Curb Appeal: Some Common Errors

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 by Danny Peterson

Pretty soon the ice and snow will melt, the temperature will perk back up, and homeowners will get into gear for a little spring maintenance—getting their property looking its absolute best. This is what we call curb appeal, and it’s a critical part of home ownership: Investing in the external appearance of your property ultimately enhances its value, and it also helps you to take more pride in your home! There are right ways and wrong ways to approach curb appeal, however. Sometimes what seems like a good and prudent way to improve your home’s appearance actually minimizes its luster or leads to long-term headaches. Curb appeal, like any other aspect of homeownership, is something to approach strategically and prudently. But how? Start by reviewing our list of common curb appeal errors—and doing whatever you can to avoid them!

  1. Having a cluttered driveway or front yard is a big mistake, especially for those who are trying to sell their home. For one thing, it just makes the property appear disorganized and messy. There is an even bigger problem, though: When your front driveway is disorganized, it makes it seem as though your garage isn’t big enough to store everything you need, which is a turn-off to potential buyers.
  2. Some homeowners think the best way to make a strong first impression is to be “unique” in their curb appeal. This is actually not true, and having outdoor elements out of step with the rest of the neighborhood can in fact lower property values. You want your home to look nice, but not to stick out like a sore thumb. Painting it a color that makes it stand out too much, or investing in gravel when everyone else in the neighborhood has mulch, can be a mistake.
  3. Homeowners definitely want to get rid of dead plants and shrubs and to replace them with live ones. Don’t make the mistake of “planting” fake plants, though. Real estate agents and decorators agree: This is about as tacky as it gets!
  4. Here is another tip that is especially pertinent for those looking to sell. You may think that a lavish, complicated garden scheme is the way to go, but that’s not necessarily the case. Again, you definitely want your home, including lawn and garden, to look nice. What you don’t want is something that looks like it will be a nightmare to maintain. Simple and low-maintenance is always the way to go.
  5. On a related note: Be judicious in how you plant things. On the one hand, you don’t want to plant a shrub here and a shrub there, in such a way that they look sparse and kind of pitiful. Don’t spread your plantings too thin, but also don’t put them all together in one giant cluster. Avoid anything that looks overgrown.
  6. Perhaps the most significant curb appeal error of all is focusing so much on new stuff—new paint, new plants, or what have you—that you neglect basic repair work and maintenance. Scrubbing down your front porch, removing rust or loose nails, keeping things generally neat and tidy—that’s where most of your initial effort should go.

Enhancing curb appeal means different things for different homeowners. Maybe for you it means applying a new coat of paint; then again, it might also mean doing some work in the garden, pressure washing your front porch, or replacing your entry door. Do make sure you attend to curb appeal this spring—and that you avoid these errors while you do so.


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