Thinking of selling your home in the next few years? Tired of the neighbors’ rose bushes looking better than yours? Finally have some extra cash around to spend on your house and yard? Whatever your reasons for wanting to improve your home’s curb appeal, you’ll find your area’s spring home and garden show to be wildly helpful.
Spring home and garden shows aren’t just an opportunity to drag your kids to the expo hall for a hot dog. These events are a great opportunity to take a look at how changes to your home and garden may look at scale. During these shows, expo halls often contain entire model homes, as well as new product launches, local service provider displays, and guest appearances by industry celebs.
The internet is a wonderful resource for research, but it’s no substitute for seeing a whole wall of pre-stained cedar shingles on the side of a demo house. Until VR catches up with merchandisers’ wildest dreams, it can be hard to imagine how major cosmetic decisions will look unless they’re on display in front of you.
Why You Should Care about Curb Appeal
Even if you don’t fall into one of the categories we mentioned above, it’s worth stopping to think about your home’s curb appeal.
Simply put, “curb appeal” is how attractive your house and property look from the street. While interior changes that impact the day-to-day functionality of your home can be easy to weave into your home improvement plans, exterior edits often feel less urgent. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t budget them in.
Improving your home’s curb appeal increases its value. Whether you’re considering listing your house for sale this summer or next year, spring is a great time to assess how your home looks from the street (and what you might do to give a better first impression). Even if you’re not planning to sell, there’s a benefit to making your house a place you love coming home to!
Your spring home maintenance efforts may unearth opportunities to increase your home’s curb appeal, but it can be hard to know where to begin. A home and garden show near you may be just the place to peruse your options.
Improving your home’s curb appeal increases its value.
What’s a Home and Garden Show, Anyway?
Home and garden expos have been popping up around the country since the 1970s. In northern states where the building season is limited, these provide an opportunity for homeowners to see the latest trends and meet contractors in person. This “one-stop shop” opportunity to join a builder’s queue for the months ahead translates well across climes, and you can now find a home and garden show in almost every state.
Show dates vary by region (as does the start of spring), but in general, home and remodeling shows are a great place to get ideas for summer landscaping, get deals on outdoor items, and chat with experts about everything from gardening to plumbing to decorating to buying or selling a home.
Let’s look at the basics of home and garden shows, then dig into five ways they can help you boost your home’s curb appeal.
5 Things to Know Before You Go to a Home and Garden Show
To locate the nearest home and garden show this weekend, do a quick internet search. The popularity of these events means that they’re available all across the country, and each is tailored to its region. Here’s what you need to know before heading to your local home and remodeling show:
- Look for deals on admissions. Many shows, like the Birmingham Home Show, offer discounted entry fees to those who subscribe to their email list. Some shows also offer gratis entrance to veterans and members of the Red Hat Society.
- Most shows charge between $5 and $10 for entry.
- Wear your walking shoes. Expo halls that host these events tend to be the biggest in town, so you should be prepared to do some walking.
- Most events list their vendors and a map of the hall for you to peruse in advance. For example, check out this handy, sortable map from the Spring Home and Garden Show in Huntsville, Alabama.
- You don’t have to be ready to buy. Making changes to your home – big or small – can be a challenge. If you enter the expo hall in the mindset of an explorer checking out new terrain, you’ll find the plethora of options less overwhelming. It may also help to write down a short list of things you’re looking to learn more about to help guide your visit (below, we offer a few questions to get you started, based on what you’re hoping to update at home).
Once you get to the home and garden show, there will plenty of ideas and visual displays to get your idea machine running. To help you focus your efforts on upping your curb appeal, consider these five approaches.
1. To Up Your Curb Appeal, Go Green
The first rule of curb appeal is that you’ve got to take care of your yard. Especially if you’re looking to sell your home in the near term, you should consider improving the health of your lawn.
If your lawn is wild and your neighbors keep theirs trim, you may be signaling to others that you have a poor or contentious relationship with those around you. This may be unappealing to homebuyers.
Once your lawn is under control, consider adding landscaping. Functional landscaping that contributes to the amount of shade or establishes a border with neighboring properties can add value to your property. There are a few ways to achieve this:
- Plant a tree. Trees count as part of a landscaping effort, but they can be a separate decision altogether. Most kinds of large trees add shade to your home and interest to your yard. Alternatively a row of conifers may offer privacy. Whatever their purpose, be sure not to plant your new trees too close to your house or nearby power lines. It’s also important to be mindful of foliage and roots, as the latter may spread up to three times the crown's width. Roots that push against your foundation or burrow under a slab can cause serious structural issues down the line. You’ll want to consult experts on tree location as this depends on what kind of tree you’ve selected.
- Plant a garden. Depending on where you live, which pests and local fauna you have to contend with, and your level of interest in growing your own food, a garden can be a great way to swap out unused space for productive land use. Raised-bed gardens with defined borders are a great way to add an impermanent feature to your yard.
- Add flowers. Often less functional than delightful, a flowerbed can be a visually appealing barrier between sections of your yard. If you enjoy gardening and have the energy to replant your flowers every spring, annuals are a great choice for you. If you’d prefer a longer return on your investment, perennials may help you cut down on the amount of time spent laboring in the garden, as these come back every year, seeded by your last planting. It can be difficult to nurse plants through extreme weather, so a more sustainable alternative is to plant your flowers in pots or hanging planters so that you can move them into a semi-shaded porch or under cover in extreme rain.
For advice on the best flora for your yard and region, be sure to ask the horticultural experts at the home and garden expo. They’ll want to know about your soil type, sun exposure, and water sources, so make sure you familiarize yourself with these aspects of your property before the event.
2. Clean Your Curb
Did you hate raking as a child but see the necessity of leaf removal as an adult? It’s normal to feel hesitant to devote a Saturday morning to picking leaves out of your gutters, but these types of chores have the most immediate visual impact. To that end:
- Clean your gutters. There are two great reasons to clean your gutters: it looks messy to have twigs and leaves sticking out of your roofline, and leaving debris up there can clog your gutters, increasing the potential for costly water damage or roof leaks.
- Wash your siding. Especially if you have mulch abutting your house, you may see dirt build up the sides of your house after the rainier winter months. If your siding is in good condition, consider renting a pressure washer to freshen up your home’s exterior. It’s cheaper and less time consuming than repainting, and using this tool is straight-up fun.
- Weed your walk. Grass and weeds fill the cracks between the stones, bricks, or concrete blocks that line your front walk. Over time, their encroachment can cause permanent damage. To save money, stay on top of your weeds. Lining your walk with gravel or small stones helps cut down on weed proliferation.
- Trim your lawn’s edges. It may feel like the most complicated part of the lawn-grooming maneuver, but it’s worth your time. Keep the edges of your lawn clean and free of debris to make trimming an easy part of mowing your lawn. We recommend using a small push mower or weed wacker to groom the edges of your lawn before starting in on mowing the main green spaces.
Home and garden shows offer many tools and tricks for lawn care. Take advantage of the experts on hand to ask them your questions about how to fend off weeds and which gloves will last season after season.
3. Update Your Entryways to Make a Good First Impression
Your entryways are the introduction to your dwelling. To make sure these give a strong first impression:
- Get a new door (or a fresh coat of paint). Door fashions change like the racks at a retail store. There are regular shifts in the popularity of windows, peep holes, panels, and knobs. A door swap doesn’t have to break the bank, but it can offer a huge cosmetic lift.
- Update your garage door. Like your front door, but bigger and easier to fold! The surface area your garage door covers is significant. It will make a major impact on how your house appears from the street. Don’t neglect it when you take out your paint brush.
- Update your shutters. If you have shutters on your house, make sure they’re in good shape and securely fastened. If your shutters are askew or covered in chipped paint (or if a few panels have been lost to the winds of time), you should consider an update. If your window frames need a coat of paint, don’t hesitate to include them in this effort.
You can’t test the weight of a door online, but you can at the expo hall. Ditto for getting a sense of whether that shade is too green for shutters. If you’re in the market for an upgrade to your exterior doors or windows, the home and garden show is a great time to gauge how these look in the real world and how easy they are to open and close.
4. Upgrade the Details for Maximum Impact from the Street
The devil is in the details, and there are many to consider when it comes to the exterior of your home. These three can help boost curb appeal without breaking the bank:
- Swap out your mailbox. This may sound like the last place where you’d think to spend a few dollars, but upgrading your mailbox can go a long way toward making your home look well-kept from the street.
- Update your house numbers. Making your house number easy to read from the street is only one goal. It’s important to pick numbers that are visible without being jarring. Swap in a fresh set of digits to update the first impression your home gives.
- Update hardware. If you don’t want to replace your entire door, consider changing the hardware. The anatomy of an exterior door is complex, and there are many small updates you can make beyond changing the style of the handle or knocker.
It’s easy to overlook details from a distance, but home and garden show displays will help you visualize which special touches will be the most impactful from a dozen yards away.
These events are also a great opportunity to find out whether the thing that looks best to you online looks as good in your hands. Plastic mailboxes are a great example of this: they may be lightweight and easy to install, but do they seem insubstantial in person? You’ll find out at the expo hall.
5. Consider Symmetry
Scientists agree that symmetry is appealing, and Instagram confirms it. Think carefully about what you want your yard to look like before you head out for an expo or start digging to plant a row of trees.
Whether or not the front of your house is symmetrically designed, consider how these elements might add balance or symmetry when viewed from the curb:
- Define (or redesign) a front path. This functional addition can add a lot of curb appeal. A front path shows the way you’ll enter your home every day. For a potential buyer, that narrative can hold a lot of appeal.
- Light your landscaping. Many of us don’t think about lighting until the neighbors put up their annual winter light extravaganza (or until the bulb in the yard light burns out). But that doesn’t mean those are your only outdoor lighting opportunities. Lining your front path or uplighting the shrubbery is a great way to add visual appeal and keep sneaky vermin away.
- Flower boxes. You don’t have to mount flower boxes to the side of your house to increase your curb appeal. Consider, for example, well-placed flower boxes on the edge of your porch. Movable boxes of flowers or seasonal plants (try cut boughs of evergreens in winter) can contribute to the symmetry of your design.
Find the latest trends in yard design at the expo hall wherever the gardening exhibits are located. It’s a good idea to bring along a printout or drawing of your plans to discuss with design experts onsite.
Curb Appeal Is about Cohesion
There are many ways to add curb appeal to your home, but if you’re stumped for ideas and there’s no home and garden show this weekend on your local calendar, you can always walk around the block to check out what your neighbors are up to.
What makes for strong curb appeal varies by region. While this guide points to some opportunities to update your front yard, the style and materials you choose are entirely up to you (and your local climate). While it may be wise to think about a future in which you may want to sell your house, you should ultimately design the home you want to return to every day.