10 Tips for Boosting Curb Appeal on a Budget
How to Increase Curb Appeal While Selling Your House
Selling your home can be expensive and stressful. You want your home to look good to potential buyers, but you don’t want to spend a ton of time, energy, and money redoing your landscaping.
Don’t worry—just grab your lawn mower and a few other tools and supplies! A little bit of lawn care and basic exterior cleaning can go a long way toward making buyers take a look at your house.
The checklist below contains affordable steps you can take to improve your home’s curb appeal while it’s on the market and even before.
1. Mow Your Lawn (The Right Way!)
Yes, curb appeal is important. As The Lawn Institute says, a well-kept yard can help raise your property’s value up to 20 percent.
One of the best ways to maintain your lawn is to mow it.
For most of us, the easiest course is to mow on a regular schedule. However, it’s better for your lawn’s health (and will save you a ton of time in the long run) if you mow it when it needs it.
If the weather’s been rainy, your grass might grow so tall that it needs to be mowed several times a week. If it hasn’t rained in a while, your grass might not need much mowing.
How do you know when you need to cut your grass? Check its height!
For most grasses, the ideal height during the growing season is between two to three inches, though the correct height depends on the type of grass (cool-season grass or warm-season grass) you have on your lawn.
Mow your grass at the right height. Grass that’s too long will look messy and neglected. Grass that’s too short will not only look difficult to maintain; it also won’t be able to process sunlight effectively and will be exposed to diseases and pests.
For added curb appeal, consider mowing stripes and other patterns into your grass.
2. Trim Your Lawn’s Edges
Want to show potential buyers that you pay attention to detail when taking care of your home? Use a string trimmer or an edger to trim the parts of your lawn that are hard to reach with a mower:
- Along fences
- Along flower and garden beds
- Along the curb
- Next to walls
Trimming the grass along walkways and driveway is especially important. The paths that lead to and from your house look best when they appear open, inviting, and ready to lead someone into their new home.
3. Clean Up Lawn Debris
You probably vacuum your carpets or sweep your floors before showing your home because you want buyers to see a tidy space. Why not sweep your lawn for the same reason?
Use your rake, a leaf blower, or a lawn sweeper to remove common bits of lawn debris:
- Food wrappers and other lightweight litter
- Grass clippings
In addition to making your lawn look neat, cleaning up debris also allows more sunlight to reach your grass.
4. Fertilize Your Lawn
Like mowing your lawn, fertilizing your lawn is a dependable way to get your lawn looking lush, green, and vigorous. Also like mowing your lawn, the best way to do it depends on the type of grass you grow.
Add fertilizer at the right time of year for your lawn:
- For cool-season grass: early fall is best; spring is a second choice
- For warm-season grass: late spring
If you have the time, try to start fertilizing your lawn at least six months before you put your home on the market. This gives your grass plenty of time to absorb those nutrients.
5. Water Your Lawn
You might not have time to fertilize your lawn before selling your house. However, if you’re selling it in summer, which is peak home-buying season, you will need to water your lawn.
On average, most types of grass need about one inch of water per week. That one inch of water is a total that can come from your sprinkler, from rainfall, or both.
An easy way to check how much water your lawn receives is to measure and mark the depth of a container like a food storage container and leave it outside in one spot while rain is falling or your sprinkler is running.
The best way to give your lawn the water it needs is to saturate it a few times a week to encourage deep root growth, instead of giving your lawn a little water at a time every day.
6. Weed Your Lawn
Mowing, fertilizing, and watering your lawn correctly help your grass look healthy and make it harder for weeds to grow.
When weeds do appear on your well-maintained lawn, however, they have the same effect as a muddy footprint on a freshly scrubbed floor: they make it look as if you did no work at all.
Removing weeds by hand is the most effective way to rid your lawn of weeds. Make sure you pull out the root as well as the stem, or else the weed will grow back.
If you’re pressed for time, you can apply a broadleaf herbicide. These chemicals work on broadleaf weeds like dandelions, but they can also harm common garden plants. Be careful, and always read the directions on the label!
7. Add New Mulch
The mulch you have in your landscaping beds can look faded and break down over time.
Add a new layer of fresh mulch over your existing mulch. Leave space around the bases of tree trunks and plant stems. Avoid piling the mulch in hills against tree trunks, or volcano mulching. It’s bad for your trees’ health!
One popular mulch material for visual appeal is pine bark, which allows other plants to stand out thanks to its dark color. For a more affordable option, choose materials like stones and pebbles.
8. Wash Exterior Structures
Clean on the outside, clean on the inside. A simple scrubbing is another way to make your house look fresh and well maintained.
Spray your windows with your garden hose, and wipe down your windowsills and front door with a wet sponge.
For harder surfaces that have acquired dirt and stains, such as your walkway or your home’s siding, a pressure washer might come in handy.
9. Grow Plants in Containers
Your house is on the market. It’s no time to be putting roots in the ground! But it is a great time to grow flowers and herbs in pots to create a warm, homey look.
Place your containers where the plants are likely to catch a potential buyer's eye:
- Next to your front door
- On your porch
- In windowsill boxes
Or, place them where you don’t want to draw attention. Plants in containers are excellent for hiding visually unappealing structures like gas meters and air conditioning units. Just make sure that the plants are kept a safe distance away from the structure.
10. Hang a Wreath
You don’t have to wait for winter to hang a wreath on your front door. A seasonally appropriate wreath adds a personal touch and tells potential buyers, “This home is well loved.” A wreath with vivid colors or unique components can also make your home stand out in a buyer’s memory.
You can buy a wreath from your local craft or outdoors store. For a piece of individual décor that’s a great conversation starter, consider making your own wreath.
Ready for a Closer Look
You can always take additional steps to boost your home’s curb appeal:
- Replace the mailbox
- Paint the front door
- Add new lighting fixtures
But a great-looking home starts with regular care, and the way you care for the outside of your house gives people an idea of how you care for the inside. With these easy, affordable curb appeal ideas, you make sure your home’s always ready to invite buyers inside.