If you're thinking about selling your home, your front yard should be your first project. Landscaping is the frame through which potential buyers will see the house for the first time, whether they're driving around the neighborhood or browsing real estate websites. Even a small investment can have big returns, but you need to keep in mind what people are looking for.
Simplicity Is Key
Your yard only needs to look well-kept and ready for any given homeowner to make it their own. If a buyer gets the impression that they'll need to put in a lot of work to make a peculiar space fit their style, they may be turned off to the home. A lot of landscaping happens year by year, one plant at a time, and this can lead to an inconsistent look. Make sure that each piece works as part of the whole and come up with a theme that matches the style of the house.
Keep It Native
If you're looking to add some greenery, research your state's natural ecosystem. Native plants provide habitats for local birds and have much lower maintenance costs than foreign plants. With environmental concerns consistently in the news, the "naturescaping" movement is growing stronger. While it might not be wise to cultivate a prairie in front of a home you're about to sell, a listing that boasts native trees, bushes, and flowers will certainly appeal to many.
Hardscaping Is Transformative
If you're spending a fortune to keep your grass green, put hardscaping first. Flagstone is affordable, easy to install, and looks great around a wide variety of homes. Paving bricks are a bit more labor intensive but can give your driveway a historic look. Be careful when combining textures, however. Any more than two types of rocks will probably give you a chaotic Flintstones look.
Don't Forget About Water
Before you dig anywhere, consult your city's drainage requirements and research methods to make rainwater go where you want it. The wrong hole can flood your basement, erode your foundation, and dry out your plants, but a well-placed rain garden can prevent all of the above. Porous paving materials, such as flagstone, bricks, and interlocking pavers, allow water to infiltrate the ground rather than overload the storm drain.
Light It Up
Some buyers may not be able to stop by until the evening and you'll want to make sure they can see all your hard work. Outdoor lighting around a patio or walkway can create a warm atmosphere for grilling out or entertaining friends and brightening those dark corners can discourage burglars. Don't overdo it though -- be deliberate when illuminating a path, providing just enough light to get from one point to the next. Uplighting interesting trees or bushes can also give your yard some color at night.