12 ways to create Curb Appeal

12 Ways to Create Curb Appeal

K.E.E.P.Yalecrest was delighted to host Cynthia Bee, the Outreach Coordinator for the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District and the Conservation Park, on March 13, 2018 at the Anderson Foothill Library, as part of our ongoing Education Lecture series. The following is a summary of her enthusiastic, entertaining and knowledgeable lecture that  attended by members and guests.

What is Curb Appeal?

Merriam Webster defines curb appeal as “the visual attractiveness of a house as seen from the street”.  Ms Bee asserts that curb appeal is difficult to define, but “when you see it, you know it!”  Curb appeal draws walkers and visitors to stop, smile and appreciate your home.  Cynthia Bee shared 12 ways to create and/or enhance curb appeal of our homes with many examples from Yalecrest!

12 Ways to Create Curb Appeal

1.  Match don’t mix

Some homes in Yalecrest, have a distinctive architectural style.  Match the landscape design with the architecture of your home-either apply the house style to the landscape or use the landscape to give the house a style.  Avoid mixing styles –   carry materials from the house to the landscaping design.  Use symmetry in the landscape design to provide balance between plant specimens and house. One way landscape can generate a “style” for a house is with a fence or living hedge that creates a ‘barrier

2.  No Bore Front Door

Your front door is the jewelry of your home.  It’s the #1 project with the highest return on your investment and the quickest way to add curb appeal to your home.   Yalecrest is fortunate to have many uniquely designed wood front entry doors, but they require protection from elements (recessed entries).  If your door needs repairs, use BONDO to restore the door.  If the door is severely damaged, find the best quality upgraded door you can afford.  You can also choose to paint the door with a high quality, durable finish.  Choose an interesting color to draw attention to the door.  ‘No fail’ colors that add interest to the front door include 1. Bright colors (mid tones that are vivid or bold), 2. Subtle color (light colors that blend with the house becoming almost neutral), or 3. Classic color (dark crisp colors).   Make sure the sheen of the finish is either matte or semi gloss.  Gloss finishes shows imperfections.

3.  Emphasize the Entry

Draw the eye to the entry with a new covered structure, arbors or other details that direct visitors to the entry and protect them from the elements.  This is particularly important for homes with front doors which do not face the street.  You can also add great plants, an architectural element (arbor, stair railings) around the entry to draw attention to the entry OR add a great gate in the yard leading to the front door.

NOTE: If you opt to change the street facing side of your home, remember to contact Roger Roper at the State Historic Preservation Office (801-245-7251 or  rroper@utah.gov) to find out if those plans will alter your contributory status and affect your future state tax credits.   You can learn more about the State Tax credit program and print/download a read/write application at https://heritage.utah.gov/history/state-tax-credit. 

Also, homeowners in Local Historic Districts are required to obtain a ‘certificate of appropriateness’ for adding any permanent structure(s) to the street facade before obtaining their building permits.  Contact Historic Planners in the City Planning Department (Carl Leith 801-535-7758 or carl.leith@slcgov.com. or Joel Patterson (801.535.6141 or joel.paterson@slcgov.com) to find out how to get a ‘certificate of appropriateness’ for adding any structures to the street facade in a Local Historic District…it could change your house’s contributory status and prevent use of the State Tax credit program.

4.  Contain Yourself

Instead of using many container gardens around the front yard, limit yourself to either a few large containers or 1 grouping near the front door.  If the colors of the containers are different keep pot shape similar.  If the colors are similar, vary the shapes.  Create groupings.  The ‘bigger the container, the better’.  Match the pot architecture to house architecture.  Container considerations:  same type, same shape and varied heights.  Group elements to a limited number of locations (e.g.front and back)

      5.  Define the Lawn

Turf (lawn) becomes an organizing element of the yard.  It should have a defined shape and unobstructed view of the street. Shape your lawn into a single, strong shape.  This conserves water, increases function and simplifies maintenance.  It also serves as the “white space” in the landscape, around which you can organize the rest of the landscape design.  Locate the lawn to where it is MOST useful;  unobstructed for maintenance (no tree islands), fewer edges.  Maintenance is very important- maintain a ‘crisp edging’ of the lawn area.  Lawnless landscapes need great definition to prevent them from appearing as a “mess”. Use low growing blooming plants spaced appropriate for size maturity to minimize extensive pruning.

       6.  Walk this Way

Create a front walkway that is dedicated to pedestrians and separate from the   driveway whenever possible.  Scale the walkway to the lot size.  Use appropriate materials and installation styles similar to the house architecture.  Front walkways should abe hardscaping material that provides a stable walking surface;  use large stones   / pavers and set-in mortar.  Wide, meandering walkways should be soften with low ground covering plants that spill over the hard walkway surface.

7.  Friendly Face

Prairie School, Craftsman and Arts and Crafts architecture designed homes enjoy the curb appeal of a large front porch.  You can create the same effect of a front porch with a front yard seating area.  It not only sends a friendly vibe, like a front yard ‘living room’ and but also removes a section of landscape from continued, active maintenance!  Front yard seating areas are found throughout Yalecrest-a pair of Adirondack chairs in the front lawn to a paver or large stone patio with interesting ground covers and a set of chairs, inviting neighbors and walkers to sit or stop and share some conversation.  Now that’s neighborly!

8.  Seek and Hide

Whenever possible, call attention to positive attributes of your home.  They can be architectural, accent containers or plants.  Examples include walkways, attractive windows, window boxes, arbors, front gate, etc-anything with detailing.  This is especially important on a busy trafficked street.  Downplay garages, storage spaces, waste containers, HVAC units, etc with installation of arbors, screens or plants.  Downplay Garage doors by adding an arbor over the door or upgrade the quality of the garage door.  Regarding fences, choose a fence style that matches the architecture of your home.  Don’t bring the fence in the front yard all the way to the front yard setback of your property.  In addition, soften the front fence structure with plants and in 4 feet on the interior.  Use repeated plants for continuity and impact.

9.  Enthusiasm Your Curb

Call attention to your landscape, improve the sense of separation from the street and conserve/retain water by filling the park strip with low-growing, water-wise plants.   “Flip your strip”.  Keep the plantings low, use dense plantings to reduce weeds such as “steppable’ simple, lush-looking groundcovers (creeping thryme, wooly thyme, soapwort, shrub knockout roses, yellow creeping jenny, stachylantis (lambs ear).  Reduce any turf area less than 8′ x 8′ feet with creative pass-through areas with stepping stones and groundcover or small plants that spread less than 2 feet, etc for easier irrigation and less maintenance.  For creative designs in landscaping your parkstrip, visit http://conservationgardenpark.org/landscaping help, to find 1) ready-made plans and resources, 2) help finding a landscaping pro, 3) videos and an 4) online learning blog with experts to answer questions.  You can also visit Red Butte Botanical Gardens located just minutes from Yalecrest in the University Research Park.  The new 3 acre Water Conservation Garden contains 10 different garden rooms, displaying 27, 000 water-wise, drought tolerant plants representing over 500 species of trees, shrubs, flowers, ground covers.  Take your camera to collect photos and the associated information of the many interesting and lush plants you may wish to include in your landscaping design.

10. Focus on Foliage

Use foliage colors and textures and shape to create definite edges in closely-grouped plantings that remain attractive when not blooming, including shrub roses, elderberry and ninebark (gold and maroon colored varieties) and dense low growing, differently colored sedums.  This allow each plant to feel intentional while packing them close enough to reduce or hide any weeds and eliminate the ‘green jungle’ feel and add interest to your landscaping. 

11.  Bigger is Usually Better

Resist the urge to have a lot of small decorative elements-they look nondistinct or ‘messy’ from afar.  Focus instead of fewer items that are larger in scale, although use of bold colors can make objects seem larger.  The same is true with front yard flowers.  Large flower heads like peonies, hydrangeas and hardy hibiscus are more noticeable from a distance.  An alternative to a single large element is planting multiple (3-5) small flowering or colorful individual plants together to give the impression of a larger plant.  Remember, ‘Beauty is created with contrast’. Using multiple planting of the same water-wise, drought tolerant plant such as delosporum (iceplant), firecracker penstemon, salvia (crystal blue) and various sedums together with lavender or shrub roses in your parkstrip creates a large impact of contrasting color, height and foliage.  All can be sufficiently irrigated with drip emitters.  Don’t forget to add more drip irrigation lines at the dripline of your large parkstrip trees!  They still require more water to maintain their health in summer weather.

12.  Maintenance Matters

There is no substitute for good maintenance.  For the house, make sure water is properly channeled away from the house and stain or paint the house as needed.  Appropriate irrigation of the planting beds vs turf often requires different irrigation schedules.  Contact the ‘slow the flow-H20 program’ program at slowtheflow.org/free-water-check/  then go to slowtheflow.org/are-you-waterwise/ on that page to schedule your free irrigation analysis.  For the landscape, it’s better to have a simple yard you can keep up with than a fancy space in poor condition. Maintain clean edges between the turf vs planting beds and create a defined central turf area with planting beds around it.  Learn more about how to design appropriate Utah Localscapes at https://localscapes.com/designs


More About Cynthia Bee:  Ms Bee has a Bachelor’s degree in Landscape Architecture from Utah State University.  She is an ‘experienced landscape design professional dedicated to teaching everyday homeowners how to create landscapes they’ll love which also fit the climate in which they live’.  She specializes in teaching landscape design, implementation and management to homeowners– rather than gardening to gardeners.

She is a Contributor to the “Spaces” section (home and garden) of the Salt Lake Tribune,  providing relevant local content and expertise in landscape and garden related topics and Outreach Coordinator at the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District (8275 S 1300 W, West Jordan, UT).  She is co-author of the famed ‘Localscapes 101’ design course offered through the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District.

As a professional landscape communicator, she has presented at professional and public events throughout the western United States.  She has an active blogging site () and is the Founder of Utah Home and Garden Club.

This Lecture is a series of free events brought to you by K.E.E.P Yalecrest.   To become a member, donate and be notified of future events, visit http://www.keepyalecrest.org 

-Lynn K Pershing


2 thoughts on “12 ways to create Curb Appeal

  1. Thank you Lynn for coordinating. I know that Cynthia always draws a crowd. Here ideas are so spot on. Can not wait for the next one. These are such a wonderful benefit to being a member of KEEP.

  2. This was a terrific presentation!!! Thank you Keep Yalecrest for efforts on putting on free and convenient events that help us preserve and showcase our homes!

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