Enormous lap pool
TIME: Two years
COST: About $6,000
"When we bought this house, the yard was overgrown with honey-suckle, ivy, and blackberries," writes Scott Terry of Oakland, California. "It had obviously been beautiful at one time but had been neglected for 10 years." Paths and retaining walls were crumbling; shrubs and trees were overgrown.
The biggest problem was an enormous lap pool (below ) at the bottom of the slope: Installed by the previous owner, the pool occupied the only spot on the property sunny enough for a vegetable garden. "We wanted it out," Terry says.
The first year, Terry and his partner, Todd Brower, hired an arborist to identify the trees on the property. Then they cleared out the ones that were ill or misplaced. They also repaired the retaining walls, paths, and sprinkler systems.