Make Your Home Stand Out With Summer Curb Appeal

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By Marcia Goodman

curb appeal home

With winter doldrums, spring rainstorms and school buses out of the way, it’s time to really celebrate the freedom of summer! Maybe you’ve already had multiple barbecues, taken a couple of trips to the beach or tried a few dips in the pool. Now what? Well, warm breezes and sunshine also make this the perfect time to pamper the outside of your home, especially if you are planning to sell. Here’s why.

You’re not the only one out and about. Summer is a great time for home shopping, so curb appeal is more important now than ever!

Are you ready to dive into some cool creativity? Here are a few inexpensive ways to give your home a facelift this summer.

Get Your Gardening Going

Good landscaping can add up to 28% to overall home value says landscape economist John Harris. And according to a Clemson University study, taking your landscaping from “good” to “excellent” in terms of design, condition and placement can add 6% to 7% to a home’s value. The basics of landscaping start with gardening.

Gardening can be a fun, relaxing way to spend time with your family (or alone with your thoughts) and adds excellent curb appeal to your home. Color your garden beautiful by planting some blooming flowers. It will really liven up the front of your home!

Worried about weeding? Don’t be. Keep your weeds under control by digging them up with a hoe and allowing them to wither in the sun. Once the weeds are dead, you can remove them by hand or simply mow and mulch the nutrients back into the soil.

This is also a great time of year for deadheading your garden. (And no, this doesn’t mean gardening while jamming out to your favorite Jerry Garcia songs, though you’re welcome to do so.) Deadheading is the process of removing dead flowers and leaves from your plants to help them grow the best and produce more flowers. To deadhead, you can remove just the dead portion of the flower with your hands or shear off the top few inches of the plant with gardening shears. This diverts the plant’s energy from growing new seeds in those flowers to help the plant flourish.

Mulch Like Mad

Even if you applied fresh mulch earlier in the season, a fresh layer of mulch after a good weeding session can make your landscaping look like new again. Using the right mulch can help conserve water, protect plant roots from temperature extremes, beef up soil and discourage weed growth. Decorative mulch can add color and texture, especially to spaces between plants.

If you want to improve soil, use an organic mulch made of partially decomposed wood products. This kind of mulch encourages plant growth. As it continues to decompose, it will also add

nutrients to the soil. If soil improvement is not an issue but you want to control weeds, go for wood chips and bark. This kind of mulch, if organic, will last longer and add integrity to the soil as it ages.

If you aren’t sure what kind of mulch to use or how to spread it correctly, consult your local nursery.

Consider Containers

Not all plants need to grow in the ground. Containers are a great option for creating curb appeal. Container plants, especially large ones, can add interest to patios and doorways where would-be buyers enter and exit the house. If you are low on yard space, you might also consider window boxes. A pop of color can accomplish quite a bit, not just for the front of the home, but for the back and porches, too. Railing planters can create a sense of lushness and life around the deck or on fences.

When choosing pots, think about your home’s exterior. You want the colors to complement, not clash. You also want the pot to complement the colors of the plants and flowers in them. If you need help with this, your local nursery is a good place to get advice. Or if you’re more of a DIY person, use a color wheel to get some ideas.

Be judicious in placing your planters. Sometimes less is more, but if you’ve got large spaces to fill or need to bring more life to an area, you might need additional pots. The goal is to create an oasis, a place the new owners will want to come home to and feel the stress of the day evaporate in the presence of beauty.

Rule of Green Thumb: Keep it Cut

In the midst of all this creativity, be sure you’ve covered the basics. Cut the lawn. Edge sidewalks and paths, as well as the driveway. Weed whack around trees, bushes and décor. Then be sure trees, shrubs and bushes are sporting their best. Keep them trimmed and neat, too.

If need be, get help shaping bushes. Poorly cut bushes are like bad haircuts – people do notice them, and they take a while to grow out.

Highlight Your Hard Work

Outdoor lighting consistently tops the National Association of Home Builders list of most wanted outdoor features in its annual “What Home Buyers Really Want” survey: 41% rate it “essential;” 49% say it’s “desirable.” Outdoor lighting can tastefully paint your home at night and highlight particularly attractive sections of landscape.

Landscape light packages sold at your local home improvement store offer easy install with dramatic results. You can purchase these packages relatively inexpensively. If you have a special tree or shrub or some favorite flowers, let people know by highlighting that natural beauty with a little added light.

Adding solar lights along any sidewalks, driveways or paths in your front yard can not only give your home a whimsical look, but can greatly improve safety by illuminating where you walk at night. This can prevent slips and falls and also add to your home security. Soft lighting on your porch can give your home a warm and inviting feeling, as potential homebuyers envision themselves sipping a crisp pinot grigio or a sweet tea on a warm July evening.

Other ideas for creating curb appeal? Paint your doors and shutters. Refinish or replace your mailbox. Polish the numbers on your house. Make sure the doorbell isn’t cracked and that it works. These details make a difference when someone approaches your home.

Our parents might have told us not to judge a book by its cover, but we know home buyers can’t help but judge your house from the second their car pulls up. Make those first ten seconds of seeing your home create a lasting, positive impression. If you want to add to the value of your home and make visitors think, “Wow! I’d love to live here!”, invest in creating curb appeal. And feel free to enjoy the process!

Marcia Goodman is a staging Realtor in Gainesville, Va., specializing in preparing homes to sell. Marcia can be contacted through her website at


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