While tearing down interior walls, reconfiguring the layout of your home, or buying new kitchen cabinets and appliances can be a lot of fun, these kinds of renovation projects inevitably cost thousands and thousands of dollars – and almost always require calling in professional contractors to handle the heavy lifting for you.
Even worse is the fact that many of these popular interior remodeling projects aren’t going to add all that much extra value to your property. In fact, some of these projects statistically not only add next to no value to your home when it comes time to sell – they actually cause you to lose money!
A better investment (your time and your money) is to dress up your front yard landscaping. By maximizing your curb appeal you improve the very first thing any prospective home buyer is going to notice, and you also turn an otherwise ho-hum property into something really special.
To help you figure out a couple of DIY and budget friendly curb appeal projects we’ve put together this quick guide.
1. Dress Up Your Front Door
Maybe the easiest front yard/curb appeal upgrade you could decide to tackle on your own is upgrading, painting, or otherwise improving your front door.
A relatively low cost way to completely change the way your home looks the moment people see it from the curb, you could do something as simple as paint your door and eye-catching color (fire engine/candy apple red is always a big favorite) or something more dramatic like changing out a basic door for one made entirely out of hardwoods with sidelights and fancy carving.
If you’re looking to make your door really pop you want to focus on creating contrast between the door and the rest of your home.
House numbers, door treatments, unique trim elements, and potted plants can all add a bit of visual flair to your front door as well and aren’t going to break your bank account, either.
2. Focus On Your Greenery
The next best thing you can do to improve the overall look and feel of your property from the curb is to focus on your greenery, improving your lawn, adding some small plants or flowers, and keeping everything nice and neat.
Adding a bit of extra grass seed in the early spring will payoff significant dividends by the time summer rolls around, filling in any weak spots, any patches, and helping your lawn to look thick and lush. Keep things neatly mowed (low but not low enough to kill your grass) and edged in your home will look like it belongs in a magazine.
If you really want to make sure that your property looks exceptional for an open house for a showing to potential buyers you can invest in a “Green Lawn Spray” product. This is basically a paint formulated specifically for grass, non-toxic and environmentally safe, that helps your lawn look picture-perfect even if it’s a little less than perfect at the roots.
3. Add Splashes of Color
You don’t necessarily want to go overboard when it comes to planting flowers out front, but you don’t want your home to be nothing but a sea of grass, either.
Too many flowers will tell prospective buyers that they are going to have to spend a lot of time out front keeping everything looking fantastic. Too few flowers will send prospective buyers the wrong signal, too, and your home’s value will suffer because of it.
Annual flowers are inexpensive, especially the type that can be purchased in flats of between 12 and 48 flowers at local garden or home improvement stores. These kinds of flowers grow quickly, cost next to nothing, and remain in bloom a lot longer than more exotic flowers – and most of them are a lot hardier, as well. That’s especially important if your green thumb is a little out of practice!
4. Power Wash Your Property
A gentle spray down with a garden hose a couple of hours before people visit is an easy way to get your home looking nice, neat, and clean from the curb. But if you want to make sure that your home is sparkling – free of dust, dirt, and debris that can build up and leave and almost imperceptible film on your home that home buyers just “feel” rather than notice consciously – you want to break out the power washer.
These kinds of tools can be rented from most home improvement stores or hardware stores, but you want to make sure you get a crash course in operation before you fire it up. It’s possible to blow the siding right off your home if the pressure is dialed up too high. That’s obviously the last thing you want to do before a showing!
Pressure washing your property at the end of spring and autumn is a good idea as a general rule anyway. It gives everything a nice, neat, and clean kind of look that you wouldn’t have had otherwise.
5. Help Make Your Windows Really Shine
No, we aren’t talking about cleaning your windows (though this is obviously a big piece of the puzzle and should be done regularly) when we talk about making your glass really shine.
We are talking about dressing up your windows by adding shutters, by adding window boxes and planters, and by adding unique trim elements that help them stand out a bit more from other windows on your block.
A little bit of touch up paint, a little bit of stain, and a little bit of elbow grease can breathe new life into exterior trim elements faster than he would have thought possible. The difference may not be noticeable when you are up close and personal improving your windows, but the second you step back and see everything in its entirety you’ll notice the transformation immediately.
So will potential home buyers.
6. Exterior Lighting Is a Big Piece of the Puzzle
If you really want to take your curb appeal to the next level without having to spend a lot of money you’ll want to focus on exterior lighting near the top of your list.
First, you want to remove any of the builder grade or outdated light fixtures and lighting elements that might be dotted around your home. These kinds of fixtures are about as run-of-the-mill as they get, are cheap and functional, but aren’t going to add any visual interest whatsoever.
Worse, they might make your home look pretty cheap!
The next thing you want to do is invest in quality lighting fixtures, LED lights wherever you can upgrade, and more “landscape lights”. This kind of lighting not only adds a lot of functionality to your property but also improves the aesthetics and the mood while at the same time opens up a lot of extra usable space outside when the sun goes down that wouldn’t have existed otherwise.
7. Cutback Trees and Bushes
This is probably the most labor-intensive of all the tips we share in this quick guide but it’s also one of the most valuable and has the potential to change the way your entire property looks almost overnight.
All the curb appeal tips and tricks in the world aren’t going to amount to much of anything if people can’t see your hard work from the street.
Cutback and remove overhanging tree branches, trees that are dead or dying, and shrubs that aren’t adding anything your property. Trim things up, keep them neat and orderly, and give your property a much more controlled look and you are sure to dramatically boost the value of your home while increasing the enjoyment you get out of it while you still live there.
This kind of work can be tackled with nothing more than some landscaping shears and a pair of hedge clippers. Obviously, if you’re going to be cutting larger limbs or removing entire trees you’ll probably want to bring in the experts to handle that for you – but for the most part this is something you can knock out all on your own.
At the end of the day, all of the tips and tricks we shared above will help you dramatically improve the aesthetics of your front yard landscaping.
These are the kinds of tips and tricks that you can implement all on your own this afternoon or this weekend, the kinds of tips and tricks that aren’t going to break your bank account or blow up your budget but will have a huge impact on how your home looks and feels.
None of them require special tools or special knowledge. None of them require you having to drop a mountain of cash on contractors or craftsmen, either. They will require you to spend a little bit of sweat equity investing in your property but the payoffs are significant.
Take advantage of the inside information above and you’ll find that you are able to beautify your home for a lot less money than you would have thought possible – all while improving the way it looks a lot faster than you probably thought you could, too.
Roll up your sleeves and dig in!