Whether you DIY your lawn care or hire a professional gardener, if you’re a homeowner with a front yard, you know a thing or two about landscaping maintenance. When you’re looking to sell, though, your existing upkeep strategy may fall short of fabulous, which is what you need to grab buyers’ attention and sell fast.
Just ask top real estate agent Dawn Krause, who ranks at #2 out of 1,475 seller’s agents in the Wildwood suburb of St. Louis, MO:
“Curb appeal is critical. When a potential buyer is standing at your front door, they’re looking around while the agent is getting the key. So make sure that the first impression is a crisp one. Is the mulch fresh and crisp? Are there weeds growing up? Some sellers may also need to prune their trees to really clean up that landscape.”
But making improvements to your landscaping can get pricey.
According to Fixr, the average cost to install new landscaping is $13,200 for a 1,200 sq. ft. yard. That sounds high, but it may actually be low if your home is valued at more than $130,000. Experts suggest investing 10% of your home’s value into landscaping improvements. That’s $20,000 for a home with an appraised value of $200,000.
That’s a lot of money to spend on a house that soon won’t be yours anymore. Luckily, you can achieve the look of a $20,000 landscaping makeover with an investment of time and the right knowhow. Let’s take a look at the top landscaping improvements that you can tackle yourself to amp up your home’s curb appeal, all by just doing as the pros do.
Tame Your Trees and Snip Your Shrubbery Without Doing Harm
Skim through before and after haircut photos and you’ll see how transformative clean lines can be to scraggly, overgrown hair. The same transformation happens to your house when you give your shrubs and trees a touch up.
But don’t go wild with your pruning shears just yet—or you’ll wind up with a yard that looks like it was landscaped by a two-year-old. Without proper instruction, you may even do irreversible damage that can kill your shrubs and trees.
For starters, timing matters when you’re tidying up your landscaping. While this timing varies depending upon your greenery, in general the best time to prune is in late winter to early spring, or late summer.
If you’re not prepping to sell in that time frame, that’s OK. Pruning out of season might set your plants back a year in growth, but it won’t kill them—if you prune correctly.
When you’re pruning dormant trees, you must make sure you’re cutting above—but not too close—to buds, and at an angle that minimizes the size of the cut. Proper cuts are important so that the “wound” can heal over quickly, which reduces the chance that tree-killing fungi will infect the tree.
Getting the proper angle is why professionals make multiple cuts to remove larger branches.
The first cuts allow you to remove the bulk of the branch, which puts you in control of where it lands. It also prevents the falling branch from doing damage to the trunk if it breaks while you’re sawing.
When you make the final cut to the stub, you won’t have the full branch in your way as you work to get the proper angle to keep the tree healthy.
When you trim shrubs and hedges, follow similar rules with timing and proper pruning angles. Just remember that shaped hedges need to taper toward the top so that lower branches get enough light.
Take the most care with when and how you prune your flowering or fruit-bearing shrubs and trees so that you don’t damage next year’s growth.
Careless pruning won’t only do damage to your shrubs and trees, it can also do damage to your property or you. Safety is paramount, so make sure to wear safety gloves and goggles—and follow tree trimming safety guidelines.
If your trees are too tall—requiring a ladder or chainsaw for proper pruning—skip doing it yourself. Your well-being is worth hiring a professional tree trimmer at a national average cost between $170 to $280.
The Grass Is Always Greener, If You Take Good Care of Your Lawn
The time, effort and expense it’ll take to enhance your lawn largely depends on its current state. A well-maintained, grass lawn only needs a trim to look its best before a showing or open house.
Just make sure you cut your grass to the proper height. Cut it too short too often and you’ll get brown, dead patches. Taller lawns actually absorb water and nutrients better, too. That’s why the current recommended lawn height is between 2 and 3.75 inches depending upon your grass type.
For grass that’s not as green as your neighbors (aka the other side of the fence), there’s a quick and easy fix. No, it doesn’t require weeks of waiting for your reseeded lawn to grow, you just need to wait for it to dry after spraying it with green grass paint. Don’t worry, these organic pigments are safe for vegetation.
If your lawn is so scraggly that you’d wind up painting more dirt patches than grass blades, you might need to take more drastic measures like installing fresh sod, which costs a national average of $1,817.
Overhaul Your Hardscapes With Clever Paver Placement
Once your lawn, trees and shrubbery are neatly manicured, the last big front yard features that need a makeover are your hardscapes—that’s any man-made, non-vegetation element that’s a part of your landscape (think driveways, walkways, fences, furniture, etc.)
Updating any one of these features can bust your budget if you rip it out and start fresh. For example, it would cost endless hours and over $1,000 to replace your entire driveway and walkway with brick pavers.
Luckily, you can give your hardscapes a new look without excessive effort or expense. Instead of replacing the existing surfaces, simply line them with pavers to create a crisp, defined look.
Use these same pavers to create in-ground borders, or short, stacked walls around your flowerbeds and trees. This seamless cohesion creates a sharp, well-defined yard that’ll look like the work of an expensive landscaper.
You don’t need to spend 10% of your home’s value for a professional landscaper to improve your front yard’s appearance. All it takes to increase your home’s curb appeal—and value—is a little knowhow and the will to do it yourself.
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