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From Pumpkins to Icicles: How to Create Seasonal Curb Appeal in the Colder Months

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Crisp breezes, falling leaves, the first flurries — a seasonal change is in the air. As the vibrant hues of fall give way to the stark beauty of winter, many new homeowners might think the cooler months offer a reprieve from exterior home maintenance and curb appeal efforts. But on the contrary, fall and winter seasons offer an opportunity to embrace the cooler temperatures and have a little fun with seasonal enhancements.

There’s an array of ways to ensure your new home’s fall-winter curb appeal remains charming throughout the colder seasons. Before you settle in for all the fall and winter fun, check out these tips for creating new home fall-winter curb appeal you’ll enjoy all season long.

Selling Your Home In Fall or Winter?

While these curb appeal tips are great for enjoying your own home, they also can help boost buyer interest if you’re selling. Working with a top agent can help identify the best ways to prep, stage, and market your home for a successful sale.

Spruce up your landscaping

We all know that a majority of plants start to lose their leaves in the fall and winter. What you may not know is how your particular trees, shrubs, and groundcover are going to change as the cold sets in. If you’re unsure about a certain plant and how it will behave in the coming months, you may want to consult with local experts.

Missy Cady-Kampmeyer, a top real estate agent in Jacksonville, Florida, often relies on the expertise of a professional landscape architect when advising her clients about curb appeal. Landscape architects have extensive knowledge of the height, color, and hardiness of plants in your climate zone. A designer will create a specific plan for your space for between $50 and $150 per hour.

If you want to tackle the project yourself but need some help getting started, often a plant specialist at your greenhouse or garden shop can identify your trees and shrubs based on photos on your phone. They can help predict what each plant will do and recommend plants based on your desires. Sometimes this service is free; some shops may charge a small fee. American Public Gardens Association members can also typically consult with gardeners or take landscaping classes that are very specific to their areas.

You can also use free apps to try to identify the shrubs and trees in your yard. Some of the top-rated free options in the Android and iOS app stores include Pl@ntNet, Seek by iNaturalist, LeafSnap, and PlantSnap. Taking what you’ve learned to a plant specialist can help save some time and give you the opportunity to focus on what’s not working well in your yard and how to fix it.

Once you have an idea of what will happen to your foliage, you can make landscape changes and additions that will keep your front yard looking fantastic all year long.

Work with fall’s natural colors

During autumn, nature puts on a vibrant display of oranges, reds, golds, and purples. Consider adding some plants with leaves that turn bright colors in the fall, especially if you find out that most of your current landscaping shifts to basic brown when the climate gets cold.

  • Japanese maple: The deep red tones of the Japanese maple make it a stunning accent tree in the fall.
  • Mexican feather grass: With stalks that turn amber in the fall, these low grasses add fullness and vibrancy to landscaping beds.
  • Ornamental kale or cabbage: Bitter to the tongue but pleasant to the eyes, ornamental cabbages can add some bright purples to your edging or ground cover.
  • Virginia sweetspire: The leaves of this shrub turn bright red in the fall, which could make a bold statement along your foundation or within a tree berm.
  • Burning bush: Watch in awe as the burning bush’s leaves transform from green to pink to red as the weather cools.

Keep some (ever)greenery

Evergreen trees, bushes, and plants are a great way to keep some consistent color in your landscaping throughout the cold season. Even beneath a layer of snow, evergreens keep their shape, adding fullness to your yard when other trees look bare.

  • Japanese yew: This lovely plant stays green year-round and can be used in a multitude of settings, from groundcover to pots to trees.
  • Blue spruce: Commonly used as Christmas trees, this evergreen can also be planted in porch pots.
  • Hinoki cypress: Feathery greenery can be trimmed into lovely shapes to add character to your entryway.
  • Inkberry holly: This circular evergreen shrub grows slowly and never looks bare. It can be used as a hedge or edge plant.
  • Hemlock: The tiny pinecones of the hemlock bush give it wintertime charm.

Don’t forget the flowers

Though we normally think of flowers as a spring thing, plenty of flowers continue blooming well into the fall. Consider adding some of these beauties to garden beds, window boxes, or ceramic pots.

  • Chrysanthemums (aka mums): Cady-Kampmeyer advises her clients to use these thick, golden flowers to give a bright pop of color near the front door.
  • Anise hyssop: The tall, lavender-colored blooms of this mid-height shrubbery stay well into the fall.
  • Strawflowers: Deep crimson petals with sunny yellow centers make these perennials a winner for fall garden beds.
  • Snapdragons: Tall, lacy, and super-fun, these multicolored flowers can keep blooming into early fall in some regions.
  • Aster: As summer turns to fall, the aster bursts forth with daisy-like flowers in pretty shades of pink, purple, or white.

Add berries for a pop of color

Some shrubs begin producing berries in the fall and keep them throughout the winter months. When viewed against crisp white snow, colorful berries stand out even more.

  • American beautyberry: These bright purple berries continue even after the plant’s leaves have fallen. They’re almost maintenance-free and help attract small wildlife.
  • Firethorn: White flowers in the summer yield dark orange berries that last throughout the winter.
  • Winterthur viburnum: Dark blue berries sprout on this shrub in the fall, and its leaves also turn a nice shade of red.
  • Ornamental peppers: These tiny peppers add some spice to your landscaping.
  • Winterberry: This shrub loses all its leaves in the winter but keeps its bright red berries, creating a gorgeous contrast against white snow.

A HomeLight infographic on the best home maintenance projects for fall.

Keep things tidy

As leaves begin falling, your curb appeal can go from unbelievable to unkempt overnight. To stay on top of leaves, you may want to invest in some time-saving tools.

A lawn sweeper can make quick work of leaves in the yard, and a leaf vacuum might be helpful for clearing leaves out of landscaping beds.

With branches and stems easily accessible, you may be tempted to do some pruning and trimming. But before you go crazy with those shears, check with a local garden expert, as some shrubs, trees, and plants don’t respond well to fall pruning.

As a general rule, it’s safe to prune away diseased or distressed branches to promote overall landscape health. Also, be sure to clear away plant debris before it has a chance to decay. Decay can lead to mold or disease, which could endanger your plants.

Be mindful of your hardscaping

After getting your landscaping under control, turn your attention to your home’s hardscaping, where a few changes can go a long way.

Decorate your garden

As chilly weather approaches, you’ll obviously want to put away spring and summer garden ornaments. Be sure to store or winterize any water features and pull in all painted springtime statues to preserve their finishes.

But you don’t have to leave your garden completely without decoration. Consider adding weather-resistant concrete accessories, such as a bench or gazing ball to keep interest and color in your garden throughout the season. You could also add a hardy bird feeder to keep your feathered friends stopping by during the cold months.

Prep the porch for visitors

Prep your front entryway to welcome guests — trick-or-treaters and carolers — by sweeping and pressure-washing before it gets too cold. In addition, your concrete, pavers, or stained wood decking may need a coat of sealant to protect them against the elements. Check with your home supply store for the products and procedures best suited to your porch materials.

In addition, your front door may need a new coat of paint. Consider updating the look with a complementary color that will add interest during bleak days. For example, a white and black home might look great with a red door; a tan or brown exterior might get a facelift from a dark shade of green or blue at the front door.

Cady-Kampmeyer says, “I always like a black front door that can be accented with a wreath or garland. It’s clean and crisp and goes with anything.” Her go-to color is Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black.

Light up the night

Colder months mean longer nights, but you can maximize curb appeal during evening hours with outdoor lighting. For some easy, electrician-free additions, try:

You may also want to consider adding some temporary string lights on the porch or garden trellis during the darker season.

Curb appeal is very important all the time. It’s telling the story of a home. I feel that using fall and winter decorations can be a huge asset in telling that story.
  • Missy Cady-Kampmeyer
    Missy Cady-Kampmeyer Real Estate Agent
    Missy Cady-Kampmeyer
    Missy Cady-Kampmeyer Real Estate Agent at Compass Florida
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    Currently accepting new clients
    • Years of Experience 9
    • Transactions 746
    • Average Price Point $288k
    • Single Family Homes 619

Add seasonal decor

Fall and winter are a great time to add seasonal decorations to your home’s exterior. Whether your style is trendy or timeless, there’s a way to bring “festive” to your front yard.

“Curb appeal is very important all the time. It’s telling the story of a home,” says Cady-Kampmeyer. “Using fall and winter decorations can be a huge asset in telling that story.”

Fall accents

Create your own mix of classic harvest elements and updated accents that will make neighbors do a double-take.

  • Pumpkins: Place pumpkins and gourds of differing sizes on porch steps. If you’re not into orange, spray paint pumpkins in shades that compliment your home’s exterior. In warmer climates, consider using artificial pumpkins to avoid rot.
  • Straw bales: Use rectangle bales to add tiers to front door decor. Place decorative lanterns, baskets, or harvest items on top.
  • Wreaths: Grapevine and burlap wreaths are a hardy and easily-stored option for subtle fall charm. Change the greenery or florals as you see fit throughout the season.
  • Garlands: Drape a garland over front porch windows; this buffalo plaid option would transition nicely from Halloween to Christmas.
  • Planters: Galvanized tin planters provide lightweight durability and an extra bit of shine. Fill with marigolds or cut sunflowers for a cheery fall look.

Winter decor

Winter decor is all about adding some warmth to a bleak landscape. Take a look at these general winter options, and incorporate elements from whatever holiday you personally celebrate.

  • Wreaths: A eucalyptus wreath adds a consistent basis of greenery that can be enhanced with colorful ribbon during the holidays. Add natural sprigs to treat guests to a pleasant aroma upon arrival.
  • Topiaries: Natural or artificial evergreen topiaries provide a great foundation for holiday decorations and can be left up sans-decor throughout the winter months.
  • Extra lighting: Add some twinkle branches for a glow that lasts all season.
  • Blankets: Place an outdoor blanket over your porch bench or rockers for extra color and coziness.
  • Garlands: Hang a basic green garland over the front door, and add small ornaments during the holidays. This long needle option features tiny LED lights.

Maintaining curb appeal year-round

The shifting of seasons definitely brings changes to a home’s curb appeal. But with a little preparation, your home can remain eye-catching throughout the year — and for years to come.

Header Image Source: (Magda Ehlers / Pexels)