If the imminent arrival of spring has you dreaming of ways to spruce up your front yard or garden, you’re not alone. According to data from Google Trends, when April rolls around, online searches for “curb appeal” spike fairly consistently as homeowners start to plan outdoor beautification projects for the warmer months.
Loosely defined as how attractive a property appears from the outside, curb appeal is influenced by a huge variety of external factors, from the size and color of your house to the condition of the sidewalk in front of it. But perhaps the biggest element that has an impact on curb appeal is your landscaping.
A well-landscaped yard and garden can highlight your property’s attributes, minimize its problems, and ensure that your home appears as inviting and appealing as possible when seen from the street. This not only helps increase your enjoyment of your own home; it also boosts its value: the National Association of Realtors estimates that properties with more curb appeal typically sell for 7% more on average than comparable homes with less curb appeal.
So how can you make sure that your landscaping choices are contributing as much as possible to your home’s curb appeal? These guiding principles can help.
Start with the house.
When planning your landscaping, it’s easy to start by focusing on questions like which exact flowers you prefer, or how big you want your lawn area to be. But it’s important not to get so caught up in the details that you forget about the main feature of your property: your house. The design and architecture of your home can and should influence your landscaping choices so that ultimately, your yard and garden complement and are in conversation with your house.
Keep context in mind.
Your landscape should not only be responsive to your house—it’s also important that it be responsive to your surroundings as well. Think about things like the character and history of your neighborhood, your local climate, how much sunlight your property gets, and other factors that are specific to your location, and take them into account when you’re making your landscaping choices. Of course, this is not to say that your yard and garden need to look exactly the same as your neighbor’s or that your own personal preferences aren’t just as important. It just means that looking at the big picture can be a help in guiding your design choices.
Work with the principles of concealing and revealing.
While landscaping elements are attractive in their own right, they can also be very helpful in revealing your home’s best features while concealing other attributes that aren’t as visually appealing. For example, in most homes, the front door is an obvious focal point that can be highlighted through landscaping additions like colorful seasonal flowers near the entrance, a curved pathway, or a front patio area. If, on the other hand, you’re stuck with unsightly features like a chain link border fence or a power utility box, you can disguise these using subtle plantings, such as fine textured evergreens, that don’t draw attention to themselves.
Plant big to small.
When you’re deciding which plants you want to include in your landscape, a good rule of thumb is to move from big to small: start with trees, then consider shrubs, perennials, and finally ground cover. Working your way down in size is helpful from a conceptual standpoint. When you have trees and other big forms in place first, it’s easier to visualize which other elements would help round out the design. It also allows you to avoid problems like figuring out how to plant a tree in the middle of an area that you’ve already covered with flowers.
Your landscaping should be working to boost your home’s curb appeal all year round, not just during the summer months. This means you need to think seasonally when making your landscaping choices in order to avoid creating a yard and garden that look beautiful in warm weather, but go dormant and appear barren when winter arrives. Consult with your landscaper or local garden center to make sure you’re incorporating a variety of plants that bloom at different times of year, so you’ll have colorful flowers and foliage to enjoy as long as possible. It’s also a good idea to include some evergreens to provide greenery and visual structure all through the year.
Keep it simple.
If the goal of your landscaping efforts is to boost your property’s curb appeal, keep in mind that simplicity trumps clutter every time. Too many types of plants, too many different colors, too many shapes and sizes: all this creates distraction, and takes away from the home itself and from any truly standout features in the landscape. Instead, hone in on one focal point, such as the front door, and keep the rest of the design clean and simple.