Curb Appeal on a Budget: Landscaping Made Easy

When it comes to “pride of ownership” in any Canadian home or neighbourhood, there are traditionally two universal elements required: time and money.

And while ample dollars can help you save time by hiring pros to perfect your landscaping, hardscaping, paving, fencing, painting and more— if you have the time to spare, there are jobs you can tackle to help create your own high-impact curb appeal…all you need is a dose of creativity, a bit of sweat equity and a few bucks.

A home with just a basic lawn or builder's “landscaping” may need some tweaking if you're looking for modern curb appeal. Landscaping is your chance to create a warm welcome for visiting guests (or a positive first impression for potential buyers).

Ed Hansen of Hansen Lawn & Garden is an Ottawa-based contractor who has been in business for more than 25 years and is the regional President for Landscape Ontario. Hansen told the Ottawa Citizen making the right landscaping and hardscaping moveswithin budget and, more importantly, within your neighbourhood's style, can dramatically increase the value of your home.

Consider these budget-and curb-friendly tips to upgrade your own curbside facade.

Planter perfect

Using planters is a great option to add a pop of colour and foliage to your landscape when on a budget. Whether you build wooden planter boxes for an easy raised garden or choose ornamental pots and pillar-style planters, you'll see curb appeal added instantly. Wrought-iron planters will stand the test of time, but they can weigh a ton, while plastic or polyethylene are attractive options and can be moved around for a refreshed look.

Planting anew

With so many beautiful varieties of flowers, shrubs and trees to choose from, it's easy to go over budget. When sourcing plants from nurseries, farmers' markets or even bigbox retail stores, consider affordable bedding plants like coleus and hostas, or bushy flowers such as the Paeonia (peony) all of which are easy to maintain, cover a lot of area and can grow in any province across Canada.

Cutting, weeding & pruning

You can make a huge difference by rolling up your sleeves, powering up your yard tools and getting a little dirty. Overgrown lawns are eyesores and patchy lawns are often an easy fix with seed and feed: just add water.

If you notice weeds coming up through cracks, crevasses or in between flower beds and bushes, they need to be pulled. There are many bio-friendly products and safe homemade solutions to make this process less arduous and you could consider strategically placing landscaping fabric under garden beds and patio stones for extra protection against unwanted weeds.

When it comes to trimming and pruning, go wild with the clippers and shears. Not only can an overgrown tree or shrub block light, it may affect the overall look of your home from the street. Greenery within arm's reach is easy to trim, but be realistic about identifying areas that will need a ladder (safety first). If you don't have the tools you need, consider renting them or hiring a professional.

Edging to success

Edging is often overlooked when planning for curb appeal but is a great way to define specific areas and use as a guide to mow along. To achieve the look, grab your shovel and start shaping—a power edger can also be used (or rented) for going around pavers and flower beds to delineate areas and make sharp, crisp lines.

Carving out the turf directly is one way of edging, but you can also use pre-made plastic edging, stone or mulch. Mixing and matching and using different edging materials can help make your property pop.

Find inspiration

When choosing new flora for your front yard, consider taking a stroll through your neighbourhood for inspiration. You'll quickly get an idea of which plants and flowers work within your region and how your neighbours complement their home's aesthetic in terms of colour palettes, shapes and sizes. Keep in mind: often, that impressively gorgeous flower bed is the result of an avid gardener's passion. So if you're looking for curb appeal that's low maintenance, do your research and choose durable and low-maintenance plants if you don't plan to be gardening every weekend.

At the end of the day, whether you're looking to spruce up your home's exterior for your own enjoyment or if you're getting ready to sell, you'll never regret putting in some sweat equity and TLC.

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