Selling a home isn't as simple as posting an ad and waiting for offers to pour in. It takes time and a proper presentation. You must market a house well to compete with the hundreds of other properties that may be available nearby. And, as with all marketing, most people are swayed by their first impression. For a home, that's the front yard.
A poorly landscaped home can make a buyer feel as though the property has been neglected. After all, if the busted water hose is lying in a heap over stray weeds in a bed of flattened pine mulch, the inside hasn't fared much better.
An excellent real estate agent will talk to their clients about curb appeal and encourage a bit of landscaping before listing the home. Simple enhancements like new mulch, a coat of paint, and a few flowers can transform a dull and lifeless yard into a showplace.
Beautiful on a budget
Planning a landscape layout is a daunting task and one that automatically sends shivers down the spines of those who have to pay for them. But beautification doesn't have to break the bank. Here are a few tips for sprucing things up on a budget:
- Tidy up - Clear debris such as toys and fallen limbs.
- Organize - Anything that remains outdoors should be in its place. That goes for toys, water hoses, and patio furniture.
- Pressure wash walkways and paths
- Keep weeds at bay - Weeding planned landscape areas helps focus the attention on the foliage and design.
- Light it up - Though most buyers won't tour a home at night, many scope potential new neighborhoods in the evening and early morning hours. Inexpensive solar path lights add an element of class in the dark and lend a feeling of security to the home. Solar lights are available at most retail outlets and cost between $2 and $15 each.
- Remove personal touches - Remove any personalized adornments, including collegiate flags and memorial stones.
Easy Landscape Projects
While they may cost a bit more than the above, a few well-executed landscape improvements can help a home sell faster and closer to the asking price, sometimes more.
Flower bed edging
Materials: Rigid Edging, pourable chalk or flour, spade, handsaw, rubber mallet
How to: Use chalk or flour to draw lines where the edging will go and remove excess grass and sod with a spade. Line edging along chalk or flour line and remove any excess material with the handsaw. Place edging upright in cleared line and tap gently with a rubber mallet until securely in the ground.
Pro tip: Choose an edging that complements the color of the home.
Estimated time to complete: One day
Materials: Shovel, flowering trees, superphosphate, mulch
How to: Find a location suitable for the trees being planted; It would help if you avoided rocky or hilly terrain as trees may not adequately take root. A flat, sunny area works best for most varieties though some thrive in partial shade. Dig a hole that is about two feet wider than the root ball. Treat hole with superphosphate and place tree gently at the bottom. If roots are wrapped in burlap, remove them just before planting. Cover with soil, then a thick layer of mulch and water thoroughly.
Pro tips: Trees can be purchased online for a more significant and less expensive variety. Shippable trees are sent in a dormant state, so this is an excellent option for homes that won’t go on the market until the following season. Select only trees that are native to the area where you will plant them to ensure viability and avoid introducing invasive species. Flowering trees add color and dimension to a home’s landscape.
Time to complete: Approximately one hour per tree.
Upgrade an aging mailbox
Materials: Mailbox and post, concrete, shovel, four-foot longboards, screwdriver/drill
Remove existing mailbox and any foundation materials left behind.
Dig a hole deep enough so the mailbox will sit approximately 41” above ground when installed.
Fill the hole with concrete to set the post.
Use boards to keep the post in place while the concrete hardens.
Once set, refill the hole with soil and attach the mailbox.
Pro tips: The USPS suggests that mailbox posts are buried no more than two feet deep to ensure they break away if hit. Plant flowers of varying heights around the mailbox post for a pop of color.
Time to complete: Two days.
Fill shaded/bare areas.
Materials: Hand spade, hand tiller, assorted shade flowers or mosses
How to: Aggravate ground with a hand tiller and use a spade to dig holes where new plants will reside. Add flowers, pack lightly with soil, and water daily until plants have taken root. For mosses, start with a clean, bare area. Scratch soil surface and place moss in five-inch sections on prepared ground. Water thoroughly to promote assimilation.
Pro tip: Moss grows slowly but is easy to care for and looks excellent in heavily canopied areas once established.
Time to complete: One to two days.
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