Springtime can present many difficulties when it comes to curb appeal.

For many areas of the country, this time of year means brown lawns, leafless bushes and trees, and a depressing lack of color.

Yes, we have the hope of the color splashes and lush landscapes that go hand in hand with summer, but what can be done now?

Improving curb appeal has shown to increase not only your property's value, but also the property values of your entire neighborhood.

Whether you are selling or staying put, here are five tips that can help you on your way to a beautiful home.

1. Sidewalks and Driveways:

This may be the first part of your property that your guests or prospective buyers step foot on. Literally.

An affordable, virtually maintenance free option for sprucing up your paths is concrete stain. It can cost around $30 a gallon and requires very little prep work. This is a do-it-yourself project.

Consider picking a color that is in the same color family as that of your home. A blue home could be happily complemented by a gray drive.

Another tip: Fix cracks and uneven sections. This project may require a bit more professional attention, but will give buyers the impression that your entire home, not just the entrace, has been maintained.

2. Accent Door:

It has been called the lipstick on the lady. It's inviting and it draws visitors – or buyers – in to your home. A plain door tends to recede into the background.

Consider a contrasting color to the siding of your home. On the color wheel, green is opposite red and yellow is opposite blue. Don't be afraid to be daring (think a fushcia door on a cream colored home). Just a pint of paint can cover most doors, and if you don't like the result – you can try another color!

3. Trimming Trees:

Stand in front of your home and take a close – and fresh – look at your trees and bushes. Are there branches that have become overgrown and now obstruct the view of the home?

You want your landscaping to complement your home, not hide it. Trees should frame paths and entries. To trim tree branches yourself you can buy a pole pruner or chain saw. Or you can hire a professional, who has experience in shaping trees.

Keep in mind, however, that spring is NOT the time to prune flowering trees or maples. These should be done in late Summer and early Fall.

4. Early Spring Planting:

The last frost date varies by area. It also varies from year to year in that area, but if you feel that your home will not see another frost, then you may be safe to plant a few hardy annuals to add some pops of color to your yard. Even if a frost catches you by surprise – you can cover the plants for the evening to save them from succumbing to the cold.

The plant must also have time to take good root before severe rains come.

Some plants that you can give you an early burst of color:

  • Pansies: these bolts of color can even survive winter in some areas
  • Calendula: these “pot marigolds” are a versatile plant
  • Violets: heart shapes petals
  • Other options: cornflower, foxglove, larkspur, sweet alyssum, dianthus, baby’s breath, bells of Ireland, blue sage, candytuft, celome, forget-me-nots, love-in-a-mist, snow-on-the-mountain, strawflower, and torenia

5. Outdoor Lighting:

Low voltage (12 volt) and solar lighting are great options for improving curb appeal.

There are hundreds of designs of solar lights. These small fixtures are generally set on stakes in the ground and can be used to accent paths or gardens. And they are a great do-it-yourself option.

Also, consider using uplighting on trees to create night-time focal points – great for buyers doing after work drive by inspections!

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