12 Ways Landscaping Can Enhance Curb Appeal

Real estate professionals talk about curb appeal a lot. It's what makes a house attractive and inviting. Here are 12 ways smart landscaping can help beautify your home.

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Vary the Height

Many yards are flat and boring. You can add interest by varying the height—not only of plants themselves but the height of the ground as well. A mound, swale or berm is a perfect way to accomplish that. Add a few rocks and plants of different sizes, and you immediately have more curb appeal. Plus: Check out the best brush pruning tips for healthy bushes.

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Thiti Wongluang/Shutterstock

Dress for Success

A blank wall is boring—indoors or outdoors—so go ahead and dress it up for more curb appeal. This picture is a good example of how containers and hanging planters can turn blah into beautiful. Which side of the wall do you find more attractive—the one with or without plants? Check out this collection of colorful plants to brighten up your landscape.

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On the Edge

Whether you’re working with a formal, geometric-shaped bed or a more informal, rounded bed like this one, put a clean edge on it. This helps distinguish the bed from the lawn area and the crisp lines are more attractive visually. Add some contrast with the mulch of your choice.

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Shear Elegance

Neatly clipped hedges are a sign that you care. And they go so beautifully with formal landscapes and even with designs like this one, which includes formal and informal elements. In this case, the hedge serves two purposes: it creates a stage for other plants and it acts as edging, directing foot traffic to the entryway. These are our best bush pruning tips for healthier shrubs.

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Be Up Front About It

A front-yard landscape with curb appeal doesn’t necessarily end at the entryway. When there’s room, bring a bed out front, where it’s better seen from the window. This also allows you the freedom to create a uniquely shaped bed that isn’t restricted to the planting pockets around your home’s foundation. For instance, this homeowner was able to plant a rounded bed to offset the rectangular shape of the house.

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hanging plants on front porch

Use All Available Space

These homeowners could have stopped with the perennials and annuals in front of the porch. But by adding hanging planters, they effectively use more space. This also helps connect the house and garden visually. And, of course, it adds more ambiance for those seated on the porch itself. Check out our small-space landscaping ideas.

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Frame Up

Well-positioned trees frame a house to show it at its best. Unless you’re going for a formal look, this is best done with an asymmetrical look as seen here with a pyramidal conifer on one side balanced by a rounded tree and smaller mounded tree on the other. Need to trim a limb high off the ground? Try this tree-trimming hack.

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Add Some Structure

A fence can be a decorative, as well as practical, addition to a yard. The trick is to pick one that complements the house (in this case, a white picket fence goes perfectly with the cottage style of the house). Planting around the fence helps integrate it into the overall landscape. And a visually distinctive arbor makes it plain where the entrance is—so the fence seems more like an accessory and less like a barrier. Take a look at these 10 modern fence ideas for your yard.

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Suzanne Tucker/Shutterstock

Artistic Flourish

Topiaries—plants sheared into highly stylized shapes—is a fun way to bring some curb appeal to your landscape. And you don’t even have to create them yourself—many nurseries offer topiaries to go. As with anything unusual, a little can go a long way. Avoid the temptation to have “one of everything.” In this case, there are only two primary shapes used: pyramidal and rounded.

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Light up the Night

Curb appeal doesn’t have to disappear when the sun goes down. Savvy landscape lighting can keep the show going. You can illuminate a path, entryway or a focal point plant such as this conifer topiary, which in this case is backlit by indoor lighting coming from large windows. Here is a collection of breathtaking outdoor landscape lighting for your yard.

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Have a Seat

Even if you never use it, a chair or bench by an entryway has a psychological benefit. It says, “Welcome! Why don’t you sit a spell?” Go ahead and hide the chair in the photo with your thumb and see if the scene doesn’t immediately seem less inviting. That’s what seating does for curb appeal. 10 easy outdoor chairs you can build.

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Make it Memorable

Low hedges and bright flowers direct visitors to their destination, while large urns spill out graceful ambiance with flowers and tree-form shrubs. It’s a memorable entrance—carved out of a small space and without a lot of money or work. Now THAT’S the kind of curb appeal we can all appreciate! Inexpensive landscaping for attractive entryways.

Luke Miller
Luke Miller is an award-winning garden editor with 25 years' experience in horticultural communications, including editing a national magazine and creating print and online gardening content for a national retailer. He grew up across the street from a park arboretum and has a lifelong passion for gardening in general and trees in particular. In addition to his journalism degree, he has studied horticulture and is a Master Gardener.