Curb Appeal

10 Smart Ways to Add Curb Appeal to Your Home

Any home improvement can increase your home’s value. But curb appeal is especially important! The front of your property makes a first impression. And in addition to the pride of ownership, adding curb appeal will ensure your home stands out to future buyers when it’s time to sell. Here are some proven ways to enhance your property—without breaking the bank—in just a weekend or two.

1. Add visual interest using mulch, rock beds, and shrub varieties.

Curb appeal with mulch and rocks

If your front yard is nothing but grass, here’s an idea: Cut our an irregular (curved) patch of the grass, and replace it with a combination of mulch or bark planters, and rock beds. Include at least a few evergreen shrubs or bushes in a variety of shapes and colors. You can go big, or start small, but these zones near the front of the house give it that “professional” landscape distinction. You don’t want it to look too busy, but you can add a large rock, a log, a stone birdbath, or a stone retainer wall to break up larger spaces.

2. Add some low-voltage lighting (or go solar).

Low voltage landscape lighting

The Pacific Northwest has long, dark winters, and rural Kitsap County neighborhoods aren’t generally well-lit. A few well-placed landscape lights bring out the color and warmth of your yard or home during the evening. Outdoor lights also provide a sense of security and better safety around the property.

Installing low-voltage outdoor lighting is a great outdoor DIY project for homeowners. But solar landscape spotlights can also work, if the area gets enough sunshine. (Skip the $3 plastic stake lights, and look for a high-quality warm LED spotlight instead.) You can use landscape lighting to showcase the architecture of your home at night, too.

3. Paint your front door for a pop of color.

Red front door

If your house is a neutral shade of blah, paint your front door with a contrasting color. Red, blue, sea foam, yellow, and even black are great options. Pick a shade that’s not too bright and coordinates with your other paint colors. If you have an HOA, you’ll also want to check the neighborhood guidelines before you go out and buy paint. And while you’re at it, you can upgrade your front door hardware. This is a quick and inexpensive way to make a cookie-cutter house more appealing.

4. Plant annuals (seasonal flowers) in a couple pots or planter beds.

Planting flowers

Flowers are the best way to add instant curb appeal! And there’s no need to spend a lot of time or money gardening. Outdoor flower pots are very affordable at HomeGoods, Marshalls and T.J. Maxx stores. Don’t fuss or worry too much about planting methods—just loosen any exposed flower roots, stick them in the soil, and keep them watered daily.

Some people even dig holes in the ground to fit the entire round container of flowers, and just pull out the whole plant when it’s time to switch seasons. In 2 hours or less, your front porch or garden beds can be bright and colorful… for under $50.

5. Add decorative shutters, a wood plank porch ceiling, or accent trim.

Decorate northwest home shuters

Decorative shutters in a contrasting color, window flower boxes, and white trim can transform plain exterior siding. For a small covered porch, a wood plank accent ceiling feels luxurious. And adding trim details to porch columns (or installing larger ones) can make a statement, too. Those special touches you add to your home makes it more unique and appealing.

6. Plant one or two ornamental shrubs or dwarf trees.

Ornamental trees in the yard

Ask your local nursery staff for ideas, such as: Emerald Green Arborvitae, Dward Japanese Maple, Dogwood, Magnolia, Crepe Myrtle, and Weeping Alaska Cedar. I recommend having both a deciduous flowering tree (which loses its leaves in the fall) and an evergreen tree (such as a dwarf pine) for year-round color. A red and green combo works beautifully. But you don’t want tall trees in the front yard to hide the house, so stick with small varieties or plant the tree(s) off to one side.

7. Trim or remove overgrown bushes and hedges.

Trimmed Hedges

This one is surprisingly simple and easy to overlook. But I can’t tell you how many times I show a home for sale that needs some basic pruning. Most bushes, left alone, grow too big for the space eventually. Or, they get bent out of shape from a heavy winter snowfall, children playing in the yard, or over-crowded garden beds. In 10 minutes or less, you can prune back overgrown bushes and hedges using a trimmer.

While it isn’t necessary to have a pristine or manicured yard, you should generally keep bushes from covering up windows and porch views. Keep in mind that you never want to prune past the outer leaf layers, and certain times of the year are best for pruning to avoid damage by the winter frost.

8. Add one or two porch accessories (but keep it simple).

Be careful here, because clutter detracts from your home’s curb appeal. But if you have the space and the budget, you could add a sitting area with a bench or rocking chairs. A crisp, new patriotic flag might look great in the summertime. A wreath on the door or a hanging flower basket can bring in some greenery and color. You could also upgrade old porch lights, mailboxes or address numbers. Place a welcome mat at the door, and you’re all set.

9. Complete any repairs, touch-up painting, and moss removal.

Painting touchup

A quick scrub or pressure wash can remove mild build-up and mildew. For tougher jobs, a fresh coat of paint can transform your trim and siding, and make your house sparkle. You’ll also want to caulk any gaps or cracks, fill holes, and secure loose fences or deck boards.

Roof moss, which is rampant here in Kitsap County, is an eyesore as well as a hazard. It makes homes look run down, and it leads to structural decay or moisture problems. Treating it every couple years will keep your home looking beautiful and protected. (I can recommend reputable moss removal companies if you need one.)

10. Hide ugly stuff behind a fence panel or privacy screen.

Fence screen

Most people have some eyesores around the property… garbage bins, A/C condensers, propane tanks, toys, and yard tools, to name a few. But equipment, trash and storage bins are easy to hide using fence panels or privacy screens. You can search Pinterest and other websites for examples, and even DIY plans.