When it comes to houses, we get used to what we see every day. And what we see might not be what other people see. So every now and then, it’s a good idea to step back and take a critical look at your front yard landscaping.
Are the kids’ bikes organized or piled against the side of the garage? Is the shed painted or does it need work? How about that firewood tarp — has it seen better days? What about the gutters, windows, house numbers and shrubs? Make a plan, grab your spouse and kids, and make your home’s curb appeal overhaul a family project.
A neatly edged lawn is a thing of beauty. While landscapers often use their string trimmers turned upside down (check the instructions on yours to see if this is acceptable use), you can also get an edging machine. If you’ve never edged before, it’s kind of an acquired skill. And it can take a while to cut through the overgrown grass. Patience is a virtue. Clean up the mess with a broom and shovel, or backpack blower.
Lots of people use plastic edging around their garden beds. We prefer cutting a new edge with a garden spade and using the edge of the turf as the barrier. It provides a nice, clean edge to place mulch up to and is easier to maintain.
Reclaim bare spots and weed clumps with new grass. All you usually need is a metal tine rake, a hose and some seed. Water generously to get the seed to germinate and pretty soon your whole lawn will look better.
Clean it up
Remove debris and thin out overgrowth. Some projects might require a chainsaw, truck, dumpster, or other receptacle to get the extra detritus removed. Check with your trash removal company for bulk pickups.
Does your landscape look just like your neighbor’s? Not if you bring in some boulders. Rocks, big and small, are a great way to add texture and muted color to your curb appeal. They’re pretty much maintenance free, and if you get a rock with deep crevices, you can even plant stuff in there.
An easy front yard landscaping fix: Use a few split-rail fence posts and some rails, to create a beautiful “corner” where there was just a whole bunch of nothing. It’s a great way to create a barrier, add contrast, or introduce climbing plants to a barren area of the yard.
Did the tree service or previous homeowner leave a giant tree stump in your yard after removing an old tree? Tune into your inner macho, because the tool to get rid of that is a stump grinder. Rent it and rip it. You may also need a mattock to chop roots in or just below the ground during final cleanup. Don’t use a regular axe — at least one you want to keep sharp.
One of my favorite — and quickest – curb appeal ideas is adding a new storm or screen door. This simple switch gives your home a fresh look — one with the screen or window stored internally is ideal.
Introduce a pop of design and color to the front of your house. Paint the front door an unexpected hue. Replace those builder-grade brass house numbers. Add hanging plants or window boxes.
A new mailbox can do wonders for your home’s curb appeal. Design a custom mailbox post — or just get a new one from the store. We set them in concrete (helps them stay straight, even when the plow goes by in winter). We like Western red cedar for this project — it’s natural, stable, and ready for life outside. While you’re at it, trade the basic black mailbox for a colored one and plant a flower bed around the base.
I’ve cleaned really dirty windows before — some that didn’t even seem that dirty — and the house literally gets brighter. It’s like magic. If it’s been a couple of years, give it a try.