Whether you’re looking to make changes to your home to make it a more enjoyable place to live or you want to make it more attractive for resale, there’s a lot you can do to add curb appeal without breaking the bank.
Curb appeal definition
Curb appeal refers to how attractive someone finds a property when viewing it from the street. In its simplest form, curb appeal is a subjective appreciation for a physical asset: “I like how this place looks.” Maximizing your property’s attributes and minimizing its problems to create a beautiful street-side view doesn't have to be difficult, daunting, or expensive. And there can be some amazing payoffs, like increasing the value of your home -- according to the National Association of Realtors, houses with high curb appeal usually sell for an average of 7% more than similar homes without the same landscaping.
How to improve curb appeal
Nothing improves the beauty of a yard and the curb appeal of a home more than the right plantings. Color, texture, size, and shape combine to create a unique and attractive environment that adds value as well as beauty to your property.
Unfortunately, many homes suffer from less-than-stellar plantings as the result of neglect, disinterest, and just plain old lack of imagination. You can spot some of these homes from a mile away by their plop-and-drop, contractor-special shrubs scattered around the house in cookie-cutter beds. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Plantings are an excellent way to create an environment and experience for the people who engage with it. For example, you may want to create a soft and lush pathway along a front sidewalk that welcomes friends and family to your home and invites them in. If you have a particular plant color you like – say, burgundy leaves or blooms -- select plants to complement that color scheme and plant them in key spots to attract the eye and lead your visitors visually into your property.
While plantings are a key factor in boosting a home’s curb appeal, they’re not the only one. Your home’s attractive appeal is created by what I call the “Four P’s”:
PathwayNothing says “Welcome, come on in!” like an attractive and inviting pathway to your front door. A casual, curvy walkway of natural stone or unique pavers is a warm way to usher someone in, while a more formal and classic walkway with traditional brick or antique-looking cobbles creates a more striking, dramatic entrance. Casual or classic, you can make either approach softer and more welcoming with colorful and fragrant plants that engage all the senses.
PrivacyStrategic plantings can add both curb appeal to your home as well as some sense of privacy. Start with some anchor plants if you don’t have any already. If your house is large, it will feel barren without an appropriate anchor. Use large trees like the native sugar maple or a large flowering native tree such as a Carolina Silverbell. These trees grow naturally and will help frame your house while being relatively easy to maintain. They will also provide shade to keep your house cool in the summer months. Don’t go overboard – remember, these trees will grow large so don’t crowd them or clutter up your front lawn with too many.
Complement your anchor plants with smaller evergreen and deciduous shrubs and trees that work well with perennials as foundation plantings. Choosing the right plants will give your garden layers and vibrant color. Pick out plants of different heights and textures. Keep in mind their bloom times and colors, choosing ones that complement each other year-round, adding eye-catching appeal from the curb as well as from your house.
PruningOne frequently overlooked trick for making a home more attractive is pruning. It’s surprising how some many homeowners neglect their plants and allow them to grow shaggy, unkempt, and even overwhelming. Proper pruning can add shape, definition, and proper proportion to plants, making them fit more aesthetically in your landscaping. Pruning the plants properly makes any landscape – no matter how simple or sophisticated -- neater, more orderly-looking, and pleasing to the eye. Every home can benefit from pruning.
PaintA fresh coat of paint added to strategic elements of your house, such as the front door, shutters (if you have them), architectural features –even the entire house – will add significant appeal and make your home look newer and fresher. A little paint can go a long way.
Curb appeal landscaping ideas
It’s surprising how much you can do to boost your home’s curb appeal with very little time, effort, or money. Here are several ideas you can put to work in just a weekend:
Dress up walkways and doorways with potted plants
Adding just a few potted plants can make a huge difference. For a classic and affordable design that always looks great, place two identical pots on either side of the front door. A single flower box with an interesting mix of colors, textures, and heights of plants will also do the trick. Choose plants that are low maintenance and easy to prune like evergreens or boxwoods.
Add flower beds and borders
Consider lining the pathway to the front door with new flowers or planting a flower border along the front of your home’s exterior. For a modern and clean look, choose one type of flower in just one or two colors. If you’re going for more of an English garden style, add many different variations and colors, and pack the flowers in closely.
Create nighttime appeal with outdoor lighting
Solar light fixtures make a simple and inexpensive project that can add a lot of “wow.” Solar outdoor lights charge in the sunlight, so no wiring is needed. Simply place the staked fixtures along a pathway or in flower beds. When the sun goes down, your yard will light up with a charming glow. Pro tip: many homeowners overdo it with the solar lights, using far too many for the space they’re lighting. Don’t make your walkway look like a runway. Space your lights out and use them, where possible, to accent a feature or element of your landscape. You’ll be surprise how much more dramatic and sophisticated your landscaping will look when it doesn’t look like you‘re trying to land aircraft.
Add border edging
Border edging comes in a variety of materials and designs to complement just about any architectural style and landscape. Line flower and shrub beds with edging material to keep them looking attractive and tidy while prevent grass from invading your beds.
These are just a couple of landscaping improvement ideas that can help make your property more attractive to your neighbors as well as prospective buyers. If you have the time and interest to tackle improvements on your own, there are numerous things you can do to add beauty and value.
If your property needs more help, or if you have more ambitious ideas in mind, partner with a landscaping company you respect and trust. Get recommendations from family and friends. Use the web to scope out prospective landscapers, view some of their projects, and read their reviews. A little homework will help you make the right decision and boost your home’s curb appeal successfully and cost-efficiently.
Download our Landscape Design eBook for more ideas and information on transforming your landscape.