Although this looks a bit like a scene depicting the Dust Bowl, unfortunately it's a scene depicting a problem area in my back yard.
The main cause of this hard-scrabble landscape is a humongous tree that dominates the back yard, from its bumpy roots underfoot to a canopy of leaves that virtually obliterates the sky overhead. It's impossible to get a photograph that captures its size, so I'll leave that to your imagination. Suffice it to say that removal of the tree is high on the list of big-ticket outdoor improvement projects. Once the yard gets some healthy sunlight, the next step will be to put in garden beds and grass up the bare patches. The monster tree -- and the shade it creates -- is the reason why all the gardens (thus far) are on the front and sides of the house!