Easy Curb Appeal

By Cynthia Bee, Conservation Garden Park

Curb appeal is one of those things that can be hard to describe but you know it when you see it. Some homes achieve this through beautiful architecture—and then there’s the rest of us. The reality is that most of us live in tract homes where the most dominant feature is the garage. Thankfully there are plenty of low- to no-cost ways to improve the curb appeal of your home.

Emphasize the Entry. Whenever a visitor comes to your home for the first time, the first thing they’ll look for is the front door. If the front door is bland, a coat of paint in a fun color or even just a decorative wreath will dramatically increase the wow factor of your home. Flanking the door with large planters can further draw attention to the entry.

Walk This Way. Creating a path to the front door that’s separate from the driveway is a great way to improve the friendly factor of your home. Filling the space between the path and the driveway with low-growing shrubs and perennials will deemphasize cars, putting more focus on the yard and home. The front door may be the first thing people notice, but the walk to the door is how they experience the space.

Define the Lawn. Bold shapes visually organize the yard. Use fewer but larger planting beds and avoid landscape islands in the lawn. Narrow bits and pieces of lawn are hard to maintain, serve no recreational purpose, and detract from the visual quality of the space. Instead, create a central open shape of lawn (or other materials such as groundcover, gravel or hardscape) and surround it with perimeter plantings.

Friendly Face. One of the best ways to use the landscape to compensate for lackluster architecture is to add front yard seating—and creating a seating area can be a weekend project. Best of all, once installed, it provides a way to enjoy the front yard while removing some space from active maintenance.

Delete Detail. Your home is most frequently viewed at 25 miles per hour (or more), so plan the view of the property accordingly. Detailed groupings of plants or decorative objects are best saved for the back yard where they’ll be viewed up close. Use shrubs with colorful foliage and large flowered perennials in the front yard to grab attention.

Maintenance Matters. There is no substitute for good maintenance. However, there are ways to cheat the system! Select shrubs carefully and plan the size of the planting bed to fit the size of the plants you’re using. Most homeowners create planters that are too narrow because they fear having to weed too frequently and instead end up with too much pruning. Fix this issue by making the beds wide enough to accommodate the plants. Use drip irrigation and a heavy coat of mulch (no weed barrier fabric). These work together to dramatically reduce the occurrence of weeds.

For more tips to help you improve your curb appeal, check out http://localscapes.com

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