If your home is on the market and you want it to make a great first impression, going for major curb appeal is your first step.
You probably already know which big ticket items your home needs - if the paint is chipping and the gutter is sagging, the greenest lawn in the world won't hide those problems. But if the outside of your home is already in decent shape, then here's how to make it stand out. Fortunately, these projects don't require a great deal of cash or even a lot of time. Many can be completed in a single weekend with little more than elbow grease and a trip to the hardware store. So get together a shopping list and start practicing your curb appeal skills.
1. Have a knack for tidiness
First things first - don't let your lawn look lazy. You don't want the first thing people think when they drive up to be, "Why didn't anyone move those toys off the grass?" Invest in a large storage box - a weatherproof one that matches your siding or deck. Use that for all the little things that wind up here and there, such as outdoor toys, gardening supplies, and even extra suet for birdfeeders.
Other options might include a garden hose holder to keep things corralled, a nice grill cover with a drawstring bottom to fight strong winds, or gutter guards to keep even the roof looking nicer. If you already have flowers, paint all your flowerpots in colors that complement your siding or porch. Look around for other things that need to be cleaned up and dedicate a weekend to taking care of it all.
2. Practice the art of camouflage
Once everything is picked up and put away, what are the first things your eye focuses on? Does that air conditioning unit annoy you every time you see it? Does the generator seem glaringly out of place in the backyard? If there are things about your house that bother you but that you can't reasonably remove, do the next best thing: Cover them up!
Planting fast-growing shrubs that will remain low the ground can be a great way to hide things that you don't want to be seen by anyone walking by. Privacy fences are a good option for those without green thumbs. You can do mask air conditioning units, generators, large drainage pipes, and anything else that seems jarringly out of place with the rest of your property. If possible, you can even paint the item the same shade as your home's exterior first so it blends in.
The only caveat: Make sure whatever you plant or build is far enough away from the item in question. For instance, you might need to place shrubs a good six or eight feet away from a generator in order to ensure safety.
3. Create the perfect flower bed
A pop of color can work wonders for any property, and that is especially true when those colors come from blooming flowers. If you have the room on your property for a flower bed, now is the time. Invest in stones, bricks or low fencing to separate the flower bed areas from the rest of the lawn, then till up the area, adding in compost along the way.
Choose flowers that will bloom throughout the season, and be prepared to pull weeds and replace flowers as necessary. A flower bed does take some time to create and maintain, but the beauty it imparts can be well worth the occasional weekend hour spent on it. Don't have enough room (or time) for a garden? A window box or two can instantly boost curb appeal.
4. Give your porch an upgrade
Your porch is one of the major points that makes or breaks that first impression -- and it is also one of the easiest do-it-yourself areas of the house. Start with a fresh coat of paint or stain on the porch. Then look to getting shrubs on either side of the steps, great lighting that comes on at dusk, and comfortable places to sit. You could even look into a ceiling fan for the porch if you like to spend a lot of time out there.
Want to up the curb appeal even more? Consider painting your front door with something that contrasts perfectly with the rest of the house, creating an eye-catching scene. If your front door is old and tired, you might even want to replace it with a new one -- though depending upon the style you choose, the job might go from a DIY to one that requires a contractor. But if all you want is a new coat of paint, you can have that done in just a couple days.
5. Reconsider your landscaping
Now that the house looks tidy, the porch is freshened up, the unsightly things are hidden away, and you've got a flower bed (or flower boxes, if that suits better), it's time to turn your attention to the rest of the property. Careful landscaping and a lush, green lawn are all too often overlooked, but they definitely get attention.
Look for areas of the lawn where the grass is brown or dying. Look for bare patches where the topsoil has been carried away. It might take some time, but be patient -- once you know where the problems are, you can figure out how to fix them. It might take new grass seed, digging a small drainage ditch and lining it with rocks, or planning out where to fertilize to brighten things up.
For an eco-friendly option, look into native grasses and shrubs, faux grasses, and other landscaping that requires less water and less maintenance. All of these DIY upgrades take only a few hours or a weekend plus a little bit of investment, but they result in serious curb appeal that can make your home the envy of the neighbors -- or a very appealing place for potential buyers. Why not get started this weekend?