Around F.C.

How Homeowners Can Improve Their Curb Appeal

As the saying goes, first impressions matter. Curb appeal, a first impression of a property, plays a significant role in increasing the value of a property and attracting potential buyers or tenants. There are many actions one can take to improve curb appeal, and in doing so, make a positive first impression.

Charles Prince, the Falls Church City Arborist, suggested incorporating “native landscapes,” which includes local plants and other species, as a method to improve curb appeal. Allowing for native species can support biodiversity and create a more balanced environment.

“It reflects your personal style and creates a unique and inviting atmosphere,” Prince said.

Sandra Tarpinian is an Extension Master Gardener for Fairfax County and volunteer liaison with the National Wildlife Foundation, as well as a Falls Church resident. Tarpinian recommended five principles – “things you should think about as you’re landscaping,” she said – which can improve a property’s curb appeal.

Tarpinian defined her five principles as flow (“what are you doing that is bringing the eye to the house?”), balance (“when you’re looking at it, there’s a sense of some kind of equilibrium there”), scale (“How big is the tree going to get in front of the house? How big is the shrub going to get?”), perspective (“you can play tricks with the eye by how you plant”) and practicality (“if you put stuff in that you’re not ready to maintain, pretty soon it’s not going to look good”).

Tarpinian suggested she would like to see residents shift their lawns into something that would better support wildlife. She referenced a history of people shifting towards having lawns and away from cultivating farmland, to the detriment of their local ecosystem.

Curb appeal can reflect a homeowner’s personal style and create a unique and inviting atmosphere. (Photo: Sam Mostow)

“We have, since the 1800s, been married to lawn because it meant that we were rich enough that we didn’t have to farm the land,” Tarpinian said.

Prince noted improving curb appeal is an effective way to raise housing value, for both practical and emotional reasons. Practically, trees and other forms of well-placed landscaping provide shade during warmer times of the year, reducing the need for air conditioning and lowering energy costs. Additionally, he elaborated on how good landscaping can make people more emotionally attached to a property.

“A visually appealing exterior with attractive landscaping and well-maintained surroundings can evoke positive emotions in people,” Prince said. “It can create a sense of pride, comfort, and a welcoming environment, making potential buyers more likely to imagine themselves living in the house and calling it their home.”

Tarpinian recognizes that landscaping can be expensive, which is why she recommends people do it in segments. Despite the costs, she believes effective landscaping projects will be beneficial in the long run.

“I don’t think there’s any question that the right landscaping certainly will improve curb appeal,” Tarpinian said.

To Prince, strong curb appeal involves “well-designed landscaping” with many trees, flowers, shrubs and other plants. He said native plants set a property with strong curb appeal apart from a property with weak curb appeal.

“Incorporating native plants into the landscape design not only enhances the visual appeal but also promotes the environment and provides several benefits,” Prince said. “Native plants are adapted to the local climate, requiring less water, fertilizers, and pesticides. They also provide food and habitat for local wildlife, contribute to biodiversity, and help support the overall ecosystem.”

In Falls Church, Tarpinian said she likes how many people are removing lawns away from the curb, which makes the home more visible. To her, taking landscaping actions can complement the property. 

“It changes your whole perspective that it, to me, makes the house more evident,” Tarpinian said. “Because nothing is hiding the house as much, then. The perspective is that this landscaping is closer to your eye and I think it also can make the house look bigger.”