By Barbara Ballinger
In today's market, sellers have to work harder to persuade buyers that their property is worth the bite.
Landscape designer Michael Glassman has cooked up a recipe for guaranteed curb appeal.
1. Add splashes of color. With every changing season, a landscape should provide a new display of colors, textures, and fragrances. "It's best to use one or two and repeat them," Glassman says. Example: white iceberg roses that bloom in spring, summer, and fall as a backdrop; in front, a contrasting punch of purple salvia or lavender that will flower at the same time; and as an accent, a crape myrtle tree that provides changing leaf colors in fall and interesting branches come winter.
2. Size trees and shrubs to scale. These should be planted in the right scale for the house so that they don't block windows, doors, and other architectural features on the home's facade. A large two-story house can handle a redwood, Chinese pistache, sycamore, or scarlet oak, but a one-story cottage is better paired with a flowering cherry, crabapple, or eastern redbud. Too many trees cast too much shadow and cause potential buyers to worry about maintenance and costs.
3. Maintain a perfect lawn. A velvety green lawn demonstrates tender loving care, so be sure sellers' homes don't have brown spots. Some rocks, pebbles, boulders, drought-tolerant plants, and ornamental grasses will generate more kudos, especially in drought areas.
4. Light up the outside. Good illumination allows buyers to see a home at night and adds drama. Sellers should use low-voltage lamps to highlight branches of specimen trees, a front door, walk, and corners of the house. But less is better. The yard shouldn't resemble an airport runway.
5. Let them hear the water. The sound of water appeals to buyers, and you shouldn't just reserve this for your backyard. A small fountain accented with rocks provides a pleasant gurgling sound, blocks street noise, and is affordable.
6. Use decorative architectural elements. A new mailbox, planted window boxes, and a low fence wrapped in potato vines add cachet, particularly during winter months when fewer plants blossom. Colors should complement the landscape and home. Just don't overdo it: Too much can seem like kitschy lawn ornaments.
Source: Michael Glassman, landscape designer, Michael Glassman and Associates, Sacramento, Calif., http://www.michaelglassman.com/
Published: April 2009 REALTOR magazine
Reprinted from REALTOR® magazine with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.