Curb appeal is the walk-by or drive-by appeal of a home. Typically, it consists of the landscaping and general maintenance of a home as seen from the street. Everyone has a home they love in their own neighborhood, usually because the home looks well-tended and cared for. Curb appeal is especially important to those considering selling or renting out their home. Landscaping can be an expensive undertaking, as can other curb appeal tricks like replacing old doors. For example, replacing a home’s front door can range from a few hundred dollars up to tens of thousands of dollars depending on the door chosen. Simply repainting the front door, though, can vastly improve a home’s curb appeal for very little cash. Landscaping is much the same: Hiring out landscaping jobs costs between $4 and $12 per square foot on average, while remodeling jobs cost around $40 for each square foot. Luckily, it’s possible to upgrade your home’s landscaping for much, much less.
Plant With a Plan
The cost of plants can add up if you are trying to establish several new beds at the same time. That’s why it’s important to sit down and create a plan for where exactly you want flowers and what areas of your yard will have the greatest impact on curb appeal. You should prioritize planting in areas that are either seen from the curb or are visible outside the windows you spend the most time looking through. A landscape plan lets you map out your property and carefully plan exactly where you want every piece of shrubbery to end up. It keeps you from making expensive mistakes and ensures that every dollar you spend works with your long-term goals for the property. It also lets you identify areas where you can spend a little money and make a great impact. For example, planting a few annuals and perennials around the base of your mailbox can greatly improve your curb appeal for very little money and effort.
Mature trees and shrubs are beautiful and make an immediate impact when planted. However, that impact comes with a higher price tag. If you don’t have a lot of money to invest in your yard, consider investing time. Instead of purchasing trees and shrubs that have been grown in a nursery, buy saplings and small plants. You’ll spend time and energy caring for them, but over time you’ll end up with impressive trees and shrubs. Along with looking nice, carefully planted trees can help reduce the amount of energy your home uses. Full-grown trees help reduce both heating and cooling bills by providing shelter from the elements.
Think About Lights
Outdoor lighting is beautiful and can make a big difference in how your yard looks and even how it works for you and your family. Lighting can allow your family to use your yard in the evening hours for dinners and hanging out. But it also can get expensive fast. One estimate states that the average outdoor light fixture costs more than $300, once you add up the cost of the fixture and installation. There are much less expensive options that will still light up your yard, though. One is hanging string lights across frequently used areas of your yard. String lights are fashionable at the moment and also provide a good amount of ambient lighting. If you are more concerned with lighting along walkways, check out your local dollar store: They often carry solar lights on spikes meant for use next to sidewalks and other paths.
Spread Some Mulch
Mulch adds instant polish to any flower bed, no matter how small or sparsely planted it may be. Along with looking nice, it also offers protection to your plants by locking in hydration and helping to fight weeds. Sometimes, you can find mulch for free in the form of wood chips or even organic yard waste like grass clippings. Even purchasing mulch isn’t a large expense, however. Pine straw is typically quite inexpensive, and even buying wood mulch for an average-sized garden of around 500 square feet should cost less than $200.
Build a Walkway
Walkways add style and protection to your yard. They naturally draw the eyes to features of your yard you want people to see and enjoy, entice people to move around the yard, and protect your grass and flowers from people walking on them. While asphalt, brick, and some stone walkways could cost a lot of money, this is a place where being willing to do some low-skill but labor-intensive DIY will save you a bundle and make a huge impact on your space. Stepping stones can be purchased for as little as a buck each at big-box hardware stores, and they only require you to lay them along your desired path. Planting along the edges will give the walkway a polished look.
Consider Window Boxes
Window boxes add immediate style and appeal to both the landscaping and architecture of your home. They can draw attention to your windows and add some color to the front of your home. Much like shutters, it’s important to get window boxes that are the correct size for your windows and your home. It’s easy to build window boxes, but most home improvement stores also carry affordable boxes ready for installation. Another nice benefit to hanging window boxes and filling them with your favorite flowers is that you’ll be able to easily enjoy the view of the flowers from inside your home.
Get Creative With Landscaping at an Apartment
Living in an apartment doesn’t mean that you are condemned to a life without flowers. If your apartment offers any outdoor space, like a balcony or even a small area by the front door, you can maximize it by putting out potted plants and even going vertical. Vertical planters take up very little wall space but allow you to maximize the number of plants you can have. It’s possible to DIY a vertical garden that suits your space perfectly. Of course, it’s important to check your lease or homeowner’s agreement to make sure that your gardening doesn’t break any rules. For those in apartments without outdoor space, it’s possible to start a garden in your windowsills that will still give your apartment a little curb appeal and increase your own enjoyment of the space.
Consider Portability When Landscaping as a Renter
If you rent your home, that shouldn’t stop you from landscaping the space to maximize your own enjoyment of it. Here, the frugal trick is going to be to invest in things you can take with you when you move out. First, check the lease and talk to the property owner if you need to to make sure that everyone is one the same page. Then, start thinking about plants and landscaping pieces you can buy now and take with you later. It’s probably not a good idea to install a porch swing on a house you don’t own but a fine idea to pick up some second-hand outdoor rockers. And container gardens allow you to plant annuals and perennials and take them with you.