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

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Landscaping_Curb_Appeal

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

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.

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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.

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

Leave your comments below!

About Author

Mindy Jensen

Mindy has flipped numerous homes in the past 10 years, one at a time and doing much of the work with her husband. She lives in Longmont, CO, and is always looking for an ugly duckling to turn into a swan.

53 Comments

  1. Cordell Martin

    Good article, thanks! I live in PA so results may vary but…
    -I like wavy petunias as an annual…fairly hardy, covers ground quickly and makes a cheap/nice hanging basket
    -Ferns and hastas for shady spots that need cover – plant once
    -bulbs like tulip, daffodils and the hastas or cedum sync up nicely in the spring – as the tulips die, the other plants are breaking ground…only plant them once
    -Miracle-Gro potting soil works well all season, no need to fertilize extra…plant once…

    • Mindy Jensen

      I add wavy petunias to my plant pots, but they don’t come back every year, unfortunately. They do look great, while they last, though. And they fill in quickly.

      Hosta’s are awesome, but I have a very sunny yard so they don’t do well here, but they are wonderful big bushy plants for shady spots.

      Thanks for reading, Cordell.

  2. Steven Donovan

    I purchased mostly perennials — plants that come back year after year.

    I’m 100% with you on this one, I want my landscaping to look great, but not be constant maintenance. The purple/blues are a fan favorite at our rental.

  3. I have been redoing some landscaping in my yard, and it has been difficult to feel confident about decisions when I don\’t have much experience in this area. Thank you for your advice about going vertical! I hadn\’t considered this before, but I can definitely see how it would make it more picturesque. I really appreciate your detailed advice and direction on this particular subject!

  4. I have always thought that yards with a big variety of color look amazing. It really shows the time and effort they put into making their yard look good. I was planning on redoing my yard this week. So I will definitely keep in mind how important it is to use different colors.

  5. I would love to have my yard look like the pictures on this article. Maybe I should make some phone calls to some pros and ask for some help. I\’ve never done landscaping before, so I need to make sure I do it right.

    • Mindy Jensen

      Thanks for your kind words, Caleb. Those pictures at the bottom of the article are of my front yard.

      I am very much a DIY gal, and this was my first all-by-myself landscaping project. After I built up the dirt mounds around the edge of the yard, and covered them with landscaping fabric to help block the weeds, I placed the plants around the yard – still in their pots – to get a feel for how it would look before I dug the holes. I rearranged the pots I didn’t like, and once I felt the yard looked good, I started digging holes.

      Each plant should come with directions on how deep to dig the hole, how large it grows and how far apart to space the plants. I think you can do it!

  6. I think that picking a color scheme when planning your landscaping is a great idea. The past few seasons, I have just planted what ever flowers and shrubs I liked, but now my garden is all mismatched and uneven. This year, I plan on sticking to shades of purple and sage green. The uniform look of the plants should really make a nice border around my yard.

  7. These are some great tips, and I love your advice to use a lot of color. My garden is a little bit drab, dominated by lots of shrubs and bushes, so I’ve been wanting to do something to make it pop. I’ll definitely look into planting some snapdragons, because I love the look and colors of those. Thanks for the great post!

  8. The yard in the first picture looks so great! I really like how the pink flower bed is shaped. I spent a lot of my summer trying to landscape, but my yard doesn\’t look nearly as lush as this one. Maybe if I added more color by expanding the garden, my yard could look like this picture.

    • Mindy Jensen

      Ashley, I have found that practice makes perfect.
      Those look like petunias, which are great in sunny spots. Impatiens are awesome for shade, although they require more water than I like. They make a great shaped hedge as well.

  9. My wife really likes sunflowers, but I have told her how hard they are to keep up with, what are some flower suggestions with bright yellow colors instead of sunflowers? Also, thank you so much for taking the time to post these landscaping tips, I am from Utah originally and we take pride in our yards!

    • Mindy Jensen

      Black-eyed susans are almost a weed so they’ll grow anywhere. They look like baby sunflowers.

      I had some success with giant sunflowers in my front yard. I just planted them and did nothing. They had very thick stalks that supported themselves.

      Snapdragons also come in yellow…

  10. I\’m not the best at landscaping, I can admit it. So, I appreciate articles like this which can help me get started and point me in a good direction. I like what your tip to use a lot of color. I\’ll look more into that Salvia plant and see if we can put it into our yard.

  11. I really, really liked the tip you give to go vertical with landscape design. You talk about how it can be beneficial to add height to your flower beds, which is something that I had never thought about before. Since I don’t have a big yard to begin with, I think that taking into consideration this suggestion I could add a lot of design to my yard by going vertical and increasing the aesthetics and value of my home. Thank you for sharing!

    • Mindy Jensen

      I love lilacs! We had to cut all our bushes down at our new house because they have become overgrown and were too close to the house. So sad.

      I don’t know how to battle little black bugs, I haven’t had to deal with that. I’d ask at the local garden center – they’ll know how to handle the bugs in your area. Good luck!

  12. It is interesting that you found plants that were colorful, but still well suited to the desert environment. I live in a similar area, and I always find colorful flowers that need a lot of water. This next year, I’d like to remedy that, so I really appreciate your suggestions of plants that have color and don’t require tropical amounts of water. I will be looking into all of your tips, thank you!

  13. Your yard does look great. I only hope that I can make similar progress with my yard. One thing I hadn\’t thought of was coming up with a plan before I began landscaping. My plan was just \”do landscaping.\” I\’ll try to follow in your footsteps and come up with a color scheme etc. before I do anything, thanks.

  14. I like your landscaping ideas! especially the idea of using a lot of color. We just put some new kerbing in to our yard to create some garden areas. I think if we add some flowers and bushes it will be a great addition to our yard. Thanks for the great advice.

  15. My wife and I are wanting to move soon, so we’d like to increase the curb appeal of our home. The problem is is that we aren’t sure how to do this. That being said, I really appreciate you giving me some insight about this and letting me know of some ways I can best increase the curb appeal of my home. I’ll be sure to follow your insight and see how that helps. Thanks a ton for your help.

  16. That before and after picture with the upgraded landscape really helps to prove your point. I grew up in the Northwest, and it was a temperate rain forest. You could do a lot with plants to help improve your landscape and home appeal. My current home could certainly use some help in this department…

    • Mindy Jensen

      Thanks, Adam.
      The difference between before and after is astonishing! It doesn’t look like the same house, and anytime I am outside and someone walks by, they comment on how much of a change we have made to it.
      Thanks for reading!

  17. Hey Mindy,

    I did not realize this was from you!!! Scrolling down through the article, I thought to myself, that house sure looks familiar!!!! Yes, it did look wonderful last grow season…keep up the beautiful, but hard work. Great tips!!

    MJ

  18. My wife and I are trying to figure out how to make our yard look better. We are first time yard owners so we are pretty stupid when it comes to understanding what works and what doesn’t. This helped a ton and I hope that we can make a good plan on what we hope our yard to look like.

  19. Thanks for the article! I was surprised that you suggest to go vertical with the landscaping. Having the color and plants show at eye level is actually a really great idea. I, too, have my yard surrounded by a cement rock border to stop the yard from sloping downward. I really like all the ideas you have presented I hope to be able to apply some tips to my own yard.

  20. I like your tip about using lots of colors. The Salvia flower is actually one of my favorites as well. We are looking into upping our curb appeal for the summer and I think redoing some of our landscaping would be a good start. I would love to try some different flowers and see how they look.

  21. These are some really good landscaping tips, I especially liked the idea to use lots of color. Especially because I have very few colors, and mostly just green shrubbery. I can’t wait to follow these tips and have a great yard now, thanks for the help!

  22. I just moved into a new house and want to do some landscaping. Thanks for the advice about using lots of colors to bring the yard to life. Hopefully, I can find a company to help me plan and make my yard beautiful.

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