Shrubs and small trees provide multi-season interest with geraniums (Pelargonium spp.) adding spot color for the summer. The curved patch of grass helps show off the plants and soften an area near the walkway.
Keep shrubs and trees from blocking walkways. When shrubs get this big, it’s usually best to take them out.
Make sure the edges of landscape beds are crisp, neat and weed free.
Whether you are planning to sell your home or just update the look, there are a few things you can do in the landscape to boost your property’s curb appeal.
“Stand in front of the house and look at it with fresh eyes,” said Glen Kemery, a real estate broker with Snyder Strategy Realty, Inc., in Indianapolis. “Pay attention to the details.”
Is the paint cracked, peeling or faded? Is the trim crisp and clean? Are the shrubs pruned properly? Consider taking some of them completely out, especially the overgrown, misshapen ones, he said.
Consumers value properties with an attractive landscape about 11 percent above the base price, according to Smart Money magazine. Several studies show a well-designed landscape adds 15 to 20 percent to the value of the home.
You want to make sure your yard looks good, without a lot of weeds, and that your grass is green. When potential buyers look at that, they think, “wow, if the outside looks this good, the inside must look good, too,” Kemery said.
Whether selling the house or just spiffing it up, people are interested in low-maintenance landscapes, said Judy DePue, a landscape designer for 35 years and owner of New Vistas Landscaping in Goshen. DePue is a certified fellow of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers.
A lot of old-fashioned evergreens, such as yews (Taxus spp.) and junipers (Juniperus spp.), need regular pruning to keep the size in check, she said. “The newer look is not everything is filled with all greens.”
DePue said one of the color trends is burgundy and other wine-colored hues, such as the USDA Zone 3-hardy Little Devil ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Donna May’). It has an upright habit, is somewhat resistant to powdery mildew and is 3 to 4 feet tall and wide. Pink flowers pop against the deep burgundy foliage in spring. Many landscape designers and homeowners use this shrub as an alternative to Japanese barberry (Berberis thubergii), which is on some states' invasive species list.
Little Devil ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Donna May’) is a low-maintenance shrub with trendy burgundy foliage.
Dwarf plants don’t usually need a lot of pruning, she said. Among DePue’s favorites is ‘Green Gem’ dwarf boxwood (Buxus x ‘Green Gem’). This slow-grower will get about 3 to 4 feet tall and wide, but keeps its lush, evergreen mound with little or no pruning.
Preferring low-maintenance tree and shrub plantings, DePue shuns annuals, perennials and containers for spot color, emphasizing that many require more work, such as watering and deadheading, or planting every year.
For an instant, fresh new look, paint the trim around the door a contrasting color.
Add a new light and stylish, decorative house numbers to spruce up the porch.
Besides replacing plants, another way to give your home a facelift is to paint the trim or add other coordinated, complementary color schemes, said Betty Schelle of Indigo Gardens and Design in South Bend. Schelle, a former stay-at-home mom, founded her business three years ago.
“Pick an accent color and refresh the paint on the window trim or the front door, and repeat it again in the landscape with flowers or pot color,” she said. “The color theme repeated makes the house look clean and uncluttered.”
Add the color to the mailbox and enlarge the house numbers to an Art Deco or another appropriate style, said Schelle, also a member of APLD.
If your house sits back from the road, go with specimen plants with bold foliage. Fine-textured plants will not catch the eyes of passersby, if your house sits 50 feet away from the road, she said.
Replace outdated metal awnings with more fashionable eyebrow pergolas above windows or an arbor over a door. Adorn the fixture with perennial vines, such as Clematis spp., Kentucky wisteria (Wisteria macrostachya), American wisteria (W. frutescens) or honeysuckle (Lonicerea spp.), which will also provide some cover over porches and doorways. Climbing black-eyed Susan (Thunbergia alata), hyacinth bean (Lablab purpurea), scarlet runner bean (Phaseolus coccineus) and morning glories (Ipomoea purpurea) are good selections for annual vines.
If changing foundation plantings, make sure to plant the new shrubs 3 to 4 feet away from the house to allow for a maintenance alley for washing windows or painting, Schelle said. Widen narrow borders around the house and plant shrubs and small trees for textural and seasonal interest.
Lastly, she said, plant annuals. Whether trying to sell your house or perk up the look of the landscape, a $60 investment in three flats of bedding plants goes a long way in adding color, sass and eye appeal, she said.
A version of this article appeared in Indiana Gardening Volume 6, Number 2.
Photography courtesy of Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp, elanathewise/istockphoto.com, Bailey Nurseries, jlende/istockphoto.com, seeman/morguefile.com.