Why Curb Appeal is Essential and How to Create It from the Ground Up

If the front of your house is more "appalling" than "appealing" (or somewhere in between), try these landscape design ideas. It’s more vital than you may think!

By Kelly O’Roark

 

Whether you’ve built a new home or you’re rehabbing an old one, creating curb appeal is an essential part of home ownership. We’ve all watched enough HGTV shows to know that curb appeal is a buzz word, but why is this important?

 

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The answer is two-fold in terms of landscapes:  1. It’s aesthetically pleasing to you and your family, which creates feelings of happiness, stability, and a higher sense well-being, and 2. Those same feelings must be cultivated in buyers looking at your home.

 

Landscaping plays a huge supporting role in bringing life to your house. It also sends a message that your home has received the proper care. This not only gives you and your family a measure of comfort and security, but it also invites others to want to take a closer look and experience those feelings for themselves.  (Make room, Dr. Phil – we’re delving into the psychology of landscape design!)

 

So whether you’re thinking of selling your house or just yearning for a home makeover, it’s vital to make your house look appealing from the street view. Not only does this invoke a sense of pride every time you pull into the driveway of your home sweet home, but it’s also the first impression your house will make on potential buyers.

 

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If the outside looks drab and unfinished when it comes time to sell, those prospective buyers are most likely not going to bother looking at the inside. Even if the exterior architectural structure and brick patterns look amazing, it won’t have a finished appearance without a solid landscape design.

 

So it’s time to say goodbye to the “before” phase and relish in the “after.” You can create massive curb appeal with a head-turning landscape design by implementing the following:

 

1. Go for Variety with Trees, Flowers, and Shrubs

Along the front perimeter of the house (namely, behind the sidewalk and in front of the porch), it’s important to generate visual interest with an assortment of plants. You’ll want to create an intricate balance of unique qualities that complement one another. Color, height, and species variations are an essential component of this.

 

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Variety truly is the key. Planting 30 of the exact same shrubs all in a row will make your home look like a steely corporate office instead of a warm, inviting space. This would be “a swing and a miss” in a major way.

 

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It’s OK to have a few of the same shrubs, but be sure to intersperse the landscape with plenty of other bushes, flowers, and small trees as well.

 

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2. Accent with Walls

If you have an uneven front yard with a slope on the side (like mine) or in the front, all hope is not lost! Creating a retaining wall with stones or sheetrock can keep your fabulous foliage intact.

 

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Not only does this provide a secure footing on a slope, but it also creates a distinct and eye-catching architectural structure. (Pro Tip: If you look closely at the above pictures, you’ll see that those same stones are also scattered throughout the landscape along the sidewalk to make the design cohesive.)

 

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3. An Island

Unfortunately, I’m not referring to the type of island that A-list celebrities own, but rather, a landscape island to cover up unsightly utility boxes.

 

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If you happen to have those eyesores in your front lawn, you can create an island with a small tree and a few shrubs to camouflage them. Putting mulch and plants in this area also eliminates the chance of those utility boxes getting run over by your lawn mower (not that I’ve ever come close to doing that…).

 

4. Potted Porch Plants

Potted plants provide an elegant touch, and even a sense of sophistication, for your front porch. Find large planters with an ornamental look, and fill them with two or three types of flowers, long grasses, and intricate leaves to give a polished finish to your landscape design.

 

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5. A Well-Manicured Lawn 

Last but not least is the crown jewel in your curb appeal – the front yard. Even though you have the most glorious-looking shrubs and flowers, if your lawn has overgrown grass, weeds, and unkempt edges, you may as well kiss your curb appeal good-bye.

 

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Having gorgeous grass is one of the most important components in creating curb appeal for your home. There’s nothing more distracting than a lawn that isn’t well maintained, as your front lawn is the red carpet (or “green carpet” if you don’t like Academy Award analogies) that ushers guests to the final destination – the front door (and hopefully inside)!

 

Even if you’re not looking to sell your home at the moment, we can all agree that a sense of happiness and greater well-being is always a plus. So do yourself a favor and implement a landscape design that’ll not only up your curb appeal several notches, but will melt away the stress too.

 

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What landscape design ideas have you used to turn your home into a mesmerizing masterpiece? We’d love to hear your creative ideas below!

 

*M.D. Velarde, G. Fry, M. Tveit (2007). Health effects of viewing landscapes – Landscape types in environmental psychology. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening 6, 199-212.

 

Images used with permission, courtesy of Kelly O'Roark

Next: Every Question to Ask Before Hiring a Landscape Designer