Photo courtesy of David J. Frank Landscape Contracting
Whether you’re planning to sell your home or not, you
should know that “curb appeal” is more than just Realtor-speak.
It’s how you feel about your home when you pull into the drive. How your
blockmates feel about your investment in the neighborhood. And, yes, how
potential homebuyers feel about making your place their own.
Simply put, first impressions and lasting impressions matter equally.
“Whether you are selling now or at a later date, a fresh look always
helps the resale value, not to mention the overall appeal of a
neighborhood,” says Evan Kasper, ASLA, a landscape designer at
Cedarburg’s La Rosa Landscape Company Inc. “The exterior landscaping of
a home is always the first impression one gets when coming to your home.
Why not make it a good one?” And no matter if your budget is limited
(but your imagination isn’t) or you’re ready to invest, Kasper adds,
tapping an expert’s help is always smart spending.
Small stash of cash? Work with what you have, says Kasper.
“A fresh makeover of your front yard’s landscaping will go a long way,”
he says. “Removing old, tired plantings and installing new ones will
completely change the appearance of a home. Another cost-effective
option is to redefine bed edges and install a fresh layer of mulch.”
Giving your existing front door a fresh coat of color and modern
hardware, or if the funds are there, investing in a brand-new entry can
work wonders too. Darker door colors are trending for 2019, with blacks,
rich blues and teals, and warm reds coming to the forefront. Big doors
are big news too, with 10- and 12-foot heights in increased demand.
Ultra-clean lines and pivot hinges add updated interest.
And don’t overlook your windows. Give sills and frames a fresh coat of
paint — or do your home a favor inside and out and invest in new windows
altogether. “One of the first things that gets noticed when looking at a
home is the windows,” says Scott Cline, owner of Germantown’s J&B
Construction Co. Inc. “With the different shapes and styles of windows,
homeowners can give their home added personality and positively impact
the look of their home, matching the home’s architecture to present a
“Beyond their outdated appearance, old, inefficient windows can raise
your energy bill, hinder window operation and cause condensation to form
between the panes of glass,” Cline adds. “Not only do they look
unsightly, but rotting wood can also interfere with the window’s
functionality, which raises energy bill costs and, if left untreated,
causes serious structural damage.”
If you’re thinking a serious makeover, Kasper says low-voltage lighting
adds high-impact appeal — plus an additional added safety feature — and
replacing an uneven, plain-Jane concrete sidewalk with a natural stone
or concrete paver walkway fosters great guest impressions and sets
visitors, quite literally, off on the right foot.
“Indirect lighting and café lighting are very popular,” says Jeff
Hershberger, senior landscape architect with David J. Frank Landscape
Contracting Inc. “Additionally, you now have the ability to dim, change
color, program, and control each individual fixture from your smart
Photo courtesy of La Rosa Landscape Company Inc.
According to Jessica Wilson of David J. Frank, more
people are seeking expanded outdoor living areas in the front of
their home, as well, so they can watch for kids getting on and off
the school bus and more easily and spontaneously interact with their
neighbors. Kasper agrees. “Outdoor living spaces are a big trend —
creating that extension from the inside to the outdoors,” he says.
“Fire features, such as fire pits and fireplaces, are becoming more
common and help extend our cool springs and falls when climate is
unpredictable. In warmer months, structures such as pergolas help
define a space and lend shade to a sunny patio space.”
No matter what size the project, Kasper and Hershberger note, unless you
have serious natural talent, choosing do-it-yourself design over hiring
a professional can actually cost you cash, especially for hardscape and
lighting projects where DIY errors can be dangerous, in addition to
costly. Let the pros create your dream yard and then pitch in on the
labor for a budget-friendly option.
“We offer design services where clients can work together with a
landscape designer/architect to create a plan that they can use to
implement themselves,” Kasper says. “Yes, there is a fee associated with
that design, but you can always tell the homes that are designed by
professionals and amateurs. Having a plan will ensure there is
cohesiveness to their landscape.”
“Professional landscape design is the best and most important money
spent on your landscape,” Hershberger offers. “I’ve seen countless
examples of wrong material selection, both in hardscape and plant
material, and things like stone or brick that don’t go with the home’s
architecture or color palette. Choosing the wrong plant for the existing
water conditions, light conditions or that will overgrow the space they
were planted in is [another] very common and costly mistake.”
Smart Strategies for
Jeff Hershberger, senior landscape architect at David J. Frank Landscape
Contracting Inc., offers these tips for planning your project.
Clean or power wash dirty paving and masonry.
Edge your drive, walks and planting bed lines. Bed edges should be clean
Properly prune, trim and shape overgrown plants.
Choose non-colored hardwood bark mulch. Because mulch is not your main
focal point, avoid colored mulch.
Add pots of annual flowers for blasts of color that can easily be
Renovate your entrance. This can include the front walk, landing and
stoop. Brick or natural stone add tremendous warmth and eliminates an
“urban or industrial look.”
Remove dead and overgrown trees and shrubs and replace with suitable,
properly designed plant material that will grow into a beautiful
landscape in the years to come.
Use lighting to show off your home’s features and warmth at night.