Step Up Your Curb Appeal

By Nancy Moffett

Spring is upon us, even if balmy weather is still weeks away. This is a good time to evaluate and plan for projects that will increase your home’s curb appeal. Every improvement you make will add to the enjoyment of your home and make it more appealing, when and if, the time does come to move on.

Clean Up

Are there still downed branches from 2011’s Halloween snowstorm or leftover autumn leaves in your yard? Now’s the time for a thorough clean-up. If you don’t want to tackle this yourself, Chris Yanders, owner of Scenic Walkways, recommends calling in professionals. A yard crew will blow out the beds, prune shrubs and small ornamental trees and add a fresh topping of mulch. “I also recommend having the beds edged,” he says, not only to define them but to also keep the new mulch in place. He’s been lining beds for his clients with pavers laid flat, making them easier to trim with a weed whacker while giving them a finished look.

Regarding mulch, Scott Rothenberger, owner of PLACE, recommends using only “natural” mulch. “Dyed mulches are not only potentially harmful to the environment, but they are also too taste-specific, which may turn away future buyers,” he says.

Yanders also advises power-washing concrete walkways and decks and accumulations of mold or mildew on house siding and the driveway.

Spruce Up

If you have brick or paver sidewalks that have lost sand, now’s the time to have them re-done with polymeric sand. It’s a great choice because it hardens to prevent wash-out. It also helps lock pavers in place and inhibits weed growth. “This is semi-permanent and will make the walkway or patio look like new,” Yanders says.

If your concrete walkways are in good shape, but are cracked and tired-looking, there is an alternative to replacing them says Jim Scheetz, owner of Endless Concrete Design: resurfacing. This process can turn concrete into a “work of art” in the style of marble, quartz or granite. Patterns can be random to disguise cracks in the slabs and colored to coordinate with the house. One popular design looks like Pennsylvania bluestone in a subtle bluish-gray says Scheetz, a look that works with any style home. Bruce Fritzinger, partner and manager of landscape architecture at Plantique®, also suggests outlining concrete walkways with brick to liven them up.

Fritzinger says a good way to evaluate your landscape is to have an on-site consultation with a professional landscaper. They can tell you what needs to be trimmed, replaced or transplanted. This can be done at a cost of about $200 or less and will include a drawing and notes you can use to guide the work, whether you do it yourself or hire someone to do it for you.

He also suggests planting bulbs for spring in the fall for that first burst of springtime color. “Or, you can plant forced bulbs in April that will instantly add color,” he says. He further recommends large containers filled with annuals to add instant appeal. If you don’t want to deal with heavy ceramic pots, ones made of poly material breathe and age without the weight. They can be used through fall and winter by adding cold-weather plants such as pansies, ornamental cabbage or greens.

He points out that newer species of perennials—such as knock-out and drift roses—will bloom from April to late fall. And, some old-fashioned shrubs now come in dwarf varieties, making them easier to care for—lilac, forsythia, boxwood and holly are just a few that can make your landscape more colorful and lush.


If your walkway is in bad shape, now’s the time to invest in a new one. Rothenberger recommends walkways be at least four feet wide with an enlarged landing space near the front door for a bench and planters, suggesting an outdoor foyer. Yanders says man-made concrete pavers come in an infinite number of colors and designs and can be coordinated with the color and texture of the house. “These are longer-lasting than bricks or natural materials,” he says. However, Fritzinger feels they are being overused today and will fade in the future in favor of more traditional brick and stone.

Rothenberger recommends highlighting the main entry with color. “Use a dramatic color on the door—deep red, hunter green, Wedgwood blue or even mustard yellow. Then carry it out with clusters of planters in the same color theme at the entry or along the front walk,” he explains.

He also notes that a great mailbox that matches the home’s architecture, along with  appropriate style house numbers and exterior lighting, go a long way in adding appeal. “A planting scheme that matches the architecture is also important,” he notes. “Is it a formal, somewhat traditional space with boxwood hedges and evergreen ground covers, or is it ‘new American’ with swaths of colorful perennials, ornamental grasses and native shrubs?”

These contractors all offer at-home consultations (cost varies). PLACE offers a “Curb Appeal Analysis” that includes creation of a list of ideas to make your property stand out. Whether you do it yourself or need professional advice, upping your home’s curb appeal is a great spring project that can make your home a cut above the rest of the block.

Endless Concrete Design
3672 Dillingersville Road
Zionsville, PA 18092

Plantique, Inc.
6344 Schantz Road
Allentown, PA 18104

Scenic Walkways
Bethlehem, PA

Scott Rothenberger’s PLACE
86 Laura Drive
Barto, PA 19504

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