug can give an outdoor space the feeling of an interior space like a living or dining room and is an excellent way to break up the space.
Throwing shade. A simple umbrella can bring releif from the overhead sun and make your ouotdoor space more inviting. Look for umbrellas with vents in the canopy, or with a heavy base to keep them from blowing away. Add more sophistication to the space with a pergola or shade sail that are made to endure the sun and wind.