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Most real estate agents say that it is location, location, location that sells a house. While that is a strong factor, how your house and garden look from the street when someone pulls up to it for the first time is equally important. There are many ways to easily and cheaply improve curb appeal.


Curb appealSelling a house is a lot of work. You need to work with a real estate agent to put the house up for sale at the right price. You need to declutter the inside of your house to make it more appealing. And you need to ensure your house has some decent curb appeal.

The latter is what I’ll focus on since we are talking about gardening here. Most curb appeal comes from how your front garden looks. While your back garden is also somewhat important and these techniques apply equally there, if you have limited time and money focus on the front.

Even if you are not selling your house, maintaining the curb appeal of your house will give you a good feeling every time you pull into your driveway after a long day of work.

Maintain your lawn

Your lawn may be the largest surface area in your front garden. If it is scraggly and unkempt, it will be very noticeable.

So keep your lawn mowed to a reasonable height. While you may prefer the golf-course look, keep in mind that buyers may see that as a liability in needing to keep up the maintenance that such a lawn requires.

While you are at it, dig out any large weeds, especially dandelions. And for any bare spots overseed with the same variety. Usually new grass grows quite quickly.

And just an inch of water a week will keep your lawn green in most areas. Of course obey any watering restrictions you might have in summertime.

Sweep and power wash walkways and driveway

The walk up to your front door and your driveway will be the first surface a future buyer will step on.

You should at least sweep the surfaces with a broom to get rid of dead leaves, dirt and general debris.

If you have a lot of stains or mossy spots you may also want to power wash the surfaces to bring them back to the original colour. In summer make sure you are allowed to powerwash if you have watering restrictions.

If you have pavers or flagstones set in sand, you also may need to pull up weeds in between. Or you can spray vinegar to kill the tops of the weeds (deep rooted weeds may grow back).

Not only will your driveway and walkways look better, but they will also be safer. You don’t want anyone to slip and fall on wet leaves.

Weed flowerbeds

You also need do some basic weeding of your flower beds. It shouldn’t take too long when using a hoe to cut off the weeds. For perennial weeds and deep tap-rooted weeds such as dandelion, you will have to use a weeder to get rid of those.

While you are at it, also trim any dead flowers from bushes and dead-head annuals and perennials to maintain a tidy look.

Add mulch

Once you have weeded everything, obtain some wood mulch and apply a 1 to 2 inch layer on all garden beds. This will unify the beds so that they all have one colour. It will also help to suppress weeds so that if your house is on the market for several weeks, you don’t have to constantly keep up with weeding (as you might be busy searching for a new house yourself).

Avoid very brightly coloured mulch (there are some that are a bright red) as that might be too intense and will not look very natural. You want the mulch to blend in with the rest of the landscape.

Prune bushes and trees

You should also take some time to prune your bushes and trees. You are mainly wanting to prune out the three D’s. 

Other considerations is to prune for form. 

You also want to prune bushes close to your front entrance so that people are not having to fight through a jungle of foliage to get to the front door. Plus you want your front door to be easily visible from the street.

Make sure as well that your house number can be seen from the street so that prospective buyers can easily find your address.

Plant colourful flowers

Now you can start adding some colour if your front garden lacks it. In the warm season, plant some annuals to add a splash of colour. In colder months you may not be able to plant any flowers but more on that in the last tip below.

If you don’t wish to plant in the ground you can also add pots and hanging baskets. The advantage is that you can take those with you when you move. Although check with your real estate agent to make sure you can do so and make sure that prospective buyers are aware.

Paint trim and restain garden structures

If there is flaking and peeling paint on any of your house’s trim you should consider giving that a fresh coat of paint. You don’t necessarily need to paint the whole house, the trim alone will elevate the look without the expense and time of painting the whole house.

More importantly if you have garden structures such as pergolas, arbours or decks that have turned black or grey from lack of proper stain protection, you may want to clean them and then re-stain them.

Finally consider your front door. While very strong colours might work to provide a ‘pop’ of colour, they still have to be in keeping with the rest of the house. So pick the colour wisely if you do decide to repaint the door and surrounding window frames. If you have a garage door, you might also consider painting it the same colour.

Hide garbage cans and other maintenance areas

You don’t want your ugly garbage and recycling bins to be the first thing that buyers see when they pull up into your driveway. While you often can’t just move them out of the way, you can erect a simple screen to block the sight of them from the street. 

It can be as simple as some lattice screening or pre-made fence panels. Just make sure they are securely attached so that they do not fall over during high winds.

Special tips for winter

Winter is a tough season to sell a house if you are wanting to use curb appeal as a major selling point. If at all possible avoid selling in the depths of winter. If you don’t have a choice, then make the best of it.

Make sure to keep walks and your driveway clear and salted. Not only is it a safety concern but it also will look better to have a freshly cleared walkway rather than a mishmash of footprints in the snow.

Flowers may not be a solution if you are in a deep freeze with lots of snow. You might though be able to have some hanging baskets or pots with some greenery such as pine boughs and holly stuck into them. They look even better with a fresh dusting of snow.

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Curb appeal need not cost a lot of money or take a lot of time. You can do all of these steps with some help on a weekend. And you should be able to maintain it in about 15 minutes a day while your house is on the market.

Do you have any other tips for improving curb appeal that is easy and inexpensive? Leave a comment to share your tips with the rest of the Tranquil Garden community.

Marc Thoma

Marc is the founder of Tranquil Garden. He has more than 15 years gardening experience and is working steadily towards his own tranquil garden.

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