How to improve curb appeal? 7 low-cost outdoor projects with instant results

Home Selling 101: Curb Appeal
Home Selling 101: Curb Appeal

Every little thing counts when you're hoping to get the best price for your home — especially in a crowded real estate market. "Buyers are looking at 12 to 17 homes before they write an offer," says Jeff Lowen, who specializes in Washington, DC, real estate. While most sellers make sure their home's interior is spotless, staged, and even smelling of cookies, ignoring the exterior could keep a potential buyer from even stopping the car to take a closer look. Although it's likely you've addressed the bigger issues (paint and pressure washing, keeping the lawn manicured, etc.), those small details can make a huge impact when it comes to that first impression.

Here are seven landscape design projects to tackle before you even consider listing your home for sale.

Home for sale in dallas tx with DIY Landscape Design
Home for sale in dallas tx with DIY Landscape Design

Address to impress

Out with the old, in with the new. A fresh set of house numbers can enhance the overall style of your home, as with this traditional stunner at 1618 Hollywood Ave., Dallas, TX 75208. Choosing a material that matches other exterior features creates a cohesive look, but don't underestimate the impact of a bold design choice with finish, font, or size. There's a range of styles and prices to choose from — you can find numbers priced at a few dollars at big-box home improvement stores to more than $20 each at specialty shops.

Nail the mailbox

Think of your front door as the ambassador to your home; it's often the first thing a buyer sees when viewing your home from a distance. Patrick Parker, broker and owner of Patrick Parker Realty in Bradley Beach, NJ, suggests painting the mailbox to give it a face-lift. Don't be shy about replacing the post (this basic post from Wayfair costs roughly $60) or the mailbox itself (classic options start around $50).

Home for sale in New Orleans LA with DIY Landscape Design
Home for sale in New Orleans LA with DIY Landscape Design

Repaint the front door

"The exterior painting litmus test is this: no peeling paint or exposed untreated wood should ever be present," says Sara Benson, real estate agent and broker-in-charge at Benson Stanley Realty in Chicago, IL. This rings true for the front door too, which is subject to significant use that can impact the finish. Freshen it up with a new coat of your current color or enliven the entire exterior by painting the door a brighter hue, like the sunny yellow entry at 3605 Constance St., New Orleans, LA 70115. A gallon of quality, semigloss exterior paint won't set you back more than $50. (For an extra-fresh look, repaint the trim around windows and other features while you're at it.)

Wash up

You can rent pressure washers at your local home improvement or hardware store for less than $100 a day. A good (gentle) scrub will take off the grime that can make siding look dingy and dull. Don't forget to take it to your deck too, where the scourge of all homeowners sometimes lurks: mold. "Wood decks are perceived to be a great deal of work, so treating it for mold now is a huge plus," says John Mangas, broker and co-owner, RE/MAX Preferred Associates in Toledo, OH.

Home for sale in Seattle WA with DIY Landscape Design
Home for sale in Seattle WA with DIY Landscape Design

Light it up

"Outdoor lighting, especially landscape lighting, can generate ambiance and drama," Benson says. "After the initial daytime viewing, buyers often drive by the 'home of their dreams' at night. A well-lit residence can act as a magnet that increases desire." Put a spotlight on a lovely landscape detail and line the walkways. And don't forget to turn on your porch light. You'll want buyers to notice that freshly painted door, like this bright red number at 812 East Shelby St., Seattle, WA 98102, even when it's dark outside. Basic LED landscape lights can be found for as little as $50 at most big-box home improvement stores.

Clear out the gutters

Gutters overflowing with dead leaves? It's not a great look, and Jennifer Kjellgren, owner of Atlanta, GA, boutique real estate agency InTown Expert, names it one of the top turnoffs for potential buyers. Spring is the perfect time to tackle this chore, but it can be a messy task. If you'd rather hire a pro instead of buying a ladder and some sturdy gloves, expect to pay $125 to $175 minimum for a professional's help.

Home for sale in Delray Beach FL with DIY Landscape Design
Home for sale in Delray Beach FL with DIY Landscape Design

Let it "grow"

If you don't have a green thumb, you can fake it with a few key purchases. Patrick Parker recommends mulching flower beds and planting bright-colored flowers (like the vibrant pink flowers that welcome visitors to this home at 116 NE 7th St., Delray Beach, FL 33444). Parker also advises spending a little time tidying up the hedges with a trim. The total cost for this mini-makeover? Under $200, based on how many flats of blooms and how much mulch you need.

How do you freshen your curb appeal before selling? Share your DIY landscape design projects in the comments below!

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