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10 Ways to Improve Your Home's Curb Appeal

From simple upgrades to meticulous landscaping projects to replacing outdated fixtures, there are dozens if not hundreds of ways to enhance your home's appearance. The improvements shown here won't break the bank and can be completed in a morning.

1. Edge the Driveway

Installing a border along the driveway gives it a crisp, elegant look. Edging materials such as bricks, pavers, and stone, or a combination of them, bring a boring asphalt slab to life with color, texture, and decorative designs. The edging can be level with the driveway or elevated to prevent people from driving onto your lawn.

Installing edging is fairly straightforward. You'll need to remove a swatch of grass the width of your edging along both sides of the driveway. Then dig down the depth of your edging plus 2 inches. Add a level 2-inch sand base, then place the edging on top of the sand. Some masonry edging also requires you to sweep sand over the top to fill in the joints.

2. Install Lights Along the Sidewalk

Lights that lead to your entryway welcome guests after dusk while also increasing their safety. Soft exterior lighting also makes your home appear more inviting and friendly, and it can emphasize landscaping and any other features you want to call out to anyone approaching your front door. Plus, the lights improve security by reducing dark spots near your house.

Solar lights are perfect for sidewalks and paths since they don't require running electrical cable or the use of extension cords, don't use any electricity from the house, and are easy to install—you just stick them in the ground. They provide a pleasant ambiance that's not too bright. Most solar lights have a run time of at least 6 hours.

3. Plant Flowers

Flowers along the sidewalk, in front of the house, inside flower boxes, pouring out of hanging baskets, or even in berms and raised garden beds provide a giant boost to your curb appeal. Planting flowers is one of the easiest, most cost-effective ways to make a big impact.

Get recommendations from your local nursery on what plants and flowers thrive in your area. Just because a neighborhood garden center sells particular plants doesn't mean they're a good fit for your region. Sticking with perennials will eliminate the need to buy and plant new flowers every year.

4. Cover Up Dead Spots

The problem with robust trees is that their constant shade, along with their roots hungrily grabbing water and nutrients from the soil, kills the surrounding grass and leaves unsightly dead spots in the lawn. Instead of fighting an unending battle to restore the grass, make life easier on yourself and improve the yard's appearance by planting flowers around the base of the tree that thrive in shade.

Or, for an even easier solution, apply mulch around the tree base. Covering the dead spots next to trees will make your entire yard look healthier. Mulch also helps retain moisture for the roots, but don't apply it too thickly or it can suffocate the roots and provide a home for pests. About 2 inches of mulch is all you need to prevent weeds and provide cover.

5. Install New Garage Doors

Garage doors don't have to be drab or purely functional. Because they have such a commanding presence, upgrading to a garage door with a vibrant color or engaging design can dramatically improve the way your home looks.

The doors are available in wood, steel, or fiberglass in a wide range of styles and colors. You can even get window treatments in your garage door that match the windows in your house.

If you have an old, dilapidated garage door, replacing it can also improve your energy efficiency—modern garage doors are better insulated. They're also stronger, which enhances home safety.

6. Upgrade the Hardware

Don't overlook the simple things that improve curb appeal, such as changing the outdated lock and handle on your front door, replacing rusty light fixtures, and installing decorative house numbers. These accents provide subtle enhancements that help to define the home's overall look.

This doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing deal, either. If you're happy with your door hardware, leave it alone and concentrate on upgrading the porch light fixtures. Even something as simple as placing brushed-nickel address numbers on your siding adds a handsome point of interest.

7. Replace the Mailbox

If you get your mail from a weathered gray box sitting atop a rotting, leaning post in the ground, it's time for a mailbox makeover. A mailbox with personality sitting atop a sturdy new post—or even a brick or stone column—can make an immediate impression. Get a mailbox that matches your home's style, such as contemporary or Craftsman. Planting flowers around the base of the post adds even more appeal.

8. Paint the Front Door

A fresh coat of paint can transform your front door and provide a more welcoming entryway into your house. Or consider replacing it altogether with one that adds some personality. There are myriad ranges of colors, styles, and options, including doors with decorative glass. Adding a storm door with a glass design can also improve the entrance and provide better energy efficiency.

To paint the door, first remove it, lay it flat, and lightly sand it with fine-grit sandpaper. Foam rollers work great for painting doors since they minimize runs and lap marks, but you'll still need to use a brush to work paint into crevices.

9. Cut Back Trees and Bushes

It doesn't matter how attractive your home is if no one can see it. Trees, branches, and shrubs can obscure your home's features and make it seem dark and uninviting. Plus, trees that rub against your house can damage your siding, limit the amount of direct sunlight you receive, and offer a bridge to squirrels, mice, and other critters that want to get onto your roof or under your siding.

Rent or buy a chainsaw to trim back tree branches, and use a hedge trimmer to tame your bushes. Cut away anything covering a window or touching your house. Well-manicured trees and shrubs complement a healthy, green lawn.

10. Build a Berm

Berms allow you to integrate color into your yard via plants, mulch, stone, or trees. You can also give the house an attractive edging with pavers or flagstone. Since berms typically have soft, curving edges, you can create interesting shapes that contrast with the sharp, angular lines of your driveway and house. Berms also break up a flat, uninterrupted yard. You can place a large rock, flagpole or even a short section of a rustic wooden fence in the berm.

Building a berm is similar to starting a garden. You clear away the grass, enrich the soil, and plant your foliage or trees. Then, to dress it up, add mulch, rocks, edging, or anything else you want.

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