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Wow the neighborhood with a spectacular front entrance

Imagine your house being the one that neighbors ooh and ahh over when walking the neighborhood. The colors are pleasing and cohesive and the plants, fixtures, and decorations all work together to create a look that says the owners care and they know what they’re doing. Now imagine enhancing the curb appeal of your dwelling, doing it yourself, and saving some serious cash at the same time. First impressions are made in an instant, so this is your chance, to impress, invite, and inspire.

Use the architecture of your home to dictate the theme or style you’ll follow. Does it warrant a formal look, traditional and manicured with windows and plants in a symmetrical formation? Is it more cottage-style with a relaxed appearance complete with rustic features and random plantings? Or is it artistic and quirky with bolder colors and abstract lines? Modern and linear with spare adornments? Even the walkway says something about the style, with curved tending toward a casual look, perhaps made up of rough flagstone, bricks, or pavers with beveled or tumbled edges. A winding path encourages a slower walk, giving ample time to enjoy gardens, terraces, secret seating areas, or other surprises along the way. A straight path of bluestone, patterned brick, or colored pavers lends itself to more of a traditional look and can be impressive leading up to the front door, left clean. But you can also soften a stark walk with low-growing, well-behaved “puffy” plants such as dianthus, liriope, lady’s mantle, sedge, iberis (candytuft), armeria (thrift), and the like.

Are you patriotic? Do you love travel, nature, or gardening? Use items that inspire you and remind you of someone or somewhere special that says something about your personality. A picket fence section with an antique spade says “a gardener lives here.” Mismatched items like cement hands, a macramé hanging, a kilim pillow, and metal sphere suggest a traveler or art collector lives there. A tasteful wreath made of crayons, macaroni, and ribbons might reflect that grandchildren are a huge part of your life. A gilded empty picture frame with a painted monogram letter would fit nicely with a traditional house, giving it a personal touch. Achieve a nautical look with an inexpensive beach bag, fishnet, shells, tin lanterns, driftwood, oars—you name it. Collect sticks to embellish a pot or wreath at the right price…free!

In the front landscapa, a good rule of thumb uses about fifty percent evergreen plants—that might include pines, azaleas and rhododendrons, or boxwood. Twenty-five percent of the plant material can be deciduous trees and shrubs that will lose their leaves but retain beautiful structure, like red twig dogwood or heritage birch, which are more visible in the winter. The remainder of plants can be made up of perennials that return every year or annuals that provide a quick burst of color. Boulders and gravel could suggest a dry creek bed, enhance a modern front, or provide a background for desert-like plantings. Artwork appropriate to the design of the house can only add to its appeal. Just make sure it’s cohesive with the theme of the property.

Rustic planters include macrame or cloth (burlap), concrete, and terra cotta, and often offer softer color choices. Pots can be etched or covered in rope or wicker.

Glazed containers in bold colors might mimic another feature of the house, be it shutters or cushions on a bench. You can even use colored tape to customize an inexpensive pot in a chevron pattern or stripes, and find containers in unlikely places like office supply stores and linen or bath shops. Contrast everything so that it is visible from the road. Use different heights so the eye travels smoothly over the property. If something juts out too abruptly, minimize it with stick-on numbers, plants that drape over it or curtains or blinds to block a view and provide privacy. Hide a cable box with grasses, rocks, or shrubs. Screen a noisy street with trees or shrubs. Draw attention to a feature using a similar shape or color. For example, a unique round window might have round shrubs nearby to enhance that particular part of the house.

Brightness and tone of the colors used should be in harmony with the house. Do you want bold or subdued colors? Check your closet and what you’re wearing now for answers. A tudor style house begs for muted colors, while a beach house can get away with sherbet shades. Balance the intensity by repeating and limiting the colors to three basics. Keep in mind that pastels recede and appear further away while hotter colors like reds, yellows, and oranges jump closer. Using the color wheel shows opposites like red, blue, and yellow play well together. So can secondary colors like purple, green, and orange. Maybe purple and white in various shades (and a purple door) are all you need to show the world your status.

Capitalize on seasonal changes to build on a color concept—that maple you find in the nursery with yellow fall leaves might complement a yellow door brilliantly (or paint the door to match!). Blue flowers in summer amplify the blue in a bluestone walkway or patio umbrella.

Look for inspiration in your daily life and think about impactful, inexpensive ways to decorate. Buy paint samples and experiment with colors that appeal to you. Repurpose buckets, watering cans, or even shoes if it expresses who you are. Your home will look great, and you can feel good that you did it yourself.


Jeanine “J” Fyfe has been in lawn and garden retail for almost twenty years and currently works at Broccolo Garden Center.

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