As we begin to spend more time outdoors this summer, we may notice that the curb appeal of our house and yard may leave something to be desired! With the current economy, we may not have the money available to hire a professional landscape artist or to have the exterior of our house refinished, but there are a few simple things you can do to give your house more curb appeal.
A well-manicured yard will improve the appearance of any home.
You don’t have to have the most lush, green lawn; just keeping it mowed regularly and pulling weeds from around the foundation gives your home a neat, well-kept appearance. Rake sticks and last fall’s leaves out of the yard, away from the foundation, and out of flower beds. A few leaves add nutrients to the soil, but a heavy mat of them will harm the grass beneath them.
Well-placed and carefully considered ornamental plants add beauty to the landscape. You don’t need to run out to the nursery and buy expensive plants to add interest to your landscape. Many beautiful trees, shrubs, and flowering plants can be grown from cuttings or starts from a neighbor’s or friend’s landscape plants (be sure to ask first, don’t just help yourself!). Hosta and ferns are easily divided from the parent plant and will fill in empty spaces in your yard where nothing else will grow. Ground covers are good for dressing up steep slopes and banks (and save you the trouble of mowing these difficult spots), and can fill in the empty spaces around tree roots.
Give your house a bath.
You may be able to borrow a power washer from a friend or rent one for a few hours. If you’ve never used a power washer before, practice in an inconspicuous area first until you get the hang of it. Pressure washers make removing dirt, mildew and moss a much easier job, but take care to keep the spray at least 12″ away from the surface you are cleaning. The powerful spray may ripple soft wood or blow old mortar out of the joints between bricks.
Mildewed wood will require a pre-cleaning with a solution of bleach and water. Wash down the mildewed area with a brush, then blow the bleach solution away with the pressure washer. Moss doesn’t require any special pre-treatment, just blow it away with the spray. Don’t spray windows with the power washer; you may break them! Use the regular garden hose sprayer instead.
If you can’t borrow a power washer and don’t want to pay to rent one (about $50 for 4 hours), a long-handled brush will work. Scrub the outside walls of your house down with an environmentally-safe cleaning solution designed for use on the particular exterior (wood, brick, or type of siding) of your house, then use the garden hose with a jet sprayer to rinse it off.
Fresh paint can do wonders!
Repaint peeling door and window trim to give your home a neat and well-kept appearance. It’s amazing what a fresh coat of paint will do to make your home more presentable. Even if you can’t afford to repaint the entire house, a freshly painted front door will help your home make a better first impression on visitors.
The same goes for wooden fences and lawn furniture–give them a fresh coat of paint. The paint will also help protect wooden features from weathering and rotting so you won’t need to replace them as often.
Add a yard ornament or two
Notice that I said one or two! A yard full of kitschy yard ornaments doesn’t impress anybody; it just looks tacky. Please get rid of the bending-over-gardening-lady!
It’s simple to make your own attractive (and tasteful) yard ornaments. A weathered old bucket, basket, or half-barrel tilted on one side with flowers spilling out is a delightful way to decorate your yard. Petunias or other trailing flowers are especially pretty when planted this way. Create a planter from the kids’ old red wagon or a small wheelbarrow. Use your imagination to use found treasures as lawn ornaments.
You don’t need to have the biggest house on the block, or a big pile of money in the bank, to have a home with lovely curb appeal. A home and yard that are neat and well cared-for will let passers-by and visitors know that you love and care for your humble home!