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Landscaping Tips for Home Sellers

landscaping home curb appealFocus on the Landscaping Foundation of Your Home

Remember the adage “First impressions last”? Well it may be a bit worn-out but it still is the best when trying to sell your home. 

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A successful approach when selling is to think of your home as a product, a marketable commodity, which would compete with thousands more, all trying to get the attention of would-be buyers.

Of course, as a product, its best selling point is how it looks – flawless, picture perfect, postcard-worthy, a perfect ”10” - in the eyes of the buyer. To achieve this you need to make improvements before you schedule that very first “Open House”. Start with the foundation landscape. Foundation plants greet viewers and guests. Your goal is to choose the right plants and place them in their proper places to achieve a well-designed foundation landscape. However, no matter how beautiful your foundation landscape is, if your home’s exteriors are not in tip-top shape, prospective buyers will not pay attention. You will have a better chance of getting the maximum price for your home if both of these elements are in excellent condition.

To determine your house’s curb appeal, look at it from across the street. Stand at the curb in front of your house and imagine for a moment that you are a potential buyer. Focus on the foundation. Do the plants around the foundation look boring and colorless or missing completely? Foundation plantings serve to make the house blend in with the landscape and highlight windows, doors and other openings. In fact, they soften the harsh lines and accentuate the good lines of the house. Now, how does your home look from the outside? Does your house look inviting or does it stick out like a sore thumb in the neighborhood? Is your attention directed to the entrance? Can’t wait to get inside because it is so attractive from the outside, or do you just want to leave? 

In order for you to have a better evaluation of your foundation plantings, you need to understand how it should be designed. 

Foundation Plantings

Basically, foundation planting is composed of three components, which when combined, forms a seamless whole - the entrance planting, corner planting and transitional planting. 

  • Entrance planting

Designers from professional landscaping companies now refer to the area in the front of the house as the entry garden. Plants in this area should make the guests feel welcome. So it is common to choose plants that are interesting and attractive, whatever the season may be.  However, remember that the height of the plants should not make visitors feel enclosed nor conceal the entrance to the house, obviously, for security reasons. 

  • Corner planting

The plants at each corner of the house should visually connect the structure into the surrounding landscape. 

  • Transition planting

At transition points, the plants are commonly simple and low and should not call attention to themselves. Most small houses or those with beautiful architecture with no unsightly foundations to hide, may not even need transition planting.  If you have this kind of house, having a bed of groundcover or mulch is enough. However, for big houses with long open spaces, low plants should be installed to fill the void. 

Foundation plantings are commonly installed based on the old formula, “big ones on the end and little ones in the middle”. This approach directs the attention to the entrance, which is one of the reasons for installing foundation plantings. However, other design criteria should be considered as well. Years ago, a line of shrubs often surround houses to conceal the undesirable view of an ugly foundation. However, this may not be true today since modern architectural designs do not need this kind of screening.

House Exteriors

Getting back to your inspection, ask yourself these questions: What about your house’s exteriors? Do you see clutter in the driveway? Is the siding’s color faded? Are the windows clean or broken? Is there any missing roof shingle? What about other building accessories like trims, gutters, downspouts, etc.? 

Checklist

To get you started, make a checklist of which part of your property needs improvement after you have seen it from afar. You can use the following list as a guide: 

  • Entrance plantings
  • Corner plantings
  • Transition plantings
  • Windows and screens
  • Siding
  • Front door
  • Eaves
  • Roof
  • Others: Trims, gutters, downspouts, sashes, shutters, vents

Actions to Take To Improve Foundation Plantings

By now, you must have an idea what needs to be done to improve your foundation plantings. If luck is on your side, maybe all you have to do to improve the foundation landscape is trim the shrubs and hedges, mow the lawn, weed the flower beds, add a brightly-colored plant or two near the house entrance and then plant a few flowers. However, if the job is overwhelming, you have the option to hire a professional landscaper from one of the local professional landscaping companies near you. 

Consider these simple tips:

  1. The size, color, texture and the number of plants that you think is needed to funnel the visitors to the entrance, keeping in mind that they should also highlight the architectural lines of the house.
  2. Choose quality plants with minimal maintenance requirements when they mature. 
  3. The corners and the entrance of your home are the most important. The tallest shrubs are located at the corners. To prevent an abrupt drop from the tall shrub to the ground level, install a smaller shrub on each side of the corner. 
  4. Use medium-sized shrubs next to the entrance of your home. 
  5. Remember to install small ornamental trees 5 to 6 feet from the foundation.

Put your plans on paper. You can make a rough sketch or you can choose to draw your plans to scale. It does not matter whichever way you do it, as long as you have a plan. If you want, you can search the Internet for computer programs, which can help you visualize your plans.

Landscape Design Errors

You should be aware that there are certain design errors to avoid when improving your foundation plantings:

  • Over planting

This is a common pitfall to avoid. When planting shrubs, space them according to their mature size. Also, do not install plants that when mature, will eventually cover windows. A word of advice though, it is better to plant a few well-placed plants rather than many small ones.

  • Visual confusion

Don’t forget the goal of foundation plantings is to focus on the main entrance. Avoid competing elements such as isolated plants in the middle of an open expanse of grass. Also, don’t resort to excessive use of accent or specimen plants. 

  • Excessive formality

Unless your home is very large or palatial, you should avoid overly formal designs that use symmetrical balance, which creates a still appearance.

Professional landscaping companies have the experience and the skills to help transform your foundation plantings from drab to fabulous. They will also save you from making costly design mistakes like the ones mentioned above. In reality, there are lots of elements and principles that are at play in any  landscape design. If you are feel that you need help from the experts, contact any of the local professional landscaping companies to plan and execute improvements to your foundation plantings. 

Actions to Take To Improve House Exterior

Get started by organizing the “to do” list. You can actually categorize the jobs based on degree of difficulty, from basic to moderate to advance. 

Basic Tips

  • Removal of clutter 

Make sure that there are no toys, trash or any other objects, which you think are out of place in your lawn, yard or driveway. You may choose to rent a storage space for a few months to keep these objects and your other valuables until the home is sold.  Throw out the trash and if possible place garbage bins where the potential buyers cannot see them and make sure to empty the mailbox.

  • Check windows, screens and front door
    • Clean windows and screens thoroughly. Make sure that they open and close easily. 
    • If you have shutters, make sure that they are clean.
    • Apply WD40 to squeaky hinges in your windows and front door.
    • Inspect the eaves and verandas. Remove any spider webs.

Moderate Tips

  • Inspect the caulking in your windows and doors. Apply new caulking, if the old one looks deteriorated.
  • Check the door handle and knob of your front door. Replace if too stiff, too loose, worn-out or outdated.
  • Inspect the siding. Clean if needed. You can do it by using a steel bristle brush and soapy water and rinsing it off with a hose. However, for stubborn dirt, you might need to power wash the siding by using a high-pressure pump. 

Advanced Tips

  • Replace cracked or broken windowpanes. 
  • Replace damaged screens.
  • Replace old and worn-out shutters.
  • Repaint the window shutters and the front door.
  • Inspect the roof. Replace missing or damaged shingles and flashings. 
  • Clean the gutters of leaves and other debris.
  • Inspect the trims, gutters, downspouts, sashes, shutters and vents. Replace if necessary.
  • Repaint siding if color has faded. After all, a well-painted home suggests a well-cared for home.

Based on the above list, determine how much work you can manage and decide which jobs need to be done by a professional. Understandably, those jobs under the “Advanced” category may test the limits of your capabilities. For example, if you are afraid of heights, going up on your roof is next to impossible. 

Also, you may opt to hire a professional home inspector to check out what needs to be done to get your house ready. Some serious buyers hire this kind of professional to check a house from top to bottom, inspecting every nook and cranny before giving a seal of approval. If you can afford this, the inspection must be done before putting your home on the market. This way, you will feel more confident when showing off your home to a serious buyer. 

Improve Your Curb Appeal With These Do-It-Yourself Videos

Here's an example of how professional help can really make a difference.  Updating your curb appeal is a great way to maximize your home's sale price.

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