Curb Appeal: 5 Low-Cost Easy Landscaping Tips

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curb appeal landscaping tips

A minimalist curb-appeal landscaping plan can revitalize any yard that's not in serious trouble. You'll have bright color, lush greens and a well-manicured yard that says, "I'm easy and neat." It turns out, sellers don't need landscaping skills or a fat wallet to win on curb appeal.

Here are some quick and simple landscaping fixes that enhance curb appeal and deliver a low-maintenance yet high-class look.

1. Remove debris every day. "You don't want your yard to look like a lot of work to keep up," said Annette Weese, manager of Cold Creek Nursery in Aiken, S.C. She advised homeowners to be mindful of keeping the grass raked and free of pine needles, pinecones and leaves. A yard full of leaves only shows the amount of work awaiting new homeowners -- and for some, that's a deal breaker.

2. Trim everything back for a just-planted look. Weese advised keeping bushes neatly trimmed below the windows. In addition to a groomed appearance, trimmed shrubs look easy to care for and suggest slow growth -- another important element in a low-maintenance look. Also, windows and natural light are big assets, so letting shrubs grow to block these detracts from exterior curb appeal as well as the interior of the home.

3. Make a splash with annual color. "It's amazing what a little color can do to change the look of a house," said Brad McLean of McLean Landscapes in Northern Virginia. He recommended adding 15 to 20 pots of an inexpensive, easy growing seasonal bloom. Keep it simple and choose one type, such as impatiens, pansies or, depending on the season, even mums. You can break out a little and try alternating colors. Be sure to select a long-blooming variety so your landscaping efforts will carry you through the entire season.

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Curb Appeal: 5 Low-Cost Easy Landscaping Tips

When 'This Old House' asked readers to submit their projects, more than 1,000 responded with work that showed the abilities of all you dedicated DIYers. Here's a look at 10 of your top picks for curb appeal projects chosen by TOH editors and readers.

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From This Old House

Who: Mary Kay and Pat McPhillips

Where: Ellensburg, Wash.

It took us 20 years, but my husband and I were finally ready to add period charm to our nondescript 1920s house. We wanted it to look more balanced and inviting and add some Arts and Crafts style. After inspecting old homes in the area and consulting an architect, we decided to add a deep front porch, square pillars, a centered front door, and a shed roof. Two contractors, working together, enclosed the existing entry porch, built the new framework, put up fiber-cement siding, and installed a glass-paned door that mimics the home's original windows.

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From This Old House

Who: Mary Kay and Pat McPhillips

Where: Ellensburg, Wash.

Then Pat took over. He's pretty much self-taught but very methodical. He laid the composite decking for the porch floor, put up stone veneer, built the stairs, and painted the railings. My job was cleanup and landscaping. We worked for three months, almost nonstop. Now we love sitting on the porch with friends -- and Pat is so inspired, he's started working on the back.

Who did the work: I did all the work myself

Cost: $1,000 to $5,000

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From This Old House

Who: Sean M

Where: Charlestown, Mass.

When we bought our 1860s rowhouse, it had zero curb appeal -- and that's a big problem when the curb is 5 feet from your front door! So, we had it re-sided and the front entry opened up to its original configuration.

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From This Old House

Who: Sean M

Where: Charlestown, Mass.

I did all the carpentry on the entry. I modeled it after other homes in the area, scaling and tweaking things a little bit. Our adjacent neighbors, who where renovating their exterior as well, liked the result so much they had their contractor replicate my design!

Who did the work: I did some of the work myself

Cost: $10,000 to $25,000

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From This Old House

Who: Bob B

Where: Milford, Conn.

This is the restoration of a 1900s beach cottage (third home from the water).

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From This Old House

Who: Bob B

Where: Milford, Conn.

The goal was to create the feeling of an older cottage with low maintenace, modern materials.

Who did the work: I did some of the work myself

Cost: $25,000 to $50,000

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From This Old House

Who: Bob B.

Where: Oneida, Nev.

This traditional "four-square" had the original front porch enclosed by the prior owner many years ago. We designed the project and specified all the materials, working closely with our contractor who understands and "feels" old houses.

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From This Old House

The porch was completely removed and rebuilt using composite decking, rails, and columns. The entire structure was sided to bring the house more into line with its original styling.

Who did the work: A contractor did all the work

Cost: $25,000 to $50,000

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From This Old House
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4. Top off the flowerbeds. Refresh flowerbed mulch and re-edge for a clean look that pops. It's a classic approach to enhance curb appeal and will slow down weed growth, so there's one less thing to worry about. If you are doing this yourself and live in a termite area, remember to keep wood-based mulch pushed away from the side of the house. Other mulch choices include pine needles, pea gravel, bark and shredded hardwood mulch.

5. Get the golf course green. It isn't easy to green your yard in a pinch if your grass is dry, dull or has brown patches, but who wants to inherit a sickly yard? In this case, McLean suggested a little-publicized quick fix: turf paint. The result is instantaneous, lasting and affordable. It's commonly used on golf courses to maintain year-round greens and can add luster to any dull yard without damaging the grass.


For more landscaping and home-staging help see these AOL Real Estate guides:
Xeriscaping: 6 steps to Natural, Low Maintenance Lawn
Best Landscape Design Options
Home Staging for Every Season
How to Stage a Home Yourself

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