Keeping Up Your Home's Curb Appeal
Consistent home maintenance can cut down on the number of tasks you'll need to tackle when it's time to put your property on the market. Whether you're selling or staying, follow these 10 tips to keep your home's landscaping and exterior looking its best.
Pick the Right Landscaping
If you want to create curb appeal that will last through the seasons and the years, look for low-maintenance plants that provide color year round. Let a local landscaper or nursery help you choose plants for your front lawn that are native to your area and will thrive without much fuss from you.
To keep your home's front landscape from overpowering your home, look for slow-growing shrubs and trees that won't obstruct or damage the home. "Foundation" plants like boxwood and varieties of evergreen yew bushes are ideal for planting along the base of a home, since they provide color but won't block windows or doors.
"The biggest mistake homeowners make is not knowing the size the tree or shrub will be at maturity," says Greg Seaman, founder of Eartheasy.com, a website that offers information and products for sustainable living. Homeowners who don't investigate the growth pattern of the plants they install may find themselves digging them up and replacing them a few years later, he adds.
Add color with perennial flowers that don't have to replanted year after year, with flowers like Shasta daisies and lavender, and with lilies like the Stella De Oro – known to rebloom from May to July and sometimes even through September.
Make Watering Easier
Keep your front landscape lush and green by installing an automatic irrigation system or by snaking drip or soaker hoses, which typically use less water than sprinkler systems, through your planting beds. "A lawn that is yellow and patchy gives buyers the idea that your home is not properly maintained," says Cindy Lin, general manager/founder of Staged4More Home Staging in South San Francisco.
Greg recommends using a soaker hose, which can be attached to your home's outdoor spigot with a timer, for adequate watering. "That way, you can walk away from your yard, and it will be fine," he says.
Soaker hoses save homeowners time and effort, since they can do the work while you do something else, he explains.
Lessen the Lawn
It can be tough to keep up your home's curb appeal when you constantly have to mow, fertilize and weed your lawn. For an appealing landscape that requires less work, replace at least some of your lawn with swaths of low-maintenance garden beds filled with evergreen shrubs and mulch, or add displays of ornamental grasses, which grow well in most soils and require little maintenance.
Greg recommends putting bark mulch underneath bushes and trees. "Once you put your mulch down, if you've done a good job of it, you won't have to mulch for a few years," he says.
Remove turf beneath trees and add shade-loving groundcover like Periwinkle, Pachysandra, ferns, violets and hostas to reduce your front yard's watering and mowing needs. Add a paver or brick border to keep the plantings from spreading beyond the desired area.
You can also significantly up your home's curb appeal by removing a bit of lawn for an outdoor seating area, which can be created by placing a garden bench in an area of stones, gravel or mulch.
Maintain Paint and Siding
Make it a habit to periodically check your home's paint or siding for peeling paint, damaged siding or mold growth. Spotting and fixing problems early on can help you avoid a costly repair (from water damage, for instance) when it comes time to sell.
Routinely inspect the north side of your home for green mold and mildew, which tend to spread and worsen where there's little sunlight. Keep the growth in check with regular cleaning. The siding can be cleaned with a garden hose, a long-handled brush (like the type used for recreation vehicles) and with regular liquid soap and water. Just be sure to spray down, not up, on your siding to avoid getting water underneath the shingles, which could damage your home.
Inspect Roof and Gutters
If you aren't afraid of heights, get up on a ladder regularly and check your roof for damage, debris, moss and algae, and for clogs in your gutter system. Otherwise, hire a pro to do the job. Good times to check are before the winter season for preventative maintenance, and in the spring to fix any detrimental effects of winter.
"Doing this can prevent potential costly damage to your home's exterior and interior," Cindy says.
If left unchecked, clogged gutters can lead to overflows of water from your roof that can saturate foundations, and missing shingles on the roof can lead to interior home leaks.
Tidy Up Driveways and Walkways
Driveways and walkways are what will lead a potential buyer to your home, so keep them in good shape. Weeds and cracks in walkways and driveways should be dealt with as soon as possible to prevent moreserious problems. Seal asphalt driveways every two years to keep them at their best, says Stephen Boehler, owner of Mr. Handyman of Monmouth County in New Jersey. Cracks in cement walkways and driveways can be filled with cement and cement caulk as needed, he adds.
Freshen Up the Front Entrance
The main doorway of a home gets a lot of use and can fall into disrepair. The front door is a focal point, so it's important to keep it looking nice to maintain your home's curb appeal.
Fix any rotted or unpainted wood around the front door, make sure the doorbell works property and repair loose railings, Stephen suggests.
Updating the front door is an easy and cost-effective way to add instant curb appeal to the home. Paint the door an eye-catching color and install updated door hardware like knobs, doorknockers and house numbers.
Watch Windows and Screens
If your windows are drafty and don't pass muster anymore, put money away for this upgrade long before you decide to sell. While fairly costly, energy efficient windows will save you money over the long term (in reduced energy expenditures) and are appealing to today's cost-conscious buyers.
Damaged screens and shutters are an eyesore, so fix or replace them before putting your home on the market.
Keep Plant Growth in Check
Trim plants every spring and fall as needed to keep them looking good and to prevent them from damaging the home. "People have the tendency of letting plants get overgrown or too close to the home," says Stephen. "All shrubs should not be touching the home, and you should be able to walk around the entire foundation of the home."
Overgrown trees and shrubs obscure a house and detract from the property's curb appeal.
Home is where the heart is, so it's hard to look at your house with an objective eye. It's a good idea to bring in friends, family or professionals now and then to spot curb appeal issues that you otherwise might not see.
Have them "step back and look at the house as if they were in the market to purchase it, and pick out objectively the things that stick out," Stephen suggests.