One reward of overhauling other people's properties for a living is experience that you can put to use on your own place—eventually. For eight years, Vincent Ocampo worked as the contractor half of a design-build team in Southern California with garden designer Nicole Lopez. He loved how their work blurred the boundaries between indoors and out.
Using no-fuss materials and water-thrifty plantings, he gave his own small urban lot plenty of visual punch and practical outdoor living space while minimizing upkeep.
See the five key ideas he put to work—and you can too.