How-To Dazzle at the Door--Curb Appeal

Bee Better Naturally with Helen Yoest

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You don’t have a second chance to make a good first impression. That old adage is as true for gardens as it is for people. It’s especially true when it comes to curb appeal. Whether you want them to or not, most people will make snap decisions about you and your home based on your front yard. With just a little consideration, your front garden can go beyond appeal and actually welcome visitors and passersby, while at the same time letting them catch a glimpse of your personality.

What is your home’s overall style? “Does everything seem to fit?” Begin assessing your home’s curb appeal by starting at the edge of your property. Then walk up your drive or path and consider what others see. Can your visitor clearly find the front door? Is the front of the home pleasing to the eye year round? Does everything seem to fit? With a fresh eye, evaluate what you see and think about where this may lead you. Look for spaces where you can add touches that speak to who you are while at the same time complementing the home.

Your best investment of time and money is to focus on the entryway. A visitor should not be confused—make the entrance clear and obvious. Ideally, the path should be wide enough for two adults to walk side-by-side (four to five feet across) and made with materials that complement your home’s style. If you inherited the builder’s standard three-feet-wide concrete walkway, think about enhancing what you have by adding an edge made from a complemently material, such as brick, if it goes with the style of your home, or making room in your budget to work a new front walk in your landscape plan.

To improve your entryway, consider replacing existing hardware and light fixtures. For instance, if your home has rustic cottage charm, shiny brass accents may seem out of place. Instead, use oiled bronze; this popular choice will complement this style nicely. Change out all the hardware at the same time, including the lockset, kick plate, house numbers, and overhead light fixtures, to keep your theme consistent, all the time keeping everything within your chosen style.

Adding color at the entrance gives the most impact for welcoming visitors, and permenant color such as those found in the door or shutters can be easy to maintain. With just a little paint, your front door can go from boring to bold. Do you love the look of a red front door? Why not try purple, bright green, or canary yellow?

Add more color with plantings in containers and garden beds and also with garden accents. Container gardens at the entrance work well with any home style, and it’s easy to experiment with their placement and arrangement. A staggered, asymmetrical placement with small groupings that get bigger as you approach the house leads the eye forward. Using colorful pots can add pizzazz particularly when planted with flowers with colors that complement.

Whether you are accentuating a traditional, relaxed, or formal look, be sure to maintain the look. Highly decorative pedestal urns will look out of place in the front garden of a contemporary-style home. Likewise, mirrored planters will not work well for a cottage-style home. A pair of pots can frame a front door with formality. For a more relaxed style, add layers of planters beyond the front steps. Finishing touches like hanging baskets from the roof eaves, flowers in window boxes, or arrangements on the porch will that can work with many home styles leaves an impact on your visitors.

Just because you are working within your home’s style, it doesn’t mean you can’t inject some of your own personality when you are refining your home’s curb appeal. Garden art, boulders, or a bench can express your uniqueness. I have a fountain in my entryway which runs most months of the year. Accent lighting in trees or on the house and walkways can add some personality to your house at night, too, and possibly create a different vibe for evening visitors.

Well-maintained garden beds and borders are a must for good curb appeal. Keep beds weeded, pruned, and top-dressed with fresh mulch. It doesn’t matter how complementary the plants in your front garden are to your home or what color your front door is if the grounds aren’t kept up well.

Go with your instincts when choosing the colors, the style of pots, the design of accent pieces, and the arrangement of lighting. With just a little attention to these details, you can begin creating curb appeal that reflects your personality, even before you open the door and say, “Welcome.”

SIDEBAR

Too many homeowners play it safe when adding curb appeal. Why not express who you are as a gardener? If you love the color orange, paint your door orange. My eleven-year-old daughter recently did a survey of door colors (informal at best) and announced that the three most popular colors were brown, black, and white. How utterly boring! Mind you, my door is brown—but there are chartreuse accents that pop out against the brown to bring happy, vivid color to all who enter. A small swatch of color can speak volumes about your vibrant personality. And remember, it’s only paint. If you don’t like it, it’s easy to change again. (If appropriate, consult with your homeowner association before changing colors on your home. There may be neighborhood rules to follow.)

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