Design & Remodeling


STORY BY Kaitlin Motley

Local landscapers spill tricks for turning “For Sale” into “Sold.”

A home’s exterior is the first impression made on potential buyers, and local landscapers have one big piece of advice: Make it a good one. Just a little extra spending money and TLC can make a home stand out on the street and draw people inside. Not only that, but good curb appeal also can add value to a home before the buyer even steps inside. According to Yahoo! Finance, a positive first impression could increase home value by up to 10 percent, and in times like these, homeowners could use the extra oomph.

Taking a few simple steps to increase curb appeal won’t cost a seller more than about $500, says Kevin Dunn, owner of Green Thumb Gardening (7224 High Drive, Prairie Village). And with the added home value, most sellers will make that back—and then some. If you’re preparing to put your home on the market this summer, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Real estate agents give homeowners working orders in preparation to sell: paint, tidy, de-clutter. The same general rules apply to the outside of the home. Think of the yard in the same way you would interior rooms.

“Get everything in as good a shape as you can,” says Kristopher Dabner, CEO and creative director at The Greensman (7213 Troost Ave.). “I think nothing is better than bad. I would rather see the front of a house with nothing but some nice mulched beds and a couple of pots at the front door than some overgrown landscape that looks like something to deal with. If you have a blank slate, it looks like an opportunity.”

Reed Dillon, of Reed Dillon & Associates (1213 E. 24th St., Lawrence) says: “One thing people shouldn’t do is add a lot of landscaping when they’re trying to sell. You’re getting into maintenance there. Don’t think of it as an extreme makeover, just tidy up what you’ve got and make sure it’s clean and presentable.”

Dunn suggests avoiding whimsy. Refrain from hanging a wreath, putting out a welcome mat or incorporating other obvious personal touches. Again, aim to create a blank canvas for the potential buyers.

“I start off with a fresh coat of paint on the front door,” Dillon says. Then clean the glass, check for cobwebs and make sure the exterior lights are working. Dunn says color is key. “Neutrals are safe choices and can provide understated backdrops when you want your landscaping to stand out, but life is too short for a beige door,” he says. He suggests painting the door a cool teal, a bold red or a striking dark bronze. Just be sure the color matches or complements the shutters and trim to avoid clashes.

Next, frame the entry with bright plants in bold pots. Dillon says to look for a larger pot that is 18–20 inches in diameter and fill with a blooming plant in one color.

Dunn says tropical plants can create a pleasing oasis effect. He suggests mandevilla and plumbago, which are vivid but don’t cross the threshold to being overwhelming. “Use lighter, pastel colors in shaded areas and more vibrant, intense colors in sunnier exposures,” Dunn says. “White flowers almost always look good with other flowers and are especially effective in the twilight hours when other colors have faded from view.”

Potted plants also have the power of fragrance. Rosemary, thyme, mint, basil and lavender are good entryway scents to create nostalgia without overwhelming visitors. “It’s the philosophy of making cookies when people come over, for the feelings it evokes,” Dillon says. And the best part of potting plants: “The beauty of putting things in containers is that you can always take it with you,” Dabner says.  

“After you’ve planted the little statue of St. Joseph in the yard, leave the shovel outside just a little longer and plant a few flowers,” Dunn says. Annual flowering plants tend to be less expensive, and they bloom continuously until a frost. Dunn suggests dotting the beds around the front walkway with flowers such as dragon wing begonias, angelonias, zinnias or verbenas so the landscaping leads to the front door.

Flower colors shouldn’t fight with the home’s siding, brick or trim color, or with one another. Dunn cautions against pairing primary colors together, as the contrast is often too harsh. Choose a single color or pair two similar colors, such as yellow and orange, and offset with white.

And when adding color, stick to foliage. “My pet peeve is red mulch,” Dunn says. “You want the plants to stand out, not the mulch.”

See more photos here.