Let’s admit it, first impressions leave a lasting impression, and I’m not talking about your looks- I’m talking about what your property looks like. What people see when they drive by your home is the first way you can grab their attention- and even if you aren’t in the market to sell, providing curbside appeal is a great way to keep your place looking memorable.
Owning property requires regular maintenance and upkeep, and the attention you pay to your yard and home reflects a bit about who you are as well. It helps guide your visitors towards what they might expect indoors, and also adds to your property value. The following article explains ways to add curb appeal to your home, and get it in tip-top shape for your own personal enjoyment, or for market value.
Why Add Curb Appeal?
As mentioned, the outside of your home helps reflect the inside, making it a great way to showcase your own eclectic decorating ideas. But it is so much more important that just showcasing what you like and providing a lasting impression on anyone who passes by; curb appeal increases the value of a home, and even if you are not planning on selling, allows you to add to your overall price point. If you situation ever changes, the home that stands out a bit from the rest in the area is going to garner more attention, and is more likely to get your asking price than a home that looks just like any other.
What To Pay Attention To
Even if you are on a budget (FYI- budget friendly ideas below) you need to determine what types of additions your landscaping and home needs to make it more appealing. It is very easy to miss what potential your home has when you see it everyday, so consider the following before deciding on where to start with your improvement.
Get online and look over landscaping that you enjoy to see. Consider the ideas people have applied to their homes and yards and shared and make a list of what you feel applies to your own property.
Pretend You Are a Buyer
Look over other properties and decide what you like and don’t like upon first glance. Apply this same mentality to your own. Consider, if you were buying your home, what would you like to see different?
Be Sure to Check the Skyline (and Roofline)
Look up and over the house for tree lines and roofline. Check for hanging branches, dead materials, and the proximity to your home. Also make sure your own roof looks good and doesn’t have any loose shingles. You’ll want to remove any vegetation that could be a hazard and trim trees that may cause problems in the future.
Look Over Driveways and Walkways
These are meant to be used, and used heavily- meaning they show wear and cracks over time. If you notice any problems occuring take note to watch for worsening conditions. If things are already crumbling then you may want to look into replacement. For sidewalks and such be sure to talk to your city as sometimes the maintenance of those fall under their jurisdiction despite being in front of your house.
The First Step: Tools for General Maintenance
Whether you have a nice landscape already and are looking to add to it, or are redoing your entire yard, you do need to keep handy some specific tools. These will allow you to more effortlessly keep your yard looking clean and free from debris through the season, and allow you to touch up any garden beds and vegetation you may have planted with minimal effort. This is your first step in maintaining curb appeal.
- Have a lawnmower, string trimmer, leaf blower, and snowblower handy when applicable. These are basics that provide the very simplest of property maintenance under control. A well trimmed lawn free from leaves allows the casual observer to see property lines, walkways, and any other features you may have clearly. Keeping drives and walkways clear of snow in the winter also allows boundaries to be more clearly seen, and provides an aesthetically pleasing organization when the rest of your landscape is buried under snow.
- Pruning/Lopping Shears, Shovel, Rake, and Wheelbarrows allow you to take care of the details of your vegetation. Trim up unruly branches from small bushes and trees, shape boxwoods, rake out weeds and other debris from under bushes and from in garden beds, and dig out any dead materials. Having a wheelbarrow saves you from having to carry material and also is a great way to spread mulch to help keep weeds down and moisture in your water beds up.
- A good hose and spreader are also well worth having, even if you have a good watering system. A hose allows you to hand water and also use plants in pots and hanging options for added appeal during the growing season. A spreader is perfect for ground control to feed, help eradicate bugs, or kill weeds when needed.
Budget Ideas to Boost Appeal
If you figure your yard looks good enough and you simply don’t have the budget to do anything special other than general maintenance, consider the following budget friendly options. These provide instant curbside appeal on their own without having to spend a lot of time or money on the endeavor. Sometimes even the smallest change can create an entirely new visual perspective.
Paint the Front Door
Even if your house is due a good coat of paint, if it isn’t on the budget to paint the whole thing, consider painting just the front door. Use an unexpected color that works well with your overall color scheme to draw attention to it and make it a focal point.
Add Porch Curtains
Have a porch? Some cheap lengths of material bound at the corners of your porch provide an unexpected elegance and softens the straight lines of the architecture. You can easily hang a curtain rod from which to drape these and tie back which can be taken down for material replacement or seasonal changes.
Upgrade the Mailbox
If your mailbox is a prominent feature at the end of your driveway, consider replacing it with an option that is more elegant or attention seeking. Brick it into a more permanent space that you can grow annual flowering vines over, surrounding it with a succulent rock garden, or find something artist, colorful, and whimsy.
Add a Wreath and/or Box Planters
A simple wreath on the front door paired with a few potted plants on either side of a walkway, porch, or door adds a nice touch. You can even find wonderful faux plants for this purpose that can be changed seasonally or simply left alone without worry of watering and pruning. Watch for great deals at season ends in both garden centers and craft stores for both vegetation (alive and plastic) and planters.
Install House Numbers
Get creative with how you showcase your house numbers. Upcycle an old pallet board, use decorative tiles, or create your own and place them in a viewable area along a fence, by your mailbox, or along a porch column. Make them large and noticeable as well!
Make Your Own Shutters and Add Window Planters
Shutters used to be used to block sun and weather but are more aesthetic in some areas due to the window coverings that now exist. Because of this they aren’t seen very often, but you can easily add your own DIY shutters using sanded and stained pallet boards. Get creative and connect them with a strip of iron for added contrast. Place them next to larger windows rather than all the windows, and add a window planter if you want as well!
Plant One Tree
If you love the idea of a garden, but can’t afford to put in garden beds, consider planting just one decorative tree. Once established they only require some basic pruning once a year and a blooming, green tree will provided added appeal every time. Check your garden center for sales at the end of the growing season and don’t put the tree in the ground until it is completely dormant.
Consider Exterior Lighting
Your home isn’t just seen during the day. Consider some inexpensive solar lighting to highlight the house’s best features, gardens, or landscape. Or simply add an interesting lighting option to your porch area.
Further Tips to Improve Curb Appeal
Even though keeping up with general maintenance and adding a few simple changes can make a great change, if you have the time and money consider some of the following investments. These can be done bit by bit, all at once, and even hired out for completion if you aren’t feeling up to the task. But all are things that are commonly remarked upon by potential buyers. And as said before, even if you are not in the market to sell, it never hurts to improve the quality of the view.
Pressure Wash Walkways, Decking, and Sides of Home
If possible, you should pressure wash your siding, walkways, and decking at least once a year. Because mildew and dust buildup is gradual, it may not be noticeable to you that there is a layer of grime over all these things building up through the year.
Cluster Planters Amongst the Garden Beds, Porch, and Walkways
Even if you have garden beds, planters of various sizes placed in areas where they are noticeable are a great way to add texture, height, and pops of color to your landscape. They also serve as excellent seasonal features and can hold decorations or be changed out through the year.
Replace the Walkway and Add to Driveway
Lay down a brick walkway leading up to your house and add to your driveway to create a decorative, texturized touch. Circular patterns can also be inlaid into driveways if you don’t want to replace the whole thing, or you can line the sides for a more subtle touch.
Paint the House
Most homes need to be painted every 5 to 10 years depending on where you live. You’ll know it’s time when you start to see paint flake off your trim. Take the time to find a reputable house painter and update the look.
Add/Replace the Fence
A fence of some type always adds to the property. Low wrought-iron fences, tall wooden fences, decorative lattice tops… they all can be incorporated into your landscape for decoration or privacy. If you have an old tired looking fence, consider how you mist replace it.
Add to Your Porch Space
Have a porch but it isn’t conducive to sitting in due to space? Think about how you might expand this space to incorporate a sitting area. A screen like half fence, an arbor, a small patio addition, or even a decking addition might all be ideas to consider.
Add a Porch Sitting Area
Have a porch but nowhere to sit? Even if the space is small add in an area in which a person can relax and set down a cool drink. Consider using a hanging bench or small hammock chair that can be removed easily when needed as well as outdoor furniture that you can utilize all year round.
Consider Outdoor Art or a Water Feature
Artistic features provide a pop of the unexpected and is generally visible year round. Small water features and outdoor art are popular ways to showcase your own style and add to your property aesthetics.
Upgrade the Garage Doors
Most garages are visible from the road and if your doors have taken a beating then it might be time to get some new ones rehung. With time you might see gaps in the framing around the doors, dents and dings, discolorations, etc…
Lay Down New Mulch
A layer of new mulch brings new life to garden beds. Mulch breaks down over time and fades out, lasting only a few years before it isn’t the positive addition you want it to be. Gently rake the old mulch into the ground to allow it to break down and help hold moisture and then place a new layer over the top of it to help freshen up the garden.
Truly, all of what is described above is paying attention to the details of your home and yard. Keep your weekly maintenance measures up to par with mowing and trimming, and slowly begin to replace and add what you feel you need to get the look you desire. By doing some homework in advance you can easily see what is problematic and needs your attention.
Remember also that you don’t have to go big to get started. Some simple budget friendly changes can help improve things immensely until you care better address other details. If you have any favorite ways to add curb appeal, let us know below, and, as always, please share!