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Curb appeal tips to recover from winter's fury

Shannon Lee | Improvement Center Columnist | March 9, 2015

Winter is finally showing signs of giving up, but it left your front yard looking terrible. That's really bad news for homeowners who have their home on the market. Will potential buyers be turned off by the lack of curb appeal? Now is the time to make sure that doesn't happen by ramping up the look of your lawn and home, making the most of that first impression -- no matter how ornery Old Man Winter might have been.

Make the front door pop

Even before the snow is gone, making your front door and entryway a lovely, inviting place is easy to do. Start with a serious pop of color at the front of your home, one that draws the eye away from anything else in the area. You can do that with a new steel entry door, one that is painted in a vivid color. Look at red, green, or even purple -- just make sure the color complements the siding and other elements of the home.

Then turn your attention to the area around the door. Potted evergreen trees can pep up the look, and so can potted plants that bloom with vivid colors, even in the early spring cold. You can also opt for high-quality artificial flowers if the wait for spring blooms proves to be a bit too long. Choose accents such as tiny twinkling lights on the evergreens or colorful signs heralding spring that will make the front porch even more attractive.

Opt for a seasonal cleanup

As soon as the snow melts and the thaw begins, hire a professional lawn service to deal with the nightmare left behind by a harsh winter. Tree branches have fallen, leaves have piled up, and melted snow might have even made tiny rivers in your front yard. A good lawn service can help eliminate those eyesores in a few good hours of work.

While you're at it, give the house a good cleanup, too. Wash away any grime from salt, snow and ice that might have accumulated on the siding. Power-wash the deck and porch, as well as the walkways, to rid them of any lingering debris. Put away the snow shovels and salt, and start preparing the porch for spring.

Bring new life to the lawn

Your front yard is one of the first things a potential buyer will notice, so it pays to make it as attractive as possible. But how can you do that when so much of it is brown and yellow? There might even be bare patches where the winter took a heavy toll.

Fortunately, there are many ways to spruce up the lawn in those long weeks between winter and spring. Start by raking up all the dead grass and debris on your lawn. After a really bad winter, don't be surprised if even the green grass comes up under the rake -- it has likely been saturated by snow for so long that the roots are dead. Then sew a high-quality, fast-growing grass seed on the entire lawn, paying close attention to the bare patches.

If the grass seed doesn't take root quickly, you might need to go to more extensive measures. Replacing the sod can give you a stunning lawn very early in the spring, but it certainly isn't cheap. Weigh the selling price of your home with the cost of this pricey improvement before you take the plunge.

Work fast to repair any damage

Winter can truly wreck havoc on your property. All that ice and snow could have damaged the landscaping, perhaps leaving unsightly humps in the walkway or evergreen trees that suddenly have brown and yellow patches. You might even have some damage from ice storms, frozen irrigation pipes, or snow plowing of the driveway. Start right now to fix all these problems, and work fast -- you want to get the contractors out there as soon as it is warm enough to work.

In the meantime, do what you can to repair damage on your own. Scrub away the salt residue that might be coating your porch steps or walkway. Inspect the roof to make sure no damage was done during the long winter. Reassess the gutters, make sure all the outdoor pipes are running cleanly, and trim away the "winter burned" areas of trees.

Start with your curb appeal plan before the snow starts to melt, and then jump into making the house look gorgeous just in time for those handsome spring flowers to peek out of the ground. By moving quickly, you can keep Old Man Winter from ruining your potential sale!

About the Author

Shannon Lee is a journalist and occasional novelist with a serious weakness for real estate. When she's not writing, she and her husband are taking road trips to explore covered bridges, little wineries and quaint bed-and-breakfast inns in their beloved Pennsylvania.