Real Estate Investing Basics

Landscaping: 4 Tips to Instantly Improve Your Yard’s Curb Appeal

Expertise: Real Estate Investing Basics, Real Estate News & Commentary, Personal Development, Flipping Houses, Landlording & Rental Properties, Personal Finance
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landscaping-tips

“Lush landscaping, that’s what sells [houses]. You spend money on trees, and you get it back triple.” –Charlie Munger

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The name Charlie Munger may not ring any bells with you, but you've probably heard of his business partner, Warren Buffett. Together, they have been making billions of dollars since just about the dawn of time. A little known fact is that Munger made his first million in real estate.

When you buy a house to fix up, you are usually looking at the inside. I drool over the 1970’s and 1980’s kitchens. I don’t think there was an uglier time for interior decorating, and I am oh-so-happy to rip out the old and bring in the new.

My own house was an absolute disaster. The inside was ugly, but the outside was even worse! Horribly overgrown (and some even outright dead) trees and shrubs, patchy scrubby grass and–pièce de résistance–lava rocks. Not the cooler, black-colored lava rocks, the ugly red ones.

Here are a few tried-and-true, easy landscaping ideas that can dramatically alter your home’s appearance.

Landscaping: 4 Tips to Instantly Improve Your Yard’s Curb Appeal

Make a Landscaping Plan

I wanted to keep a unified look in my yard, so I decided on a color scheme–pink and purple because I have two daughters. I went to the lawn and garden department of the big box home improvement stores and found a lot of plants to fit my theme.

Related: 8 Expert Tips for Renovating the Exteriors of Your Buy & Holds

Go Vertical

My yard is about 2-1/2 feet above the sidewalk and surrounded by a rock-and-cement wall, which is actually prettier than it sounds. But once I cut away all the dead, dying and overgrown original landscaping  (much of which couldn’t be saved because they were Junipers that cannot be trimmed), I was left with a fairly bare canvas. I wanted to keep some grass, but not very much.

I outlined the front yard with a wavy-edged border to keep it interesting. Next, I added height by filling in the border with mounds of dirt. I covered the whole thing with landscape fabric to try and keep out the weeds, then I placed all my newly purchased plants around the yard to make sure I liked how it looked before I dug holes in the wrong spot.

Use Lots of Color

I live in Colorado. A common misconception about Colorado is that it snows all the time. We are actually a high desert, which means very little precipitation. In order to conserve water, I xeriscaped my property—landscaping that uses little or no water.

I was not very excited to do this at first. I thought I would be stuck with unattractive brown grasses and other plants without flowers, but I found some gorgeous greenery for my yard that is absolutely blooming with color.

My favorite is the Salvia. It bushes out with vivid green leaves and tall stalks of violet flowers. The plants attract bees and hummingbirds to make your yard positively hum.

landscaping-ideas-Salvia

Another favorite are Snapdragons. They come in almost any color you could imagine and produce copious amounts of blooms.

landscaping-design-Snapdragons

Imagine my surprise when I found a purple ornamental grass called Purple Fountain Grass. Of course I bought them, but instead of just winging it, I actually read the instructions for planting them. The teeny plants I bought said to plant them 3 feet apart. I did, but thought they looked silly spaced so far out. I’m really glad I followed directions because these guys got HUGE by the middle of the season!

landscape-ideas-Purple Fountain Grass

Perennial Favorites and Other Tips

Another thing to think about is how much time you want to spend digging in the dirt every year. While I enjoyed making my yard look great, I was ecstatic when I was finished. I certainly didn’t want to do this amount of work every year. I purchased mostly perennials–plants that come back year after year. I do supplement with annuals  (the ones you have to plant every spring), but my yard is mostly filled with plants I only have to plant one time.

Find plants that do well in your neck of the woods. Advice is only as far as a Google search away. Most state universities have extension programs to help guide you to native plants.

Related: 6 Clever Ways for House Flippers to Save Big on Remodeling Supplies

If you want to save even more money, start a bit earlier in the season from seed. Seed packs are far less expensive than plants.

Walk around your neighborhood for ideas. I am not a landscape designer, and I am new to the area. My family takes nightly walks through the neighborhood, and we brought our cameras with us to take pictures of favorite plants. A quick consult with the local nursery told us about the plants and their water needs and matched them up with our general landscape design. The results speak for themselves.

before-after

Our Yard Looks Great, Now How About You?

My house is located in the middle of my street. We have been extensively remodeling it for the last two years. People walk down my street all the time and whenever I am out, I am showered with compliments about the house in general and the landscaping specifically.

I only spent about $700 to landscape the whole property, but I have easily added three times that in value.

[Editor’s Note: We are republishing this article to help out our newer readers.]

What is your favorite plant to add to your landscape? What landscaping tips would you add?

Leave your comments below!

Mindy Jensen has been buying and selling homes for more than 20 years. She buys houses, moves in, makes them beautiful, sells them, and starts the process all over again. She is a licensed real est...
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    Derek Mcdoogle
    Replied over 3 years ago
    In your article, you stated that if you want to save even more money, start a bit earlier in the season from seed and seed packs are far less expensive than plants. My wife and I are wanting to add some landscaping features to our property and someone suggested that we add some flower gardens. I wonder if there are certain flowers that are native to our community that might thrive on our property.
    Alice Jones
    Replied over 3 years ago
    I loved how you incorporated pictures into your blog post! It made your descriptions of your landscaping project have life. Although you hated your lava rocks, I think added a type of rock landscape feature to your lawn would look really good!
    Larry
    Replied over 3 years ago
    I like your idea to use a wavy border. Framing has a big impact on perception. I might have to try something like that after I get a lawn service to clean up my new yard.
    Andrew Syrios Residential Real Estate Investor from Kansas City, MO
    Replied about 3 years ago
    It’s amazing how much a little landscaping brings a property to life. It’s essential for both selling and renting. Great tips!
    Dean Hamilton from Kaysville, Utah
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Stark difference, Mindy. Nicely done!! and great tips too
    Kyrstin Szewczyk Investor from Seattle, Washingtin
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Thanks for the article! Another nice thing to do is go local. My yard has a lot of plants that don’t need a lot of water and you plant once but also that are mostly local, so they thrive in the climate. Seems simple but so many things are sold locally that don’t actually thrive locally.
    Marilou Ancheta from Clovis, California
    Replied over 1 year ago
    These are great!
    Teagin Muller
    Replied over 1 year ago
    I like your point about staging your landscape with flowers that make your lawn pop. Keeping in mind as to whether or not to use perennials or annual flowers. I also like that you mentioned to use a lot of color to make your landscape stand out.