Below is a kind of map of the Major scale as broken down by 'Mode box.' The major scale has 7 notes and each note has it's own 'mode.' The 'mode box' is a vertical layout of the mode's scale when the mode's root falls on the 6th string. So the 'Ionian box' is the major scale starting on the 6th string.
Now I'll tell a story. The protagonist wakes up in his house, the Ionian box. He goes out back and gets his dog from the backyard. The dog lives in the Aeolian mode. From there he goes round to the front yard and gets in his car. The car is parked in the Dorian box. Then he drives to his girl's house, which is the Mixolydian mode. They go out back and go for a swim in her frigid Phrygian box. The guy says it's too damn cold and decides he's gonna split. So he goes around front to the Aeloian box and gets in his car sitting in the gal's front yard. He drives back to his driveway, the Dorian box, then he remembers he forgot his dog. It's back to the Mixolydian box at the girl's house. Finally he drives back back to his pad.
What's the point of the story? Well if you go by the numbers of each mode, the story is a I-VI-II-V-III-VI-II-V-I progression.
Now when I learn the concept of back yard and front yard from the blues player, I'm pretty sure he was telling be the Dorian is the house and the Ionian is the backyard. In reality, every mode box has a front and back yard. The back yard has the mode's arpeggio going back to the root on the third string, whereas the front has the arpeggio with roots on the 4th and 2nd strings. You should know how to navigate the front and back yard of any mode which is why I think this guitarist brought it to my attention. He saw I was never really going out the back door.
I don't know how much this visualization will help anyone, but I've always thought about these landmarks. What about the Lydian and Locrian modes? Well -- aside from the fact they are kind of visually squished in with other demarcations, I see the IV as kind of moving to an adjacent key on the Circle of Fourths -- maybe the Lydian is the next town over. As for the VII -- that is usually just the 'ii' of the VI. If you are two-fiving to the VI, that is like a secondary dominant, again -- another key. I would say the VI is the bar en route to the lady's front yard, or the dog-house out back.