By Mary-Liz Campbell
Curb appeal isn’t just important when you’re getting ready to sell your home. Having a well maintained, attractive front yard that accents your house and gives you — and your neighbors and friends — pleasure is a worthy goal for any homeowner.
Look at your house the way a visitor would. Step outside to the street and view it from various angles. Is it clear how visitors would get from the street to your house? You want to lead them to the front door, after all.
Obscured entranceways, steep steps, and narrow walks in poor repair often need attention. Walks do not have to be a straight line from the driveway or the street to the front door. A landscape design and remodel will improve your home’s curb appeal. Sometimes a curved walk can be more interesting. It can be softened by plantings. If visitors have to make their way past parked cars on the driveway, consider pulling the walk out away farther from the house. Front walks should be wide enough for two people to walk side by side. The material of the walk should reflect the style and setting of the house. It could be flagstone, brick, or pavers. If the walkway is made of asphalt, contact an asphalt repair contractor to repair any cracks or even redo the whole walkway. Asphalt driveways can be softened and tidied up with an edging of Belgium block. Soft landscape lighting will make the walk visible to visitors at night and also contribute to safety. You may also check the condition of your home’s roofing as it is one of the first things people will notice. Hire professional residential or commercial roofing contractors to conduct the necessary roof repairs.
What is the architecture of the house? Do the front plantings enhance it? If the style of the house is more formal, it may call for plantings with more structure. Looser plantings would enhance a cottage style of house.
Consider how plantings look in all seasons. Use flowering shrubs such as hydrangeas and spirea for spring, summer, and fall interest. Select evergreens such as boxwood, hollies, yews, and rhododendrons to give year-round structure and to enhance your house in the winter.
You can establish a link between the house and the landscape by choosing the colors or foliage of plants to harmonize with the color of the house. Be careful when choosing that cute little tree at the garden center and planting it too close to the house. Plants grow and that tree could be towering over your house before you know it.
Are overgrown shrubs flopping over the walks, blocking the view from the street or keeping light from streaming into windows? Are shrubs too crowded? Have they become too leggy? Perhaps some judicious pruning would help. Pruning old evergreens may cause dead wood to be exposed and they may not grow back. Consider replacing them.
What about the front lawn? Great swaths of green lawn require lots of water. The copious amounts of fertilizers and pesticides used to maintain lawns ultimately end up in our water systems. Huge power mowers belch smoke and fumes and contribute to air and noise pollution. Consider reducing the lawn area. Plant a tree. Add some shrubs. This will encourage biodiversity, reduce storm water run off, and prevent soil erosion. It will also contribute to the overall attractiveness and value of your property.
Containers by the front entrance of the house can add pizzazz. One or two large containers work better than a jumble of small containers. Plant some colorful annual flowers or even tropical plants in the summer, mums in the fall, and evergreens in the winter. Don’t forget to water them!
Of course, the major element in increasing curb appeal is maintaining your property. Trees blocking the view of your house should be limbed up. Shrubs should be pruned regularly to keep them tidy and within bounds. Shredded hardwood mulch on planting beds adds the finishing touch. Mulch discourages weeds and reduces watering needs as well.
With spring, the landscape gets more appealing every day.