An overgrown lawn is the equivalent of a bad haircut. One of the cheapest but most critical home improvement fixes involves cleaning up the lawn. Cut the grass, clean paths and walkways, clear away the clutter, and trim the bushes. The sweet summer scent of freshly cut grass is a bonus, especially if you're trying to sell the house. For many buyers, it's a sign that your house is well cared for.
Cleaning the outside of your house is both cheap and surprisingly effective. Scrubbing the exterior can brighten he colors and might even eliminate the need for a fresh coat of paint. To stretch the existing paint job, use a hose with a spray nozzle to rinse off the dust and dirt that dulls the color and finish. For heavy-duty exterior cleaning, rent a pressure washer and blast away stains.
Wipe off visible dirt and grime, especially near the entryway where people get up close and personal with the house. Sweep the main walk and steps up to the entrance and wipe down the door (and window, if applicable). Remember to power wash or machine-wash the welcome mat.
The front door is both barrier and passageway, so make it a focus of your home improvement efforts. If cleaning reveals cracks or peeling paint, give it a fresh coat and consider a new, bold color that will liven up the overall appearance of the house. Old or tarnished doorknobs should be replaced with newer hardware that feels sturdy in the hand. Then again, it may be worth replacing the door entirely. Home improvement stores like Lowe's or Home Depot stock new doors at a variety of price points. Consider design elements like windowed insets.
Once the door is in tip-top shape, add character to the entryway. A bright and seasonal wreath or potted plants are cheap and easy accents. A selection of blooms on the porch or hanging from windowsills will brighten anyone's impression of your home before they even walk through the door.
Clean windows do so much for the appeal of a home. Wash the windows to let more sunlight inside while presenting that new-house look on the outside. This means keeping the windowsills and shutters clean, as well. If your shutters look worn after a good wash, a fresh coat of paint is an easy way to instantly lift the outer face of the house.
Make sure that water flows away from the house, rather than seeping into the foundation or pooling around the base or walkways. Likewise, keep the gutters clear so that water flows down the spouts rather than dripping over backed-up canals. These little fixes help preserve your home's infrastructure and signal that it's properly maintained. Moreover, who wants to step over puddles or dodge water dripping from overhead?
Bring all-season cheer to the front lawn with flowers, plants, and bushes. Flowers provide pops of color that can make the yard seem more lush and luxurious and attract colorful birds and butterflies. Shrubs and other plantings serve as natural fences and create more privacy while giving your home that well-loved look. Plant flowers along the walkways or cluster them as a mini-garden in an obvious spot. Buy seeds from home improvement stores or transplant potted flowers from a local nursery. For a colorful garden display all spring and summer, plant different flowers that bloom at staggered intervals.
Laying down fresh soil will keep your flowerbeds in good health, while fresh mulch gives your landscape a uniform and fresh look. There's an upfront cost to mulch, but it keeps going for a couple of years. Lay it down this spring and next year all you have to do is turn and plump it to achieve the same results.
Craft a personality for your home with small and inexpensive upgrades. Think like an interior designer. Replace old or peeling address numbers with decorative new ones. Look for antique lights or torches for the entryway at flea markets and garage sales. Replace or repaint the mailbox, and add ornamental touches to flowerbeds with small figurines or fencing.