How to Improve Curb Appeal on a Budget

Kip Tips

How to Improve Curb Appeal on a Budget

Make changes to your home's exterior that are big on impact and small in cost.

Improving your home’s curb appeal can really pay off. In fact, exterior projects such as new entry doors, windows and siding are consistently ranked among the most valuable home-improvement projects in Remodeling magazine's annual Cost vs. Value Report. That’s because these projects can make your home stand out to potential buyers, improve its appraisal value and help you fetch top dollar if you sell.

SEE ALSO: Spring Home Maintenance Checklist

Even if you're not planning to move any time soon, it never hurts to make a few improvements to your home’s exterior including sprucing up your property's landscaping. And it doesn't have to cost a lot – or anything at all – to do so. Follow these steps to boost your home’s curb appeal on a budget.

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Remove clutter. Take a picture of your home to see it with fresh eyes to identify what improvements need to be made, says Sheila Schmitz, an editor for home remodeling and design site Make note of anything that’s adding clutter to your yard or entrance, such as overcrowded and overgrown shrubs and trees. Simply cleaning up existing planting beds, pruning bushes and trimming branches might make a big difference in your property’s appearance – and will only cost you your time.

Review the scale of your outdoor accessories. One large container planting is usually more effective when it comes to improving your home’s curb appeal than three small ones, Schmitz says. That’s because it can be seen from the street better than the smaller pots. So rather than spend money on a lot of small accessories, choose one or two large ones that make a statement to get more bang for your buck. This approach also applies to your address numbers. Schmitz recommends replacing small ones with big, bold numbers that can have a big impact at a relatively small cost.


Paint or replace your front door. If you’re door is in good shape, painting it an eye-catching color is an inexpensive way to make your home stand out. Schmitz recommends painting your door black if your home is white or a light color; red for a gray house; and blue for natural wood, stone or brick exteriors. Replacing your door also will pay off. Steel doors cost $1,162, on average, but the return on investment is 96.6%, according to the 2014 Cost vs. Value Report. Plus, a new steel door can help improve your home’s energy efficiency.

Consider native plants. Planting a bed of plants in front of your home can add tremendous curb appeal, Schmitz says. Although there’s a cost to adding flowers and shrubs to your yard, you can save money in the long run by choosing the right ones. Plants that are native to your region will require less water and maintenance because they’re adapted to your climate and soil conditions, Schmitz says. You can keep costs under control by buying wildflower seeds or bulbs, and smaller shrubs or trees. The latter are not only are cheaper but also should acclimate better than larger, more-established plants. Your Cooperative Extension office may be a good free source of information about plants that are native to your area, and has a regional plant finder list and native plant nurseries list.

Ask about discounts when buying in bulk. When I have purchased several pots of the same plant from independent nurseries, I typically have received a 20% discount – often without even asking. So if you plan on buying several bushes, ornamental grasses or flowers to spruce up your yard, call several lawn and garden centers to ask if they’ll give you a discount for your bulk purchase.

Take advantage of freebies. You might be able to improve the look of your yard with free mulch and free trees. Many cities, counties and utility companies don't charge residents for mulch made from recycled leaves or wood from tree trimmings, as long as homeowners pick it up. If you want the mulch brought to your home you'll probably need to pay a delivery fee. And some utility companies offer customers free trees to help reduce energy use through strategic planting that provides shade (and thus lowers cooling bills) during warmer months. Learn more about freebies for your lawn and garden.