Kerb appeal vital to home sales

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If you’re thinking of selling your home and want to make a good first impression, or you just want to improve its ‘kerb appeal’, giving the front a makeover is a must.

Improving its appearance will not only make your home more sellable and attractive, it could also add value.

The basics are pretty obvious - 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. If they’re past help and you can afford it, you may want to replace the windows and door.

The other area you need to focus on is the front garden because it can make a big difference to the appearance and appeal of your home - and it shouldn’t be difficult to transform.

This time of year is ideal for brightening up your front garden, thanks to window boxes, hanging baskets, troughs and tubs planted with colourful summer bedding plants such as pansies, geraniums and petunias.

To define the entrance, especially if you have two doors and so visitors and potential buyers might be confused about which to use, strategically placed topiary bushes or tall shrubs in nice pots work well.

Hedges provide privacy if your home’s close to the pavement, but can make the front room dark, so be careful to strike the right balance - it may be time to mean business with your hedge trimmers but be aware of nesting birds.

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 such as gravel, pebbles or slate chips, all of which can be used to quickly cover eyesores such as concrete and crazy paving.

A more expensive, but elegant, option is block paving, paving slabs, or slate or 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.

Low-maintenance feature-foliage plants like ornamental grasses and slow-growing shrubs to break up paving and add interest can be a good idea.

It’s a good idea to choose plants that flower at different times so you have colour throughout the year.

Lavender bushes are great for lining the path to your front door - they’re in flower now and smell wonderful, drawing visitors in.

In some locations, especially expensive urban ones where parking is at a premium, paving over your front garden and lowering the kerb to create off-street parking can be a valuable addition to your home.

It will probably cost you thousands of pounds and you may need planning permission (some councils are clamping down on off-street parking applications), but it’s an option worth exploring in the right area - ask local estate agents if in doubt about yours.

However, it isn’t very environmentally friendly. Plants have lots of plus points, including encouraging wildlife, and permeable surfaces such as grass and soil allow water to drain way, helping to prevent flooding, so try to keep some greenery if you can.

Gravel, pebbles and slate chips are a better option than concrete, paving and tarmac because they allow water to drain through.

Whatever you go for, your front garden should be in keeping with your home’s exterior - an ultramodern design probably won’t suit a country cottage, for example.

It should also suit your lifestyle, as you don’t want a garden that requires more time and energy than you can devote to it, however good it looks.