By Jay Ladell
Our front yards create first impressions that are as vital for your house as they are for you. A beautiful street view of your house – called curb appeal – sends the message that you take care of your home.
A property with curb appeal helps sell homes faster and for more money. It also improves the streetscape and fosters a sense of community. An easy-to-maintain simple landscape will also increase the value of your home.
On a personal note, curb appeal provides numerous personal health benefits. For starters, you will feel good when you leave the house or return home to a welcoming yard. That is because we have emotional responses to our environment.
Simply put, a beautiful yard lifts our mood. For this reason, some hospitals create healing gardens for their patients. Views of natural scenes reduce negative emotions and stress. Gazing at vegetation lowers our alpha rates that are associated with being wakefully relaxed.
On the flip side, what does a poorly presented front yard do? An unattractive front yard does a lot of harm. For home sellers, it can sabotage a home sale, lengthen the time a house sits on the market and lowers the value of home.
A perfectly maintained home can look like it is falling into decay because of a neglected yard. Even the nicest house can appear plain and uninviting without inspired landscaping. Here are some things to look for:
- Does the front yard reflect the character of the home?
- Do the trees and shrubs have dead branches? Have they been pruned regularly to create good even branch structure, or are they unhealthy and overgrown?
- Is the pathway uneven or concrete and asphalt cracked?
- Have the weeds taken over or is the garden an untidy sea of green?
- Does water pool next to the house after a rain?
- Are there dead spots in the lawn where the grubs have invaded?
- Are landscaping walls falling over or unlevel?
- Is the hedge half-bare or has it morphed into a row of leggy trees?
- Is the fence rotted, rusted or leaning over?
- Is the yard tidy and clear of recycling bins, clutter and littler from the street?
What motivates homeowners to develop curb appeal? Some say it’s personal pride or a desire to make better use of their yard. Others are motivated to protect their home’s worth. It’s financially advantageous to landscape when you first move in. As trees and shrubs mature, they increase the value and appeal of your property.
Plus, you will reap the benefits of watching your garden grow and feel good each time you walk in the door, receive guests or chat with neighbours. Years or decades later, when it is time to sell, your landscape will be mature and your home will look warm and inviting.
Here are tips to show you how to turn an eye sore into eye candy:
- Start with a professional landscape design plan. A knowledgeable landscape designer will provide you with a look that is proportion with the size, style of your house, select easy-to-maintain plants, and offer crucial technical insight about materials, construction and drainage.
- Consider the view from both the street and inside the house.
- Create a pleasant path to your front door since it is the focal point of your house.
- Replace concrete with elegant paving stones. When budget permits, consider natural stone or high-end pavers – mix textures and colours to create design elements unique to your home.
Hire an expert to prune young and middle aged trees to encourage good structure and avoid future problems. Use an ISA certified arborist to prune mature trees for your safety and your trees’ health.
- Plant the right tree in the right place – far enough away from the house and driveway to avoid root damage, and away from utility lines and pipes.
- Invite visitors to your entry with a seating area or focal point (such as a fountain or sculpture) near the door
- Replace dated shrubs like rounded junipers, squared-off boxwood and topiaries with more natural, less fussy plants and bushes.
- Select plants that don’t need a lot of water and pruning. Add a variety of plants and bushes so you will have blooms in spring, summer and fall plus colourful branches in winter.
- Create groupings of perennial flowers so they peek out of flower boxes, pour out of hanging baskets, or dazzle in flowerbeds.
- Cover up dead spots. If you have a tree that stifles surrounding vegetation, add mulch around the tree base.
- Block views of garbage cans with plants or a screen; soften street noise with a fountain
- Place urns on either side of the front door and add a different arrangement for each season. Pussy willows, moss, daffodils evoke spring. In autumn, combine marigolds, berries, and grasses. Add colour in winter with dogwood and birch branches surrounded with pinecones and evergreens.
- Paint, varnish or even replace your front door.
- Replace tarnished door hardware, rusty mailboxes and update light fixtures.
If you wish to tackle the work yourself, do the work in stages, following your plan so you know what to do first. Remember, it always takes longer than you think. If you’d like to get the work done within a short period, hire a certified, reputable landscape design and build firm.
Whatever route you take, you will be creating beauty and bringing nature to your doorstep.
Article originally published in the O.S.C.A.R. newspaper