Simple Tips for Creating Great Curb Appeal

  • Difficulty Rating: Beginner
Simple Tips for Creating Great Curb Appeal

At some point, you’ve driven by or visited a house that just grabbed your attention the moment you saw it.

I’m not talking about the look of the house itself per se. I’m referring to the overall good feeling or karma you experienced as you took in the view. You can give “curb appeal” credit for that.

Curb Appeal is just what the name implies. The appeal of a house and landscape as you view it from the street or curb. It has nothing to do with the size or grandeur of the house. Instead, it relates to the sense of balance and harmony of the landscaping with the house; call it the ying and yang. It’s often a personal experience, sometimes difficult to put into words. Many times what gives a house curb appeal are the collective subtleties throughout the landscape. But here are some specifics to help you zero in on making your own landscape more curb appealing.

When plants and trees are of an appropriate size to the house, they are “in scale”. They are neither too large nor small. Trees and shrubs shouldn’t overpower the house, yet at the same time, you don’t have to strain to notice them.

I refer to balance in a landscape as visual weight. You don’t have to have a mirror, symmetrical image of the right side plantings with the left, although in a formal landscape this is often the case. For most homes, an informal landscape is more appropriate and inviting from the street. Symmetry can still be achieved by placing trees and shrubs or even flowers so that generally what’s on one side mimics the other, through size, form, layers, texture and color.

In a formal landscape, straight lines are the norm rather than the exception. But curb-appealing homes most often are characterized by soft eye pleasing curved walks and beds. They seem to say, stroll on up here, have a seat and stay a while; you’re welcome here. Conversely, (to me anyway), straight lines say, hurry up, get your business done and move on. Now I realize that seems a bit harsh, and it is an over generalization but it makes my point.

Odd Numbers
When planting beds, especially when using shrubs or trees, think in terms of odd numbered quantities. From a design standpoint, our eye tends to be more comfortable with odd numbers of plants such as 1,3,5…9,etc. In most home landscapes, a more informal, asymmetrical look and feel is appropriate. Odd numbered plantings help to accomplish this. The exception would be a formal landscape design when you are deliberately trying to achieve symmetry in which case, even numbers and mirror images work best.

One of the easiest ways to help create curb appeal is by choosing plant colors that compliment the house, without being distracting. In fact, in a house with curb appeal, the landscape plants blend together seamlessly with the house color scheme. Don’t place much weight on flower color. That is fleeting. Instead choose plants for their foliage color, and remember to consider their fall display.

On the theme of casual balance, layers mimic nature and nature is the best case of curb appeal on a grand scale. Layers abound, from groundcovers up to the tallest trees, up to seven layers total. Don’t feel like you must include every layer in your curb appealing landscape but its not hard to do and the variety will make such a positive difference.

Speaking of variety, landscapes that are pleasing to the eye do so by mixing it up. Having said that, you can easily overdo it. Just like with loud colors, too many plant types can be confusing and distracting to the eye. A few groupings of different plants, trees and shrubs, provide enough change without overdoing it.
If you’re ready to add some personality and charm to your front yard start by asking yourself, what’s not working in the current landscape? Then apply the concepts above and you’re on your way to having your own curb appealing landscape.