7 curb appeal projects for summer

If spring is for cleaning out your home, summer is a great time to take another look at the outside of your home. You don’t have to do anything fancy or spend a lot of money to add curb appeal.

I’m not much of a gardener. I don’t like weeds, I’m afraid of bugs, and plants don’t really like me. Our landscaping is simple and easy to maintain, but we’re working on making it better. And I wanted to share some simple, inexpensive ideas with you.

Consider landscaping with Native Hawaiian plants, many of which are endangered. Native Hawaiian plants have adapted to Hawaii’s climate and are drought-tolerant — they can flourish with less water than imported plants. There are two excellent articles by the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s College of Tropical Agriculture: “Best Native Plants for Landscaping” by Melvin Wong; and “Native Hawaiian Plants for Landscaping, Conservation, and Preservation” by Heidi L. Bornhorst and and Fred D. Rauch, about growing Native Hawaiian groundcovers, shrubs, and trees.

In Honolulu and Waimanalo, Geobunga offers free outdoor design workshops for do-it-yourselfers about orchids, water lilies, water features, bamboo accents, rock gardens, container gardening, and more.

Here are seven easy front-of-the-house upgrades you can do to add curb appeal, from DIY Life’s “Boost Curb Appeal: 8 Great Tricks Under $50” and DIY Network’s “Instant Curb Appeal for Under $100”:

1. Choose new house numbers. It’s amazing what new house numbers can do! Select house numbers that match the style of your house, paying attention to style, size, and finish; or go bold with a custom plaque.

2. Upgrade your mailbox. If you have a mailbox by the side of the road or mounted to your house, you can upgrade your curb appeal with a new, larger mailbox. Make sure that you follow the US Postal Service’s mailbox guidelines.

3. Paint your front door. All it takes to add brightness and revive your house is a gallon or two of exterior paint or stain. You can also refresh the paint on door and window trims, shutters, and planter boxes.

4. Install new door hardware. You can change the whole look of your front door by choosing a new doorknob or handle that matches the style and finish of your house. Changing the lockset is a little more costly and time-consuming, especially if you want to add a deadbolt, but security is important.

5. Clean your windows. Sometimes, just cleaning your windows inside and out can improve your view. Here’s a tip: wash your windows on cloudy, calm days; sunny, breezy days can dry windows too quickly and leave streaks.

6. Replace exterior light fixtures. Think about both the function of the light (how many lights do you need to light up the entryway? do they use the same mounting system as your current lights?) and the style (do they match the look of your house?)

7. Tidy up your front yard. Trim overgrown hedges, edge walkways, pull up weeds, and cut out dead growth. If your landscaping is a little sparse, create interest and dimension in your front yard with low, medium, and tall plants.

Remember: if you’re part of a community association, you may need to get approval before making any changes to the exterior of your house or townhouse.

When you first see a home, what grabs your attention? How does your curb appeal compare to your neighbors’?

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