I'm looking for some curb appeal.

VJL147(5)April 28, 2011

Need help please. I'm looking to give my home a little curb appeal. I'm not very good in this department. Any help or suggestions would greatly be appreciated. I'm thinking about adding a tree (not sure which kind) and also adding some more perennials. Any ideas would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance. The link below is a picture of my house.

Here is a link that might be useful: http://s1217.photobucket.com/albums/dd392/vjl147/

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Explain what you mean by "curb appeal".

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 6:16PM
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I think your home has plenty of curb appeal. Is it an older home or a new home designed to look "classic". The only thing I would change is remove the plant at the landing of the steps and maybe add a plant with some height on either side of the steps next to the rails.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 9:13PM
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Inkognito, Well I'm not sure what I mean exactly by curb appeal. I guess what I'm thinking is I would like to add a small tree to the right currently where the tree stump is now. I had a plum tree there that didn't fare to well after our addition. Any suggestions on a type of tree. Also I thought about adding some perennials around it.

Swoodard, My home was built in the 50's it used to be a 1 1/2 story Cape Cod until we did the addition. I see what your talking about with the Boxwood blocking the stairs however, I have Salvia's that fill the area in just to the left of the Boxwood to make it all flow. I like your idea of changing the Boxwood's to a taller plant. What are you thinking an Arborvitae? Thanks for all the suggestions.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 10:33PM
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How about a nice window box for the upstairs window and some hanging baskets for front porch? A weeping cherry tree might be nice too!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 12:20PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

The house has a big solid presence. The landscaping, in contrast to the house, is small. Perhaps it's new landscaping and hasn't grown much yet but will look fine in a few years. It would help, I think, to let the shrubs and plants grow into natural shapes rather than clipping them into what are known as "meatballs" (I guess the small ones on the left would be "peas"). Also, when each shrub is so separate, they give more of an impression of smallness and uncertainty than they would if they touched each other or overlapped (as they would, for instance, if you had two rows planted in zig-zags).

I agree with swoodard23 that height is needed, but I would keep the foundation plants below the porch railing. The big bush to the right could be taller, however -- probably should be taller. hypermom's hanging baskets on the porch might cut off too much of the view from the windows -- and I think would accentuate the small size of the foundation shrubs. Instead, perhaps planters on the porch railings, with trailing plants that would hang down toward the small foundation shrubs, giving the effect of larger foundation plantings. [When the foundation shrubs are taller, either omit the porch-rail planters or fill them with non-trailing plants.]

Like swoodard23, I'm not fond of that shrub in front of the porch stairs. It's relatively rare to see front steps that make such a statement but don't seem to go anywhere, due to the lack of a walkway to the sidewalk and the near-invisibility of the walkway to the driveway when viewed from the sidewalk. I hope some of the pros will address how to treat such a situation.

Speaking as an amateur, I'd remove the existing walkway and replace it with a 4' walkway that begins on the street side of the bed next to the grass. It would begin perpendicular to the driveway, then curve to approach the steps from the front. (The walkway should end up being at least as wide as the steps.) That would give you a deep bed on that side, between house and walkway, to play with.


It's possible some of your dissatisfaction -- the lack of curb appeal -- is related to the house rather than the landscaping. To me, the room that juts out over the porch -- perhaps because it's painted a light color -- gives the house a bit of a top-heavy look. If it were painted to match the bricks, the effect would be different. That's not to say it's a problem, just that you might try Photoshopping it and see if it changes how you feel about the curb appeal issue.

But regardless whether you paint the second floor area, I'd suggest painting the front door a color that doesn't merge into the bricks. People should be to be able to find the door easily. When you look at the house, what do you notice first? For me, it's the gray room on the second floor. Second, I notice the railings and pillars on the porch and stairs -- and then the central pillars lead my eyes up to the light gray room on the second floor again! After that, I notice the main windows. Eventually I notice the plants in the front beds. I don't notice the door at all. [Keeping the door brick-colored but painting the trim around the door the medium gray might make the door more noticeable -- though that might depend on the size of the trim.]

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 9:22PM
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Thanks for all the input this has helped. I have thought about adding some shutters to the windows on the second floor so the front bump out isn't so extenuated. I see what you mean on the gray color however, there is Hardy Board siding on the sides of the house that match the color of the front bump out.
Yeah about the door well I just replaced it last fall it is cherry wood along with the brick mold on it. So painting it is not an option. (it was to much hard work staining it.) I like your idea about hanging a basket off the railing with some long plants.
The perennials between the Boxwoods get pretty big in the summer so the bushes do not seem as spaced apart.
Well I guess it's back to the drawing board lol. Thanks again

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 11:29PM
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Maybe something like this?

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   April 30, 2011 at 3:10PM
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Swoodard23, Thanks for the input I like the way that looks. How did you add those items? Photoshop? I like the front walkway from the sidewalk however do I also keep the one on the driveway side. Can you add shutters to the other windows, or do you think it will be to much. I do see what missingtheobvious was talking about how it is a little top heavy. How do I balance that out with the lower level? Thanks again, I love this web site everyone is so helpful. I added a another picture

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   April 30, 2011 at 7:25PM
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Another picture

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   April 30, 2011 at 7:29PM
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I'm not sure how to send multiple pictures. Sorry :)

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   April 30, 2011 at 7:31PM
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Beautiful home, but it needs color. Maybe some hanging pots on the porch. Some colorful low maintenance perennials. Careful, some spread like weeds. Some welcoming furniture on you front porch. Also, I agree, the trim around the door needs to stand out.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2011 at 9:05PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

There are a few things going on here. First, your house itself has design issues that affect its curb appeal that landscaping cannot solve - paint colour is clearly something that could be addressed. Some recent threads on the old house forum discuss paint colours to use with brick with some interesting ideas. A third trim colour would probably be good at minimum, and maybe you can use it around the door. But I honestly don't like your grey, either for the house form or with the brick.

Second, don't confuse landscape decorating with landscape design. The walkway in SWoodard's mock-up is a design change, one that really alters how your house presents and how you can experience the space around it. I must say I have seen about enough of houses with sidewalks coming in sideways from the driveway to the porch. Straight out to the street isn't always necessary, but it's a start. If flowerboxes and perennials satisfy what you came to the forum for, then you are looking for decorating and not design - nothing wrong with that in itself, but so much a taste issue that outsiders really can't help much, and you certainly don't need designers for that - and the point of Inkognito's opening question becomes clear. For the record, though, I can't imagine flower boxes being anything besides a pain in the butt and a hazard to the building envelope, but that's me.

Finally, you were wondering about a tree. A tree can be a wonderful thing, but as some other current threads on this forum show, in the wrong place it can be a nightmare. Sticking a tree in front of the house for no good reason will usually end up being a nightmare, maybe only for a future owner and certainly for the tree. Decide WHY you want a tree. Do you want to hide the house? Screen the windows? Create shade? If none of these things, then site the tree well away from or behind the house. Certainly not directly in front of it from the most commonly viewed direction.


    Bookmark   April 30, 2011 at 11:54PM
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Why, oh why, do builders install those big front steps with invisible walkways? It always looks like they forgot them, leaving people baffled as to how to get to the steps.

To anchor the house into the landscape, make it obvious how you enter:

Remove that meatball shrub that is centered on the front steps.
Widen the sidewalk from the driveway and make a nice "landing" pad in front of the steps that is as wide as the steps and as deep as the steps are wide ... use shrub border and flowers along the paving to make it obvious that the house has a real entry.

OR: Swoodards brick sidewalk is great!

I'd bring the flower and shrubs along the brick all the way to the sidewalk, getting rid of as much grass as possible.

Landscapes should start at the sidewalk, just like house decor starts at the front door.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2011 at 1:35PM
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KarinL, What colors would you recommend. I tired to find some info on the Old House forums but, I was unsuccessful.

About the tree in front. I was thinking for a little shade in the summer and some color in the spring and fall however, I don't want a big tree because I have an Elm tree on the front parkway already. What is your opinion on the shutters? Thanks again for the input. Everyone has been very helpful.


    Bookmark   May 1, 2011 at 1:39PM
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