Forget Ed McMann. I got into vegetable gardening in order to eat cheap (used to start everything by seed in January). I even used to harvest seed heads from annuals growing in other people's yards -- marigolds, zinnias, hollyhocks. For years didn't spend a dime on plants. I've dug up daffodils, lily of the valley, peonies and daylilies in construction sites, where they were going to tear down houses, and transplanted them to my yard.
The good thing about hostas and daylilies is that they're so prolific that you may be able to locate people in your area who'd be willing to share their divisions with you. People are generally proud of their own plant selections, and you have to divide perennials sooner or later. Maybe in exchange for help weeding or something. You can find enough varieties of daylilies that you could have them blooming all season (though I don't know what that means in Alabama). And they can do sun and shade. Hostas are wonderful too, though of course they usually prefer shade except for the Sum and Substance (a gigantic yellow leaved one) and the Plantiginea (with a fragrant, white flower that's good as a cut).
Look at your yard and imagine a shape for your garden. maybe the back is straight against the fence. But think of a few curves in the front. Do you have grass that you plan to keep? Don't make the curves too complicated. Sometimes people take a garden hose and move it around until they find a pleasing line.
You'll generally want to put the tallest things in back, and the shortest in the front -- that makes sense, right? Dianthus are great in front (miniture carnation like plants). their leaves are gray green and would contrast well with the daylilies (i.e., hemerocallis).
Okay, so along with the hostas and the daylilies, you need something evergreen. Down by you, maybe the dianthus leaves will last all winter. You'd have to ask at a good garden center. Also you ought to add some sort of "skeleton" like a few shrubs. Sometimes you'll find shrubs that are even shorter than the perennials. For instance, I have a lilac that's only about a foot tall! In the sun, (though they can also stand some shade) we like to use spirea "little princess" because it blooms a long time. And lacecap hydrangeas which are lovely. In a sunny spot, you could use a creeping juniper, like a "shore juniper."
When you're thinking of what to put with the daylilies, think about their leaf shape -- what would look good against those spade like leaves? How about peonies? They have a wonderful sculptural shape. If you have enough space, use clumps of 2 or 3, though 1 can look nice too.
And hostas themselves have so many different shapes and colors, but generally they have those big sort of round leaves. Think of leaf shapes that contrast with that -- we use carex, which is a sedge (grassy and spiky). Remember that the leaves last longer than the flowers, so generally you design with the leaves in mind.
If you have stones in your yard, then think about making a patio out of them. sometimes you can go to quarries and get free stones that are irregularly shaped. I made a path out of round river stones alternated with little flat stones, like a mosaic. It was free, but it's tough to weed sometimes.
Oh, and the clematis -- of course there are all kinds of those too, that bloom in spring and fall. You can make a simple pergola out of two by twos and two by sixes. I copied a Chinese design, very simple, and built a trellis and a pergola with that design. I have autumn clematis covering the pergola (the pergola is a trellis that you can walk through) and grapes. Right now on the trellis I have a honeysuckle.
I'm just rhapsodizing now, dreaming of spring...