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Curb Appeal on a Dime

Does your house or yard need a face-lift? These budget-friendly ideas will help you add interest to your home’s exterior—without a high price tag.

Illuminate pathways.

Curb appeal doesn’t have to end when the sun goes down—you can highlight pathways and landscaping with lights. This improves safety and can dramatically boost your home’s nighttime appearance.







Landscape for curb appeal.

Smooth the transition from street to front steps with these inexpensive landscaping ideas. A curved path to the home’s entry provides a pleasing welcome for visitors. Surround a walkway with midsize shrubs and flowers for plant groupings that have serious impact.



Add container plants.

Improve your front yard by turning your home’s entry into an inviting focal point with a few well-chosen plants on the front porch. Vary the container and plant sizes, and arrange them on multiple levels.








Replace old walkways.

Replace a dull or cracked concrete walkway with a fresh path made of stone or brick. Visitors access this front door via square pads of bluestone trimmed with brick. Narrow strips of turfgrass separate the squares, which step up slightly to follow the change in grade from the street to the house.






Get a healthy lawn.

If your lawn is sickly or choked with weeds, consider installing new sod. Remove the old lawn, lay new sod and keep it well-watered for a few weeks.








Create an appealing porch.

If you’re lucky enough to have a sizable front porch, it’s easy to transform it into a simple but inviting outdoor room. Add a swing, chairs or comfortable bench to create a conversation nook. Keep the porch free of clutter and ready for cozy gatherings.




Accent with color.

When repainting, take the opportunity to choose fresh hues or add an accent color to your exterior color scheme. Paint test patches before committing; some colors look great on a sample card but may be too intense for a house.








Restore an asphalt driveway.

To liven up a worn driveway, patch and seal the surface, filling holes and cracks with asphalt patch. Applying a fresh sealer can also make a driveway look new again.





Upgrade the garage door.

Sectional doors often feature windows in an upper panel, and some higher-end versions mimic the look of traditional carriage-house doors. If a new garage door isn’t an option, add character to the building with a pergola, new lighting or fresh paint.





Install a prefab trellis.

For exterior design on a dime, use an arbor or trellis to give form to your yard and complement your plantings.








Power-wash exterior surfaces.

Take a weekend to clean your home’s exterior. Aluminum, wood and vinyl siding are safe surfaces to power-wash, as are wood decks and concrete sidewalks. If you don’t own a power-washer, you can rent one from your local home improvement store.




Coordinate hardware.

Address numbers, mailboxes, locksets and porch lights are simple upgrades. These elements are small but add a lot of finesse to your look. Keep the colors and finishes consistent so the pieces look like an ensemble of accessories, not a batch of mismatched hardware.







Plant trees.

If you’re preparing to sell your house, consider adding a few small ornamental trees. If you’re staying put, think long-term and try oaks, maples, honey locust or other large species suitable for your region. Another option: fast-growing species or small ornamental trees such as pagoda dogwood, redbud, flowering pear, river birch or Japanese maple can add dramatic interest without requiring years to become established.



Beautify the driveway.

The colors and textures of the plants shown here soften the driveway’s expanse and make it look less utilitarian. Groundcovers and low-growing plants are best in beds along the sides (or in the middle!) of the driveway.








Bring style to a slope.

Cheap-looking materials detract from a yard’s appearance. For sloped areas that need terracing, use cut stone or precast decorative wall blocks for a high-end look.





Wow with windows.

There are numerous ways to increase the appeal of your windows. Shutters add style to plain windows, while painted trim in a modern color creates playful contrast. Window boxes filled with lush foliage also bring life to a home’s exterior.







Doll-up the driveway.

For an affordable driveway face-lift, line the pavement with plant containers that can be easily updated each season. Here, solar-powered lanterns between the planters provide flexible lighting.


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