Even if you can’t tell a tulip from a turnip at the garden center, you can still create eye-catching curb appeal by paying attention to the basics of good landscaping, especially front yard landscaping ideas.
Ignoring your front yard — or doing something that’s out of character with the neighborhood — can jeopardize the assessed value of your home.
Here are the top suggestions from real estate agents, appraisers, and landscape designers for boosting your yard's curb appeal.
#1 Plant a Tree
Determining the value of mature trees is particularly difficult. Healthy, mature trees add an average of 10% to a property’s value, according to the USDA Forest Service. In addition, by planting shade trees, you can save up to 20% on your summer energy bills. Expect to pay about $60 for a young, 6- to 7-foot deciduous tree.
You can make your own initial assessment of the value of your property’s trees by visiting the i-Tree Design calculator, which allows you to estimate benefits based on your street address.
Related: 11 Trees You Should Never Plant in Your Yard
#2 Green Up the Grass
If your house has a front yard, make sure it‘s neat and green by following a lawn maintenance calendar. You don’t want bare spots, sprawling weeds, or an untrimmed appearance.
“It’s so simple to go to Home Depot, buy fertilizer, apply it every six weeks, and water it,” says Mitch Kalamian, a landscape designer in Huntington Beach, Calif. “It will green up.”
If the yard looks really scruffy, you may decide to invest in some sod. Sod will cost about 30 cents to 83 cents per square foot, according to Fixr. If you hire a landscaper to sod your yard for you, labor will add 57 cents to 93 cents to the total cost of the project.
Another alternative is to plant low-maintenance turf grasses. Turf grasses are durable and drought-resistant. Five pounds of turf grass seed would cost about $33.
#3 Landscape Lighting
For homeowners who have made a sizable investment in landscaping, it makes sense to think about adding another 10% to 15% to the bill for professional outdoor lighting. After all, buyers aren't always looking at houses on a Saturday afternoon.
At the low end, installing a front or back porch light cost about $300 including materials and labor. Professionally installed landscape lighting averages $2,000 to $4,500.
#4 Colorful Planting Beds
Flower beds add color and help enliven otherwise plain areas, such as along driveways and the edges of walkways. In general, annual flowers are a bit cheaper but must be replaced every year. Perennials cost a bit more but come back annually and usually grow or spread with each growing season.
If you’re not sure what to plant, inquire at your local garden center. Often, they’ll have a display of bedding plants chosen for their adaptability to your area. Also, they‘ll be inexpensive because they’re in season, says Peter Mezitt, president of Weston Nurseries in Hopkinton, Mass. Try pansies in the summer, and asters and mums in the fall to add vibrant color. “That’s what we do around the entrance to our garden center,” Mezitt says.
Valerie Torelli, a real estate agent in Costa Mesa, Calif., who dresses up her clients’ yards to sell their houses faster and for more money, says she repots succulents from her own garden to put at homes she is selling. She also finds good deals on succulents at big box garden stores.