House and Home

Improving your garden can make your  home look attractive to a seller
Improving your garden can make your home look attractive to a seller

If you are thinking of selling and want to make a good first impression, or you simply want to improve ‘kerb appeal’ for your own pride, making the front of your house more attractive is an obvious step to take.

The basics are pretty self-explanatory – have a good tidy-up, give tired woodwork a lick of paint and do any necessary repairs, especially to the walls, roof, windows and front door.

The other area to focus on is the front garden, which can make an enormous difference to the overall appearance and appeal of your home.

This time of year is ideal for brightening up the garden, using window boxes, hanging baskets, troughs and tubs planted with colourful bedding plants. To define the entrance, especially if there could be confusion about which door is the front door, place topiary bushes or tall shrubs in nice pots to guide people to the right door. Hedges provide privacy if your home is close to the pavement, but can make the front room dark, so be careful to strike the right balance.

If you don’t want the hassle of maintaining a front lawn, or you don’t have room for one, stick to low-maintenance options like gravel, pebbles or slate chips. A more expensive, but elegant, option is block paving, paving slabs, or slate or (frost-resistant) ceramic tiles, which are easy to maintain because they can be hosed down.

Mix in some flowerbeds and you should have a smart, easy-to-maintain front garden that’s the best of both worlds.

In some locations off-street parking in your front garden can be a valuable addition to your home. That said, creating off-street parking won’t necessarily be cheap, and you may need planning permission.

In some cases, you’ll need planning for both the parking and a dropped kerb (if you don’t already have one), which are separate applications and usually dealt with by different council departments. Often, the council will only tell you how much it will charge to drop the kerb once the planning for the off-street parking has been approved so, as you can imagine, it can be quite a lengthy process.

Also, while off-street parking often adds value, it isn’t very environmentally friendly. Plants have lots of benefits, including encouraging wildlife, and natural surfaces like grass and soil allow water to drain away quickly, helping to prevent flooding. At the very least, choose a permeable hard surface for your front garden. Using a permeable surface may, in any case, exempt you from having to apply for planning for off-street parking.

Whatever you go for, your front garden should be in keeping with your home’s exterior. It should also suit your lifestyle, as you don’t want a garden that requires more time than you can devote to it.