front of house and garden with faux entrance after renovation
Photo: Patricia Lyons
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Street Side

At one point, I asked Walt to build me a stoop so I could start landscaping around it. He thought it was a distraction from the more important interior work that remained, but I needed a project that would feed my soul. Not that it was easy. For years, people had been chucking bottles at the empty house, and the soil was riddled with glass. But with lots of digging and some new soil, I finally got my gardens growing.

We had also dug a 2-foot-deep trench right down to the house's footings—in the Southern summer heat, mind you—for a gravel-filled French drain to prevent further water damage to the foundation. Working our way in, Walt spent a month redoing the rotted soffits and fascia boards.

Shown: The street-facing side of the house has a picket fence and a charming flower garden, complete with birdhouses.
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