Boosting Your Curb Appeal

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

As a Realtor, I am constantly helping people prepare their homes to sell. One of the biggest things we talk about is "boosting curb appeal." I know it sounds like trendy TV fodder, but it really does make a huge impact.

-Did you know that mature trees can increase your home's value by up to 9%?
-Did you know that updating your exterior and having fresh paint and trim can increase your home's value dollar for dollar of what you spent?
-Did you know that having tidy landscaping and hedges can increase your home's value by up to 4%?

It really does make a big difference. And, more often than not, it's not something my clients have prioritized. My husband has an expression that I've come to love... "The best time to plant a tree was 10 years ago. The second best time is today." 

So, when it came to considering our own curb appeal, clearly we needed some work. While we plan to be in this house for a long time, we also know that landscaping and curb appeal improvements look best with age. So, as a gift to future us when we sell this house down the road, we decided to invest in exterior and landscaping updates right away.

We've already shared the biggest transformation of all -- painting our house. You can see all the before and afters on this post. But, the other huge thing our front lawn (and side and back lawn) needed was some major landscaping overhaul.

The previous owners didn't do much other than keep the tops of their shrubs and plants trimmed. Things were pretty overgrown, and it's been a lot to manage. Did you know plants have a lifespan? Most of ours are around 32 years old, so any work we did to cut them back would likely have killed them. So, we decided to go ahead and start tackling one space at a time, completing an area as we go. Below are some listing photos of what the house looked like when we bought it. See those car sized hedges on the left hand side of the stairs? They came up to my shoulders and leaned into the sidewalk like they were trying to eat you.


So, to give the house a little breathing room and start fresh, we decided to completely remove them. We got an electric chain saw and a strong hedge trimmer and Spenser started cutting them back. Once we had all the branches cut down to stumps, and cleaned up all the debris, we (he...) started digging up the stumps. Bless his heart, this was HARD work. Now that I know he can do it by himself we'll see if I chip in next time 😉😇 You'll see in these photos that during this project our house got painted, as well! 


Once Spenser had dug up all the roots, we started planning what we wanted to go back in its place. We live in a very traditional neighborhood with a lot of colonial style homes, so we were really drawn to the idea of a Japanese Maple. Plus, having a tree in this space would give us a little privacy from the street, as well! We found a beautiful 8ft maple at our local nursery and had it delivered.

When you're planting a tree, you want to make sure you follow the growth guidelines so you don't plant it too close to the home or other plants. The Japanese Maple needed to be at least 5 feet from the house and have a hole about twice as wide as the root ball. You can find this kind of information online if you are working with specific plants and wondering what the guidelines are. Following that allows them to have the most room to grow over time, without damaging your home or having to  move it later on.

We are novice "landscape designers," but both of us have a pretty good eye for what looks good together. Typically, we like to plant things that are hearty, perennial (meaning they come back year after year), and have a variety of colors. To balance out the blood red of the Japanese Maple, we added some vibrant greens with Abelia shrubs (my favorite, feathery, hearty, fast-growing shrub!) and some small grasses (not sure what they're called... sorry!). We also planted some small geraniums in front but we planted them a bit late so they haven't taken off like we'd hoped.

 You'll see in the photo below we also removed the shrubs along the right side of the walk way (the dirt spots are where we need to plant grass in the fall). And you won't be able to tell in the photo above, but this Crepe Myrtle sprung back to life from a complete stump! It was just a stump when we moved in and it's done all this growth in less than a year. We really love him and plan to keep him pruned so he stays a little pink shrub for years and years.

We definitely have other major landscaping updates as to do, but we are thrilled with how far this area has come. I'll be honest... we often feel overwhelmed by how much landscaping work is left to do. Landscaping is different than typical renovations where once you're done, you're done. They require constant maintenance, trimming, and watering. And if you ignore one area for too long, it can get out of control! But, we're committing to our process and so far it has been working for us. Starting fresh with new landscaping has also made it easier to see what remains to be done and set our priorities. 

As far as return on investment, this has definitely been some labor intensive, back breaking, heavy sweating work. Re-landscaping 30 year old vegetation is NOT easy. But, we know it's going to be worth it, in more ways that one. We recently had our house appraised for a refinance (holla interest rate drop!) and the appraiser gave us a $30,000 increase in property value... 6 months after buying it! I like to think a GOOD chunk of that came from just improving the curb appeal, alone. On top of that, we have had neighbors stop us on the street and actually thank us for what we've done to the house. One neighbor said she loves "looking out her window at our beautiful house now." I can't think of a better return on investment!

Since it's currently eleventybillion degrees in North Carolina, we won't be doing any more landscaping until fall, but I'm sure we'll have more updates then. For now, we're enjoying watching all our hard work take root and are excited for what changes fall will bring! 


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