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 plenty of options for adding curb appeal.
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 or daunting. 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 percent more than similar homes without the same landscaping.
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 and mulch 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”:
Strategic plantings can add both curb appeal to your home as well as some sense of privacy for you to better enjoy your outdoor living spaces. 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.
One 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.
A fresh coat of paint added to strategic elements of your house, such as the front door, front porch, shutters (if you have them), architectural features, or even the entire house — will add significant appeal and make your home look newer and fresher. A little paint can go a long way.
It’s surprising how much you can do to boost curb appeal with very little time, effort, or money. Here are several ideas you can put to work in just a weekend:
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.
Consider lining the pathway to the front door with new annual 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.
Adding hardscape to your outdoor spaces is a great way to improve your home’s “wow” factor. Walkways leading to an attractive entryway or features like a fire pit built into your landscaping can significantly improve your home’s curb appeal while offering greater accessibility and your opportunities for enjoyment.
Landscape lighting such as 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 surprised how much more dramatic and sophisticated your landscaping will look when it doesn’t look like you‘re trying to land aircraft.
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 preventing grass from invading your garden 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 and social media to scope out prospective landscapers, view some of their landscaping 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.
To learn more about how a landscape designer can help you improve your home's curb appeal and value, download our free ebook, Personalized Landscape Design: Why You Should Leave It to the Professionals.