It’s not just when you put your home on the market that you should think about improving the curb appeal of your home. Of course, that’s the trendy topic of more than a few TV shows, books and blogs, which is a good thing! But, we are proponents of improving curb appeal for your own enjoyment, as well as for the betterment of your neighborhood and community.
An attractive, well-maintained yard and garden is a key part of curb appeal, that view from the street. If you are trying to market your home, the first impression of a house and the surrounding landscape can make a potential buyer take a closer look at the property or immediately move on to the next house. Attractive landscaping can help a house sell days or weeks faster than other houses on the market. It’s estimated that well-maintained trees and gardens can increase a home’s value by as much as 15%.
All homeowners should make outdoor cleaning a priority. Investing a little time and a few dollars can make the outside of your home sparkle. Mow the lawn and rake up leftover leaves or debris. Trim trees and shrubs by removing broken branches and any unsafe, low or overhanging branches. Trim the grass encroaching on the sidewalk and driveway. Tidy up any flowerbeds by cutting a new edge or trimming grass away from the borders and pull all offending weeds. Then add a few bags of mulch around the base of plantings for a nice, clean look.
That’s what we call basic landscape upkeep and if that’s all you have time for, you certainly can stop there but you’re not getting that full 15% of enhanced home value.
Now’s the time to consider a few gardening tasks to really improve the look of your home. Gardening doesn’t have to be a lot of work or take a lot of time. A few shortcuts can create an instant garden. You don’t even have to own a shovel!
Start by adding containers of colorful flowers. They’re easy to grow and can be placed in many areas around the house and yard. Put a container by the front door to welcome visitors. If you have a covered porch, add a few hanging baskets. Attach some window boxes to the deck rail or at the base of several key windows.
Enhance an ordinary planting of shrubs by grouping colorful containers in front and around the shrubs to make the area look larger and more attractive.
You’ll find an assortment of pre-planted containers in a variety of plant and color combinations available at the local garden center, home store, supermarket or hardware store. At this time of year, there are beautiful containers of fall flowers such as mums, ornamental kale or cabbage, pansies, violas and more to provide a quick pop of color and character. Simply determine if the container is recommended for sunny areas or shaded spots, then choose whichever matches the conditions where you’ll put the container. Keep the container watered and remove faded flowers to keep plants blooming.
Looking for something more unique? Design and plant your own containers. Available in a variety of sizes and colors there’s a style of plant container to complement any home. Whether you like plastic or clay, ceramic or wood, there are two simple rules. Select a container that’s large enough for the plants and make sure it has drainage for excess water so plants don’t drown. Then fill the container with a good soilless growing media. For easy maintenance, choose a media that contains a slow-release fertilizer for healthy plant growth.
When deciding which plants to choose, express your creativity by selecting plants or flowers in the colors or combinations you like. If you’re a cook, choose a variety of tasty herbs or mix herbs with flowers and vegetables in the same container. The possibilities are endless. If you need a little inspiration, look at pre-planted containers at retail stores for ideas of pleasing plant combinations.
Some new homeowners who want a larger garden may find that their soil is not the best so an easy solution is to garden in raised beds. They can be quickly made from landscape timbers, lumber, or bricks. Raised bed kits of wood or recycled plastic can be purchased from garden catalogs and websites. After assembling the frame, simply fill with bags of high-quality soil, compost, and composted manure. Annual flowers and vegetables such as lettuce and beans can be grown in a shallow raised bed that is 4-6 inches deep. For perennial flowers and plants such as tomatoes that need to develop a more extensive root system, a bed that is 8-12 inches deep is recommended.
Plants can also provide solutions to some potential homeowner problems. Maybe you’d like some privacy or a screen to hide an unsightly view. A hedge of shrubs is great but can take time to grow and fill in. In the meantime, plant a row of sunflowers from seed or plants. They grow quickly, withstand heat, dry conditions, and provide beautiful flowers. As an extra benefit, the flowers can be cut for attractive bouquets. Do you want to soften the appearance of a chain-link or wire fence? Plant some morning glories or a vegetable such as cucumber, squash, or gourds at the base of the fence. The vines will grow quickly using the fence for support while covering it with leaves and delightful flowers or nourishing vegetables.
These ideas provide all homeowners with easy ways to become involved in gardening. Whether your garden is a hanging basket, a colorful flower border, or a large bed of delicious vegetables, you’ll enhance the value of your home and create a more beautiful living space for everyone to enjoy.
Source – National Garden Bureau and Janis Kieft.