There are a couple of reasons I’ve been thinking about curb appeal lately. One is that a friend got into a bidding war over a suburban house that was builder-grade on the inside, but had an amazing back yard paradise, and a beautifully designed front yard, too. People were falling in love with that setup.
I began to wonder whether the potential buyers had thought about the maintenance that koi pond, gazebo, bird house collection, and dramatic planting collection was going to require. I know my friends were aware, but I bet a lot of people just thought the curb appeal was magic.
But It’s Good to Have a Garden, Right?
We’d just received a request to link to an article from the Loyal Gardener blog, on reasons why having a garden will sell your house. That also got me thinking. The gardeners make a lot of sense, because of course beautiful and well maintained plantings add value to a house, entice potential buyers, and increase home values. I’m not arguing with that.
But, sometimes curb appeal attempts can backfire. Here’s what I’ve observed:
Too much stuff. I’ve seen homes where the plantings are so extensive and lavish that you can’t find the house. And the plants are often so close to the house, or over it, even, that damage can occur (I am thinking about our Ash House when we first got it. All that bamboo, ivy, huge trees that hadn’t been maintained…it hadn’t helped the roof or walls.
The wrong stuff. There are certain plants that I’d like to see banned from “foundation plantings” around houses. Most are plants that people just don’t realize will be BIG plants eventually. I’m looking at YOU red-tipped photinia and YOU magnolia. If I see one more 5-foot tall magnolia planted a few yards away from a house, I might cry. Are people unaware that magnolias are very, very large trees? And the photinias are also really large unless you constantly prune them. My next-door neighbor at Braesgate had a 20+ year battle with the one beside his house. I was really happy to have chosen a DWARF holly in front of my house. Those things needed clipping every couple of years,
and never got over three feet tall. Good plants.
Weird stuff. Guess what? As I’ve mentioned before, neutral sells houses. The same goes for the yard/garden. I happen to like garden gnomes, but I removed my collection while trying to sell my previous house. A few well chosen decorative items are one thing, but stone lions or a bunch of fake dogs staring at potential buyers may not be helpful. (OK, I’d probably buy a house with an old bathtub or toilet used as a planter in front, but that’s just me.)
So yes, try to have some curb appeal to get the houses you work on sold, but as is often the case, moderation is a good idea.
Anyone have any stories to share about curb appeal gone wrong? I’d love to read about them.