Low-Maintenance Curb Appeal

Curb appeal: you hear about it everywhere. Every real estate agent, every HGTV host, every bossy sister-in-law drills the mantra of curb appeal into home sellers’ heads. First impressions are lasting impressions. It’s a gift to your neighbours. It draws in buyers who might otherwise pass you by. But getting ready to sell your home is stressful already, why add another task to your endless list? Isn’t a freshly-mown lawn enough?


Well, because a small investment in your yard’s landscaping can help land you a sale in a tricky market, or boost your sale price in a crowded field. And here’s a secret that many gardeners neglect to mention — maintaining a few low-maintenance plantings does’t take any more time, effort, or special equipment than maintaining a lawn.

The basic tools you’ll need are a spade and a sharp pair of secateurs. You probably already have work gloves and a garden hose or watering can.

And the potential returns? Well, a recent study in Portland, OR found that mature street-side trees increased homes’ sale prices by an average of $7,130 US — and reduced the sale time by almost two full days. Studies in the UK have also shown trees decrease time spent on the market, and Money Magazine estimates that newly-planted trees offer return-on-investment of 100-200%!

As those studies suggest, the first thing to consider is trees. Even the smallest yard can host one tree, and the larger the lot, the more trees you should consider. For an average quarter-acre city lot, two ornamental trees and two mature, native shade trees are just right.

Reliable deciduous tree choices in Nova Scotia include sugar maple, horse chestnut, serviceberry, and white birch. And don’t neglect the conifers! Blue spruce and hemlock both grow handsomely in our climate. If you’re buying or planting more than one tree, it does make sense to get at least one matching pair.

Next, a few shrubs. They’re a versatile and under-appreciated element of any garden, filling the space between the tree branches and the tops of your flowers or ground cover. Shrubs are also a great place to introduce some more colourful foliage. Any nursery will be able to steer you in the right direction here, but some vigorous shrubs that thrive in Halifax’s climate are the purple leaf sand cherry,       tri-color dappled willow, and silver leaf dogwood.

 Nova Scotia is also the perfect climate for rhododendrons, and literally hundreds of varieties are available — talk to any gardener you know, and they'll give you the low-down on the classics and new cultivars.

Finally, you’ll need to choose a few low-growers. Maybe you’d like to introduce an exotic grass — they come in every colour and height, and require virtually no care — or a foliage plant like coral bells? Or perhaps a low-growing rose bush or clumps of irises or daisies? This is where your imagination can run rampant. Remember that repeating the same plants can help your newfound cub appeal look more intentional and considered — but don’t go overboard! Without variety, your garden will look more like a grocery store parking lot than a lovingly tended front yard.

 Spending just a few hundred dollars on trees, shrubs, and plants can help you love coming home a little bit more, and add thousands to your sale price. Give us a call today if you’d like to speak to our experts about curb appeal.

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