Curb appeal is one of the great ways to improve the beauty and value of your home.
A good looking landscape can add up to 15% to the value of your home. Besides, it’s so nice to come home and see your nest at its best.
You may have some problems that spoil your view and value. Perhaps you inherited mistakes from a former owner. Perhaps you made some choices that you now regret. The good news is that it’s never too late to make some economical and easy improvements that will perk up your landscape.
If you are considering selling your property or you are just plain tired of the tired landscape look, adding some fresh curb appeal will go a long way to improving the view of your property. With knowledge of a few basics and some minimal expenditure you can make your outdoor spaces proud to see places. If you can devote a weekend or two and some elbow grease, correcting problems can be easier than you think with our six quick fixes.
Get Tough and Go Tidy
One of the fastest ways to improve the look of your landscape is to get rid of clutter. Do you have bikes, kid’s toys, old collections of wood or pots, rusty, broken lawn furniture or unkempt hoses visible? Go through the yard with an inspector’s eye and get tough on stuff lying around loose. The old adage of a place for everything and everything in its place is definitely worth instituting when it comes to the landscape. It’s worth the purchase of a large backyard garden storage shed or some storage shelves to keep things organized.
Enlist the children in your campaign to de-clutter. They have amazing insight and when they have a part in the process it is more likely that they will do their part to keep things neat. Have a family meeting to discuss your new rules to eliminate clutter and stick to them.
For curb appeal as well as green practice, if you have a lawn, it is most important to keep it healthy and well maintained. Your home will look groomed if you take some sustainable steps in lawn care.
Keep it trim.
Clean Edges and Mulch Make a Difference
Photo Credit: lawnboy69/photobucket
Edges are important in keeping a home landscape looking its best. Removing grass from the edges of the driveway and sidewalk, flowerbeds, decks, patios and walkways keeps a clean, neat look that can’t be achieved any other way. There are hand tools that will accomplish this but most people use string trimmers for edging.
Old school gas trimmers are noisy and polluting, but there is a new generation of power tools for lawn care that make sense for the environment and your health. If you are using a string trimmer, let the tip of the string do the work, and avoid tree trunks. Make sure you are not cutting the grass too short with the string trimmer, because this leaves room for broad leaf weeds to germinate.
Remove Landscape Losers
You can improve your landscape very quickly by removing mistakes that you or your predecessors made. Worn and sorry brick-a-brack, and that stray pink flamingo should definitely leave the landscape, but there are other permanent problems that need to be addressed.
One of the most frequently found problems are shrubs that are planted too close to the foundation. The recommended distance is four feet away from the house. This is to provide air circulation, protect he foundation from water and root damage and providing space to walk behind the planting.
If the shrubs are too large to transplant, cut them out and start over. It will be an expense that will repay itself 100-200 times over. Nothing beats a good looking foundation planting when it comes to curb appeal.
When replacing landscape plants, choose native varieties. They will be easier and less costly to maintain as well as preserving the natural ecosystem in your yard. You don’t have to worry if they will be invasive exotic species that spread to the wild. Do your homework to determine the height and spread of your new plants, so you don’t have to do so much work to keep them in check later.
Keep Things in Proportion
Limb Up an Overgrown Shrub
Photo Credit: perfectrubbermulch/photobucket
If you have mature trees and shrubs that are overgrown and are no longer proportional to the house, cut them back. It is advisable to remove no more than one third of the growth in any one pruning.
If an overgrown shrub has adequate room you can cut off the lower limbs to make a tree shape. But remember, if the plant is closer than four feet from the foundation, remove it.
Mulch Makes a Difference
Mulch is a great way to make your yard look well maintained in a hurry. You can use shredded bark, chunk bark or pinestraw – any of these will bring a transition and a sense of unity between the plants and the rest of the landscape. Mulch adds a lot to the look of a landscape, but its benefits far exceed just visual improvement. When you mulch your planting beds, shrubs and trees you are preserving needed moisture, reducing weeds and adding organic matter to your soil. In one easy step you have reduced maintenance and made your yard more sustainable in the process.
Bring It All into Focus
What’s the first thing that’s apparent in your landscape? Often the answer is nothing special. In today’s home building ethic, removing all ‘hindrances’ i.e. trees or natural topography that cost more to build around than to preserve. You can add a lot of interest by creating a focal point.
This can be achieved by a statue or fountain, a specimen tree, such as weeping tree, a magnificent evergreen, a berm with an all season interest tree and some native shrubs, or perhaps an arbor around a gate or a trellis with vines against a boring wall on the house. Minor architectural changes, like shutters or the front door in a contrasting color can add appeal. Adding a stepping stone walkway draws the eye to the house. One quick and easy focal point that can create appeal is to add a few colorful container gardens near the front door for some instant impact.
With a little labor of love and some ingenuity these modest improvements can make a big impact immediately. Your curb appeal will soar and your sense of accomplishment will be its own reward.
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