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    4 Landscaping Ideas for Instant Curb Appeal

    There’s no doubt, investing in your landscaping as preparation to sell your home is going to pay off. The figures vary slightly, but improving the overall curb appeal to attract the best buyers is easily going to earn your return on investment, and potentially more.

    Take a look at these examples of common landscaping upgrades.

    The 2016 National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) Remodeling Impact Report suggests a typical installation that includes a front walkway of natural flagstone, two stone planters, five flowering shrubs, one tree that loses the leaves in the fall (think colorful varieties) and new mulch, adds up to a ROI of $5,000, or 105%, after spending the initial $4,750, as estimated by the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP).

    The second most common and cost beneficial landscaping upgrade is the addition of a patio or deck. Not only do these projects provide high quality of life scores, they can be counted on to improve your ROI; 102% to be exact. With an initial $6,400 spent, the NAR predicts a possible recovery of $6,525.

    Decks and Porches Add Instant Curb Appeal


    But what other outdoor improvements will instantly add to your home's curb appeal when it comes time to sell? 

    4 Landscaping Ideas for Instant Curb Appeal When Selling Your Home

    4 Landscaping Ideas for Instant Curb Appeal

    Factoring Military Life into a Landscaping Plan

    Military life doesn’t always allow for these kinds of investments into landscaping, however. Tight timelines often prohibit a profitable sale or a difficult selling atmosphere in your neighborhood might take these improvements beyond your monetary comfort zone. But, because curb appeal is so crucial to draw in buyers and even renters, it cannot be ignored. Perhaps a new patio isn’t in the budget, but plenty of sweat equity and reasonable updates are.  

    Updates are also very tied to your timeline for selling or renting. If you anticipate moving in a year, installing an outdoor fireplace or fire pit brings plenty of enjoyable quality time with the family, but probably won’t meet 100% ROI. But, if you return to your dream home after housing tenants for a couple of years, the custom fireplace will be a joy to come back to.

    Preparing a Landscaping Plan

    It is practical to assess your yard’s needs for improvement by breaking them down into groups. Using the categories of Hardscaping, Softscaping, and Decorative Accessories helps to plan your purchases and visualize the elements you need. Categories also serve to manage predetermined budgets.

    It must be said that more and more buyers are looking to buy homes with cost cutting and environmentally friendly landscaping. Keep these qualities in mind when shopping for materials, ensuring their lifespan is long to avoid yearly maintenance.

    Landscaping for Instant Curb Appeal

    When shopping for plants and trees, consider species that require less watering. In the same sense, if an irrigation system is required, a water saving and energy efficient system is a big selling feature to share with potential buyers.

    Although most of these projects can be done with limited landscaping experience, if time is of the essence, a professional crew can likely knock the projects out in far less time than novice weekend DIYers.

    1) Hardscaping

    It's easy to think of hardscaping as the hard components of landscape elements. Items like decks, patios, outdoor kitchens, and stone walkways.

    Mother nature is a force to be reckoned with, and she’ll leave her mark on your existing landscape elements. Whether it's wear and tear or general grime, it all has to be spruced up to measure up to any newly installed features. Buyers are looking for move-in ready, and won’t be interested in spending time and money to power wash surfaces after they move in.

    Clean and/or repair:

    Clean Up Hardscaping for Curb Appeal

    The desire to extend living spaces outdoors continues to drive the landscape industry. If a substantial investment into a deck or patio project is necessary, define the purpose of your additional outdoor space to maximize your investment dollars. Will the space be used for relaxing or meditation, or is it more likely to be used an entertaining area?

    A note about swimming pools; they are an expensive risk for most locales but are mandatory in some parts of the U.S. to entice buyers. It’s considered to be a negative attribute and pretty much unheard of for a home in Arizona or Florida not to have a pool, and a high-end pool at that. In many other states, home pools are turn-offs to buyers for numerous reasons: upkeep costs, safety, and liability issues top the list.

    Again, your personal timeline and enjoyment factor could overrun a mathematical equation for ROI. The NALP says new pool costs reach $50,000, and owners can expect to recoup about 50% of the expense.

    For a multi-purpose driven landscape project, chose to install a masonry or flagstone surround around an existing tree or a newly planted garden bed. The eye-pleasing update will be noticed, and the surround could provide extra seating for guests.

    2) Softscaping

    Softscaping encompasses living elements like lawns, trees, shrubbery and flower gardens.

    Just like the hardscaping elements, the living elements have to be cleaned and improved to offer buyers the look they are shopping for.

    • Clean pots and containers
    • Shape shrubbery
    • Weed beds and discard dead plants
    • Plant colorful annuals

    Softscaping Adds to Your Home's Curb Appeal

    Two of the top features in landscaping buyers are immediately attracted to are 1) the amount of shade that covers the house and 2) the condition of the lawn.

    Shade not only is far more comfortable to sit in, but from a cost saving perspective, shade keeps the home at cooler temperatures during the heat of the summer. Although you won’t be able to immediately provided shade cover from mature trees towering over the home, there are other ways to make the outside more comfortable. Temporary and retractable canopies are becoming more popular and cost accessible. Tall potted trees and fencing covered in shade plantings accessorize a rustic pergola easily.

    A barefoot worthy lawn basically speaks for itself. The more lush and green, the more curb appeal it provides. A beautiful lawn doesn’t come quickly, and professional landscapers who install sod might be the only way to get the look you need before an open house. But if time is on your side and you have the energy to tend to a lawn that attracts buyers, be prepared to not only maintain the cut, but aerate, rake, feed, and edge the grass on a regular basis.

    Instant color comes from potted plants in decorative containers as well as garden beds. Take these colors to the next level and coordinate them with the colors of your outdoor finishings like cushions and rugs. Salsa and pizza gardens aren’t just colorful, but they provide ingredients needed for two of the most beloved snacks. Perfectly suited for pots on decks, kids and guests will be quick to jump at the chance to pick the food they’re about to eat.

    Potted Herbs Add Charm to Your OutdoorsPhoto by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

    For a clean and upscale effect, line garden beds with substantial edging. You’ll have to invest in durable materials like aluminum, fiberglass, or steel because the lesser quality options appear amateurish. Buyers are also impressed by gardens and yards that invite insects and creatures that encourage a more natural look and feel. Pollinator gardens that support wildlife are an example.

    Open houses are designed to wow home shoppers, so take gardening to the next level and label plants in your garden and containers to create an identification and picture book for potential home buyers. Those with a green thumb will be particularly impressed that they won’t have to research which varieties grown well in your yard. Those without a green thumb will be relieved to have easy to read information on maintenance.

    3) Decorative Accessories

    Outdoor furniture, rugs, and personal creature comforts are examples of decorative accessories, but really the options are limited only by a budget and personal preferences.

    chuttersnap-338068-unsplashPhoto by chuttersnap on Unsplash

    Determining logical focal points within your landscaped areas is a great place to start with decorative items, especially if the budget is limited in hopes of selling quickly. An outdoor fireplace with a mantel requires an item or two to look as though the space is used regularly and lovingly.

    To feel inviting, back decks and patios with outdoor furniture should feel comfortable, and not forced into tight perimeters. Consider scale and the available space before purchasing oversized outdoor sectionals which are to rearrange. Pillows, rugs, side, and coffee tables are musts for entertaining and the ease of guests. Lantern, torch, or overhead lighting are also decorative items that finish the space.

    4) Front and Back Entries

    Although technically not landscaping, the front entry in particular promotes another chance to catch the eyes of potential buyers. Cleaning and updating components of the porch and doors gives off the impression of a well-kept home. New paint for the door, improved house numbers, and a cleaned light fixture are inexpensive updates.


    But what really makes the porch pop from the street view is the look of luxurious and layered plants. Hanging, potted, and container plants, especially with colorful blooms, are low cost improvements that when joined with other landscaping elements, provide the complete picture of a home worth of full asking price.

    Home selling is a challenge, especially for military families with individualized time and location restraints. Keeping up with the latest landscaping trends that attract a variety of buyers should be something that as homeowner, you keep on eye on, especially as you begin to map a future beyond your current home.

    Maintaining a beautiful yard and incrementally adding improvements during your time in residence and as your budget allows keeps the pace flowing forward, so a mad scramble to wow buyers isn’t necessary when the time comes to list the house for sale.

    For more home selling advice, follow MilitaryByOwner’s blog. You’ll find tips not only for first time property owners, but for seasoned movers who simply need new and creative ideas for putting their home’s best image forward.

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    Dawn M. Smith


    Dawn M. Smith

    Dawn is a real estate and military life writer who has a serious HGTV habit. When she is not writing, her teen daughter, Army husband, and golden retriever keep her busy through chauffeur duties, travel planning, and long dog walks. Dawn is pleased to share her experiences with MilitaryByOwner readers who are hoping to simplify military family journeys of all kinds. Follow Dawn on Pinterest for more ideas and resources and visit her site at Dawn M. Smith Custom Content Creation.

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