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6 Steps to Increase Your Home's Curb Appeal

6 Steps to Increase Your Home's Curb Appeal
March 2009
Gussying up your homefront doesn’t have to be an over-priced overhaul left to next season (or the next); Scott Parker of landscape architecture firm DesignWorks offers easy, can’t-miss tips for enlivening your exterior one step at a time

Organize the View: Before you set to adding a colorful pot here, a birdbath there, look at the bigger picture: “You want to create a sense of structure for the front of your home,” advises Parker. This might mean installing a low fence around the lawn’s perimeter, adding a pathway to the porch, or creating a seating area. “These elements give a place for the eye to rest and convey a clear sense of how the space is meant to be used.”

Tip: “In creating visual organization, a little yard work can go a long way. Prune greenery that’s grown into walkways, add mulch at the base of plantings, and define flower beds.”

Go Undercover: “When viewing a house from the street, the garage is often the least appealing thing to look at,” says Parker, who suggests using a trellis to soften the structure’s appearance. Fashion one around garage doors with brackets and cable, then add an evergreen vine, or pair a store-bought wooden version with climbing roses.

Tip: Use fast-growing shrubs like wax myrtle, privet, and ligustrum to hide eyesores like recycling storage.

Brighten Up: You knew we were going to say it, right? But we can’t emphasize enough the impact a crisp coat of paint can have on your home’s exterior. Ideally, you should repaint every three to five years—hiring professionals and using a premium paint from a manufacturer like Valspar or Olympic can help ensure a longer-lasting job.

Tip: Can’t decide on a color palette? “A color combination that is widely appealing is yellow with white trim,” says Parker.

Landscape Lightly: It’s common knowledge that plants are a good way to conceal the harsh angle where exterior walls meet the ground. “The problem is, people tend to go overboard with these ‘foundation gardens,’” says Parker. “The house ends up looking like it is floating on a cloud and has no relationship to the ground.” Instead, think less is more: “One tree in the right location could be better than three in different spots.” Tip: Grass is another habit worth breaking, notes Parker, who prefers trees, shrubs, and ground covers like ivy. “They are attractive and don’t require as much maintenance.”

Suit Yourself: At first blush, curb appeal seems to be about pleasing passersby. “But it’s more important to consider what you want to see when you pull into the drive,” says Parker. For inspiration, take a stroll through your favorite neighborhoods, noting which elements of a house’s façade call out to you. When bringing these ideas home, be sure to think about how you plan to use your outdoor space. “If you’ve got kids, leave a wide-open area for them to play,” he suggests. Like to entertain? Focus on creating a comfortable place to gather.

Make a Grand Entrance: “Your front door is one of the first things people notice, so make sure it’s welcoming,” says Parker. Brush on new paint, prune away overgrown plants, then flank the entrance with a pair of garden urns or topiaries. But you’re not finished yet: “A path leading to the door is a must.” To add one, choose a material that complements the style of your house. “Brick and bluestone are popular for traditional homes, while regular or tabby concrete works well with modern styles.”

Tip: Plants can add emphasis to an existing pathway or create one of their own. Try mondo grass for a come-as-you-will look or stick to formalities with a boxwood hedge.

Seeking Best In Show: Send us snapshots of the head-turning houses in your neighborhood. We’ll add them to our own collection and post the best of the best online. Call it a little shared inspiration!