Awkward air conditioning units, protruding pipes, tangled hoses, and scattered clutter: These are the enemies of great curb appeal. However functional, these outdoor eyesores stick out from the natural landscape and distract people from your home’s best features. This is a nuisance as a homeowner, and a huge risk once you decide to sell your house.
“Buyers start making their decision whether they love a house or not the minute they step out of the car. So really those eyesores can have a huge impact on the psychology of a buyer and whether they are going to like a house or not,” shares Jackie Mack, a top real estate agent who sells 66% more properties than the average agent in Evanston, Illinois.
Thankfully, hiding outdoor eyesores is easier than you think. We’ve rounded up the best ways to conceal the items that take away from your yard’s beauty. Each recommendation includes product links and landscaping suggestions so you can tackle these transformations in no time.
1. Unsightly garbage and recycling bins
Buyers fantasizing about living in your home will snap back to reality when they see trash bins. Keep the dream alive and hide your garbage with these discreet options:
Arrange two trees in a row, obscuring the view of the garbage cans from the point of visibility. Both Italian cypress trees and arborvitae grow an average of 12 to 24 inches a year so purchase trees mature enough to block the view in time for selling your home.
House garbage bins in a specially designed shed.
- Triple Unit Vinyl Horizontal Garbage Shed; Wayfair $989.99
- Hardwood Large Horizontal Refuse Storage Shed Large; Target $333.99
- Double trash/recycling can; Outdoor Rustic Coolers $189.99
Add a privacy screen between the bins and point of visibility.
- Dover Vinyl Privacy Fence Panel Kit; Home Depot $129.99
- Modinex Botanical WPC Fence Panel; Wayfair $132.99
- White Vinyl Lewiston Arched Lattice Top Fence Gate; Home Depot $250
2. Ugly electrical boxes and meters
Utility boxes can be unfortunate focal points of your yard. Before you camouflage the box in any way, check with your local utility company to see what coverage is permitted (most require clearance around the perimeter for safe access). Here are a few ideas to integrate the box into your landscaping:
- Paint the box a dark gray or warm stone color.
- Wrap the box in vinyl bush print or a scenic mural.
- Surround with tall plants suited to your climate like agave or Fountain Grass.
- Plant a row of bushy shrubs like Abelia or ornamental grasses like Big bluestem, Feather Reed grass, and Red or Switchgrass behind the box to soften its angular appearance.
3. Messy garden hoses
A sloppy tangle of garden hoses is an unnecessary outdoor eyesore. Reel in the chaos with a decorative wall mount or potted floor container:
- Suncast Plastic 225-ft Hideaway Hose Reel; Lowes, $59.98
- Patina Copper Hose Pot; Frontgate, $171.75 – $209.25
- Beehive Hose Holder; Wisteria, $194.97
- Belham Living Monroe Wall Mounted Hose Holder; Hayneedle, $42.01
- NeverLeak Steel 100-ft Wall-Mount Hose Reel; Lowes, $102
- Liberty Garden Navigator Rotating Hose Reel; Hayneedle, $97.70
4. Chaotic clutter, tools, and kids toys
The easiest outdoor eyesore to hide is your personal clutter. Remove gardening tools, toys, outdoor equipment, and trash to restore peace to your backyard.
“The backyard has to look nice and clean — there really can’t be any loose items,” says Mack.
“Buyers look at those photos so carefully and they start eliminating houses based on the photos so we want to make sure the backyard looks inviting, nice and clean, and well taken care of.”
HomeLight’s Top Agent Insights Report for Q1 2019 reveals decluttering your home costs only an average of $486 and adds $2,584 in value (432% ROI!). Start by throwing out or donating any unused items. Pack up items needed but rarely used into labeled moving boxes to store in your garage. Tidy the rest in one of these outdoor sheds or garage organizers:
- Manor Plastic Vertical Storage Shed; Wayfair, $389.99
- Stoney Resin Deck Box; Target, $99.99
- Shelf Welded Steel Garage Storage Shelving Unit; Home Depot, $199
- Modular Sports Wall Storage Panel Set; Home Depot, $191.09
- FastTrack Garage Multipurpose Storage Rail System; Lowes, $49.98
5. Imposing utility boxes
These metal utilitarian boxes stick out to no benefit. Blend these boxes in by painting them the same color as the wall they’re mounted to. For additional coverage, conceal these eyesores with this Fusion Privacy Screen with built-in planters or a custom-built faux wooden cabinet. If you conceal the area with plants, make sure the boxes are still easily accessible — thorny rose bushes and heavy planters will only cause drama.
6. Uninspiring garage doors
Transform your garage door from a drab outdoor eyesore to a stylish architectural feature with these easy options.
Replace the garage door.
If your garage door is damaged or particularly dated, it’s worth replacing it with a newer model. According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2020 Cost vs. Value Report, replacing your garage door recoups an average of 94.5% return on investment. Select a model that boasts insulation and style. Garage doors with glass windows and carriage-door details especially boost curb appeal.
Paint the exterior a color.
While white garage doors are a traditional look, their bright finish often steals the stage from your home’s more beautiful elements. Instead, paint the garage doors a color that complements your home’s exterior design. Light to medium gray is a neutral yet contemporary look, best for homes with cool-toned exteriors and roofs.
For warmer-toned homes, match a shade of taupe or beige to the stone or brickwork. Deep browns mimicking wood stains are a fantastic alternative for earthy homes while black and navy provide striking contrast to red brick or white homes with coordinating shutters.
Enhance with faux carriage-door details.
Transform any type of garage door into a custom carriage door with these accents:
- Black magnetic hinge and handle accents; Amazon, $11.68
- Black magnetic decorative nail heads; Menards, $9.65
- Faux windows for the top panels; Coach House Accents, $149.99
Create dimension with a pergola or lattice.
Give your garage that extra oomph with a pergola mounted on a pair of milled brackets or a vine-wrapped lattice. Match the color and style to your home’s trim and architecture.
- Visor Pergola Kit; Pergola Depot, $669.00
- Trellis with Napa Tails; Architectural Depot, $1,339.99
- Wall-Mounted Rectangular Brown Wood Garden Trellis; My Gift, $119.99
Style with lighting and plants.
Frame the garage with symmetrical potted plants on both sides or grow vines up panel trellises between the garage doors and walls. Swap out any dated lighting with updated sconces to complete the look.
7. Messy piles of loose firewood
Scattered piles of wood are a missed opportunity to add character and coziness to your backyard. Neatly stack your wood with a firewood rack for a beautiful outdoor display. If you prefer to seal the wood off from the elements, store wood in a shed or storage bench instead.
- 8′ Straight Firewood Log Rack with Kindling Kit; Walmart, $102.41
- Frontgate Steel Log Racks; Frontgate, $186.75 – $246.75
- Keter Westwood Resin Outdoor Deck Box/Storage Bench; All Modern, $119.99
- Gray Wood Hughes Storage Bench; World Market, $299.99
- Hanover Indoor/Outdoor Galvanized Steel Firewood Storage Rack; Overstock, $159.99
- Combination 6 Ft. x 2 Ft. Wood Log Store; Wayfair, $509.99
8. Uninviting chain-link fences
Reminiscent of cages, chain-link fences hold a negative connotation; they’re associated with danger more than safety. If you can’t replace your chain-link fence, soften the appearance with these camouflages:
- Line the visible side of the fence with reed or bamboo screens.
- Paint the metal black or dark green.
- Build wood posts and framing to break up long swaths of metal.
- Plant a flower bed of voluptuous plants like hydrangeas or shoal creek chaste trees in front.
- Weave in fence privacy tape available in flexible diagonal rolls or rigid vertical strips.
9. Views into the neighbor’s yard… and vice versa
No matter how close you are to your neighbor, buyers won’t feel comfortable with a fence low enough for a peeping Wilson to chat over.
Extend your fence or wall.
Check your local laws and HOA rules for the maximum fence height. Natural wooden lattice is a classic fence extension material, while white lattice offers a cheery alternative. For a fresh take, extend your property wall with black or gunmetal corrugated steel.
Plant vertical landscaping.
Tall trees and shrubs provide additional coverage beyond the legal fence height, bordering your yard with greenery. Create an evergreen tree line with Spartan Juniper or Sky Pencil Holly. For denser coverage, plant a hedge with Boxwood shrubs or Canadian Hemlock. Bamboo is another fast-growing alternative perfect for modern and eastern-influenced homes.
10. Invasive neighboring foliage
You have the legal right to trim back neighboring plants that cross over your property line. If there is a tree growing between the properties, you’ll need to check your local laws to determine your options for managing roots and branches creeping into your yards.
11. Peeling window security bars
Transform your window security bars from scary to elegant with a fresh coat of paint and blooming planter boxes. Plant seasonal flowers or high-quality faux flower arrangements to brighten the windows.
- Tortuga Nantucket Galvanized Steel Window Box Planter; Wayfair, $39.99
- Charleston PVC Window Boxes; Flower Window Boxes, $79.99
- Mervela Teak Window Box Planter; Wayfair, $62.99
12. Bulky air conditioning units
Hide your air conditioning unit with a privacy screen or custom fence. Add flower boxes to the surrounding walls to create a vertical garden or plant flowers in front for a pop of color.
- Castle Creek 3-Panel Air Conditioner Screen; Sportsman’s Guide, $80.99
- Modern AC Unit Cover; Etsy, $400
- Huntersville Privacy Screen; Wayfair, $95.99
- Privacy Fence – White Screen; eBay, $128.96
13. Exposed pipes, well heads, septic tank lids, and irrigation equipment
Cover pipes and irrigation miscellaneous that poke out of the ground with faux, hollow rocks. Integrate the rock into your backyard with surrounding plants and smaller stones. “It shouldn’t be sitting in the yard just all by itself,” Mack advises. “It should be part of a berm or a perennial border, something where it looks like it’s made to be there.”
Choose a color and style of rock to match your landscaping:
- Mock Rock Well Pipe Cover; Plow & Hearth, $89.95
- Artificial Rock Enclosure – Fieldstone; Houzz, $85.99
- Outdoor Essentials Faux Rock; eBay, $75.71
Artificial Rock Enclosure – Sandstone; Walmart, $51.92
Hiding outdoor eyesores is worth the effort
See? You can eliminate most outdoor eyesores in a weekend with a few minor purchases and some clever landscaping. Remove these distractions and buyers will enjoy your home’s outdoor space for what it is and be eager to see what’s in store for them through those front doors.
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