Curb Appeal on a Dime

Save money while you update your home's outdoor appearance by putting your dollars to work on high-impact projects.


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Add Container Plants
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Add Container Plants

    Turn your home's entry into an inviting focal point by adding few well-chosen and nicely arranged plants on the front porch will create an welcoming effect. Vary the plant and container sizes and arrange them on multiple levels.

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Get a Healthy Lawn

    One of the least-expensive improvements you can make to improve curb appeal requires two simple steps: First, apply a weed-and-feed treatment to ensure the grass has the soil nutrients it needs and doesn't have to compete with weeds. Second, sharpen your lawn mower blade regularly and cut the grass at or near the mower's tallest setting; cutting it too stresses grass.

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Renew Existing Planter Beds

    Add or replace perennials and sprinkle in flowering annuals to bring a mix of color, texture, form, and scale. Allow adequate space to accommodate the plants as they grow. Add new mulch often to keep the look fresh.

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Introduce Stone or Brick Edgings

    A shallow trench filled with pea gravel or sand makes a simple bedding surface for stones or bricks, which add color and texture.

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Use Solar or Low-Voltage Lighting

    Highlight pathways and trees with landscape lighting. It improves safety and can yield dramatic effects for your home's nighttime appeal.

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Restore an Asphalt Driveway

    Patch and seal the surface of your driveway, filling holes and cracks with asphalt patch. Apply fresh sealer to make a worn asphalt driveway look new again.

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Revive a Lawn with New Sod

    If your lawn is too unhealthy or choked with weeds, consider installing new sod. Remove the old lawn, lay new sod, and keep it well-watered for a few weeks.

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Update Materials

    Cheap-looking materials detract from a yard's appearance. For sloped areas that still need terracing, use cut stone or precast decorative wall blocks for an high-end look.

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Install a Prefab Trellis

    Use an arbor or trellis to give form to your yard and complement your plantings.

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Add Edging or a Colorful Stain

    Install brick edging and/or apply a colorful concrete stain to the surface to add character to a plain concrete driveway.

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Install Flowerbeds or Plantings

    The colors and textures of plants soften a driveway's expanse and make it look less utilitarian. Groundcovers and low-growing plants are best in beds along one or both sides of the driveway.

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Plant Trees

    Put in small ornamental trees if you're preparing the house for sale soon. If you're staying put, think long-term and try oaks, maples, honey locust, or other large and strong species suitable for your region. Consider fast-growing species or small ornamental trees, such as pagoda dogwood, redbud, flowering pear, river birch, or Japanese maple; these can add dramatic interest without requiring years to get established.

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Replace Old Walkways

    If a concrete walkway is in bad shape or is just as dull as dirt, replace it with a contoured path made entirely of stone or brick.

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Spruce Up the Paint

    This might mean simply touching up trouble spots or prepping and repainting the entire house. When repainting, take the opportunity to choose fresh colors and add an accent color to the paint scheme. Paint test patches before committing to a color scheme; some colors look great on a sample card but are too intense on a house.

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Replace Exterior Hardware

    Address numbers, mailboxes, locksets, and porch lights are perfect for upgrades. These elements are small but add a lot of finesse to your look. Keep the finishes consistent so the pieces look like an ensemble of accessories, not a batch of mismatched hardware.

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Upgrade the Garage Door

    Sectional doors can feature windows in an upper panel, and some higher-end versions can mimic the look of traditional carriage-house doors.

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Add or Restore Trim or Siding

    Detailing enhances a home's character, especially if the house boasts a specific traditional style, such as Arts and Crafts, Italianate, or Colonial. Period-correct detailing can make a big impact that it's more of a rarity on American homes. Wood shutters, knee braces under a gable roof, and multilayer exterior trim add depth, texture, and interest to a home's exterior.

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Install a New Storm Door

    A lot of homes are fitted with inexpensive aluminum screen doors that hide an attractive entry door. Newer storm-door designs offer larger glass panels, sturdier frames, and more color choices. If you don't have a storm door, paint the entry door with an accent paint color or clear varnish on wood.

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Prep the Porch

    If you're lucky enough to have a sizable front porch, use it to create a simple but inviting outdoor room. Group a comfortable bench and chairs to create a conversation nook. Keep the porch clutter free and open to cozy gatherings.

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