Curb appeal is a buzz phrase in the real estate industry for a good reason. Curb appeal can add between 5% and 11% to the sale value of a home. Also, homes that buyers say have high curb appeal sell faster.
Even if you are not planning to sell your home, curb appeal increases homeowners’ satisfaction in their neighborhoods. For many homeowners, curb appeal is as important to their enjoyment of their neighborhood as highly-rated schools, good roads, and access to grocery stores, furniture stores, and other shopping.
The advantage of enhancing curb appeal is that it has a high return on investment. For very little money and effort, you can vastly increase the curb appeal of your home. Here are some inexpensive front yard curb appeal boosters.
One of the most inexpensive front yard curb appeal boosters is actually free. Cleaning up your yard can have an enormous impact on your curb appeal. Some ways you can clean up your yard include:
- Clean up yard debris like leaves and branches.
- Dig up dead plants and tree stumps.
- Hire a tow service to move cars or RVs to your side yard or backyard.
- Sweep or hose down your driveway and walkways.
- Trim hedges and trees.
These tasks are inexpensive front yard curb appeal boosters. Most are free, assuming you already have the tools. Many hardware stores will rent hedge trimmers, leaf blowers, and power washers if you do not.
The only cost you might incur is the dumping fee at your local landfill. If you have a lot of yard waste, you might want to look into dumpster rentals so that you can cut down on your trips to the landfill.
Lawn care is one of the most inexpensive front yard curb appeal boosters. It also has one of the greatest returns on investment. For about $100, you can fertilize the lawn on a quarter-acre lot.
Grass consumes a lot of nutrients from the soil. In most cases, it consumes nutrients faster than it can be replaced through natural processes. Applying fertilizer will boost the nutrients in the soil. As a result, your lawn will:
- Look greener: Fertilizer provides the nutrients grass needs. This will eliminate yellow patches.
- Sprout thicker: With healthier soil, new grass will grow in the bald spots.
- Grow faster: Grass needs sunshine, water, and nutrients from the soil. Once the fertilizer is applied, grass can use sunshine and water more efficiently to grow.
Many people apply fertilizer without hiring a lawn care company. Applying fertilizer is a relatively easy process. You can apply it yourself with a spreader or sprayer and a bag or bottle of fertilizer.
However, you may wish to hire a lawn care company to boost your curb appeal. Some benefits of hiring a lawn care company include:
- Labor: If you need knee pain relief after mowing your lawn, you might want to hire a lawn care company to fertilize your lawn for you.
- Expertise: Lawn care companies know what kind of fertilizer to apply, how much to apply, and how frequently to apply it. Do-it-yourself lawn fertilizing risks damage to the lawn.
- Cost: Once you add up the cost of fertilizer, sprayers, or spreaders and your time, you may find that a lawn care company is actually cheaper than doing it yourself.
Landscaping is another of the inexpensive front yard curb appeal boosters you can use. If you are looking for a spring or summer project, you can put flower beds, trees, and even a vegetable garden in your front yard. A nicely landscaped front yard can give your home a custom look that boosts the curb appeal and value of your home.
You should plan your landscaping project before starting work. Some tasks could require a licensed contractor or other trade-person like an electrician or plumber. If you have a plan before you start, you can make sure you are on their schedule during the busy summer building season.
- General contractor: You may need a general contractor if your landscaping project includes a fence, retaining wall, or concrete driveway or walkway.
- Electrician: You should contact an electrician to install landscape lighting and sprinkler controls.
- Plumber: If you plan to install a pond with a pump or lawn sprinklers, you may want to call a plumber.
You will also have time to make sure you have all the permits needed for your project. If your landscaping project only includes planting trees, flowers, sod, and other plants, you probably do not need a building permit.
But in some areas, you may need a building permit for:
- Sprinkler systems
- Gas fire pits
- Sheds, gazebos, or other structures
- Concrete slabs
- Outdoor lighting
Finished Side Yard
When you plan inexpensive front yard curb appeal boosters for your home, do not forget that your side yard is visible from the curb. Finishing your side yard can help boost your curb appeal.
Some ways you can finish your side yard include:
- Gardens: You can install a side yard garden that complements your front yard landscaping.
- Trees: Trees can provide shade and privacy. They can reduce your heating expenses and block the view of your backyard from the curb when planted in your side yard.
- Driveway: Although a driveway might not be aesthetically pleasing, putting a driveway in your side yard can help you clean up the look of your front yard by allowing you to park your boat, RV, or preowned car on the side of your home.
- Courtyard: A wider side yard might be perfect for a courtyard. A few pavers and a table and chairs might allow you to use your side yard rather than leaving it as dead space.
All of these ideas can be accomplished with some work and a few supplies, making them excellent ideas for inexpensive front yard curb appeal boosters.
New Front Door
A new front door will require some investment. But since you can install a new front door yourself, it qualifies as one of the most inexpensive front yard curb appeal boosters.
A new front door costs about $300. A decorative screen door or glass door costs about $900. So, for about $1,200, you can give the front of your home an entirely new look. This look could give you all the excitement of being in a new home without having two home mortgages.
For the budget-conscious homeowner, you probably do not need a building permit or contractor to install a new front door. As long as you are using the existing entry, replacing the door is not considered a structural change.
This project is also easy for do-it-yourself fans to tackle. Replacing a front door usually requires a few easy steps that can be accomplished with common hand tools that everyone owns.
- Remove the door: Removing the door can usually be completed by taking the door off the hinges. If the hinges are sealed, you may need to remove the hinges from the door frame to dismount the door.
- Remove the door hardware: If you are going to reuse the door handle and lock, you will need to remove them from the old door. Even if you do not plan to reuse the door hardware, you may want to remove it to recycle the door.
- Install the new door: You may need help mounting the new door. If the door is crooked, it will not close completely. Having someone hold the door while you tighten the hinges, you should be able to mount it straight.
- Install the door hardware: Most doors do not come with hardware. If you reuse the hardware from your old door, you will not need to make new keys. But new door hardware can help you spruce up the look of your home without spending a lot of money. A new doorknob and lockset will probably cost less than $50.
A slightly more ambitious project is replacing the windows on the front of your home. New windows can be costly, and you may need to hire a contractor to help you remove the old windows and install the new ones. But compared to buying a fancy new engagement ring or a new car, removing and replacing the windows are relatively inexpensive front yard curb appeal boosters.
Moreover, new windows can help you cut down your energy costs. A typical home loses 20%-30% of its heating and cooling through its windows. New energy-efficient windows can cut this to 10% or less.
For homes that face south or west or homes in hot climates, tinted windows can reduce cooling costs by blocking ultraviolet rays from heating the home. If your home is in a cold climate, double pane windows can reduce heating costs. The gap between the panes acts as an insulator that prevents the heated air inside the home from getting cooled by the cold air outside.
You can also dress up your home and improve your energy use through exterior window treatments. Shutters, for example, can reduce your cooling cost during the summer by blocking the sunlight from entering the home. During the winter, shutters can trap warm air inside.
A covered porch is also a big investment. But it can provide additional living space for a fraction of the cost of a home addition. This makes a covered porch one of the most inexpensive front yard curb appeal boosters that can also expand your home.
Whether your new covered porch is exposed to the outdoors or enclosed as a sunroom, this area will give your family a place to relax. By placing furniture and even a ceiling fan in your covered porch, you can use it from spring to fall.
The largest cost associated with a covered porch is probably hiring a roofer to extend your roof to cover your entry. But compared to the cost of a home addition, extending your roof should be much less expensive.
Beyond that cost, you may need to pour concrete to expand your porch. You should check with your local building department to determine if you need a building permit to pour a concrete porch. If you do, you should consider hiring a general contractor who can ensure the new porch is properly supported and will not crack or shift.
New Garage Door
New garage doors can be costly. But if your garage has a manual door or the door has been damaged, a new automatic garage door can provide both a new look and better functionality.
This is a project that probably does not require a building permit. However, installing a new garage door can be dangerous. The weight of a new garage door plus the wiring that may be needed for a garage door opener are two reasons to hire a contractor or garage door installer.
When you choose your new garage door, you should also look into some of the features that garage door companies offer. The latest garage doors can be opened, closed, unlocked, and locked from your smartphone. This allows you to control your door when you are not at home.
Garage doors can be connected to your home alarm system. This allows you or a security monitoring company to receive alerts when your garage door is opened while your alarm system is armed.
When you need to increase the curb appeal of your home, you have many options. But increasing the curb appeal without spending a lot of money is more challenging. Some inexpensive front yard curb appeal boosters include simple projects like cleaning your yard or fertilizing your lawn.
But they also include more involved projects. Although replacing your door, windows, and garage door are not inexpensive, they have a high ROI and may be worthwhile investments to increase your home’s value. Finally, some projects fall in the middle. These projects, like improving your side yard, can be handled yourself.