Broadening appeal of your home to the public is usually an exercise in increasing the legibility of your landscape; that is the ability to read your home in a glance that is pleasing, safe and understandable. There are many strategies that you can employ to enhance the curb appeal of a house. For selling appeal, a conservative refined approach that allows for flexibility for the next owner to make their personal impression is advisable for a house going to market. These steps can be minor and inexpensive, or more involved with the help of a professional.
Affordable, Short-Term Strategies
Simplification of the landscape can increase appeal by reducing the amount of visual noise in the landscape. In this strategy, less is more, and the effort is effective and inexpensive.
Clean, neat and trim, is a universal appeal that is easily achieved. This may sound elementary, but details can be overlooked that collectively add to the messiness of the landscape if not considered. Clean lines in edges along paved areas and lawn, along garden beds and lawn and any structures that meet lawn or gardens. Prune fruit trees and flowering trees, overgrown evergreens near buildings and walkways. Removing water shoots on flowering trees, or overgrowth on other trees or shrubs, the appearance is cleaner, and reveals the trees’ structural branching and bark in a more artful manner. Sometimes larger trees can cast too much shade on key areas, such as the entrance of the home. Strategic pruning can allow more light to brighten the space.
Consider removing plants as well as adding them. Some landscapes become overgrown and would benefit greatly by removing some plant materials. If adding plants consider repeating the same type as those that are already in existence. Whether removing or adding plant material, repetition of landscape patterns adds legibility to the landscape. If adding plants, use annuals that are in season. This allows some flexibility for the new owner to plant their own permanent plants and it adds instant color in areas of need. Refrain from the overuse of a variety of colors and reduce these locations to only highlight key areas, such as entrances. Usually three colors are enough to convey warmth and charm without becoming overbearing
Screening unsightly areas and opening views to beneficial landscapes can add considerable value to a property. Be aware of views both towards the home and from inside the home to the surrounding areas. Fences and evergreen shrubs are a common solution to hide utilities, drains, or views of unsightly areas off the property. When using shrubs or trees, avoid planting “soldiers in a row”; triangular planting patterns have a more natural look and are more effective in screening views from multiple angles. Identify key views from the curb towards the house to strategically frame the home. Don’t be afraid to limit some views as this can increase appeal by not exposing too much at once. Limited use of mystery, such as a turn in the bend of a long driveway, or a garden planting obstructing less important areas of the home can add interest to the home’s main feature, the entrance.
Some solutions may require more investment, time and the help of a professional. They can help identify solutions to problem areas such as drainage, safety issues, lighting and may offer simple cost solutions that may add more value to your home. Savvy buyers will spot water pooling against foundations that can cause damage to the home. Because we live in a region with darker seasons, smart lighting can lift up a home’s presentation considerably, especially north facing homes. Entrances and pathways at minimum should offer even lighting. Ambient lighting in key landscaped areas can add charm. Professionals may also offer novel solutions that add considerable value to a home. Many offer consulting services that can provide you a quick assessment of various layers of information: safety and security, planting design, lighting design, storm water management, soil remediation, universal access design, architectural and landscape structural design advice.
Whether you hire a professional or the DIY approach, being conscientious of the curb appeal of your home can shape a first impression for potential buyers.
Daniel Riedon is a Landscape Architect and lives in Kittery Point, ME.
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