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Front and backyard landscaping ideas

Keep your lawn low-maintenance, increase your home’s curb appeal and improve your backyard entertainment with these landscaping upgrades

by David Chandler, Ph.D. ConsumerAffairs Research Team
Garden with colorful flowers

Introduction

When you think about landscaping, your first thought probably goes straight to maintenance. And you aren’t alone. According to the most recent landscaping trends report from Houzz, more and more homeowners prefer low-maintenance lawns.

Low-maintenance lawns, however, aren’t the only priority for most homeowners. It turns out that people want to increase their home’s curb appeal by setting their houses apart from their neighbors’. The report also shows that most people start landscaping projects to make their yards more livable, prioritizing outdoor cooking and entertaining areas.

If you want to upgrade your landscaping, start by considering low-maintenance lawns, unique curb appeal and outdoor living spaces. Following these trends can add lasting value to your home whether you plan to sell or you just want to improve your living space.

Garden with rock path and flowers

Keep maintenance to a minimum

The main takeaway from Houzz’s report is that people want lawns they don’t have to constantly maintain. Here are some solutions to keep your maintenance costs and efforts low:

  • Reduce the size of your lawn: To keep maintenance low, 28 percent of homeowners surveyed decided to reduce the size of their lawns. Of those surveyed, 14 percent of homeowners removed their front yards completely. Adding flower beds or extending driveways are a couple of ways to reduce the size of your lawn.

  • Hardscaping: Synthetic yards haven fallen out of favor among homeowners. Adding hardscape like stones and pavement has become a popular way to shrink the size of your yard.

  • Low-maintenance plants: When it comes to plants for your lawn, low-maintenance beats visually striking every time. According to Houzz’s survey, people want plants that don’t require a lot of upkeep more than they want unique flowers or trees. If you’re updating your lawn, consider getting low-maintenance shrubs that look good with minimal effort. Wooly thyme, blue spruce shrubs, dogwood and verbena are some plants that don’t require much effort to maintain.

  • Grass options: If you want a low-maintenance yard, you might need to replace your current grass. Ornamental grasses like sedge can survive with relatively little water and don’t require constant mowing. Some people also plant groundcover plants like moss and clover for easy upkeep.

Blue house with red door and trees in yard

Find your own style to boost curb appeal

Many homeowners decide to update their lawn and garden to boost curb appeal, and an important trend driving curb appeal is uniqueness. Houzz’s survey found that people who redesign the front of their homes do so to set their homes apart. A few touch-ups can make your house stand out on your block.

  • Paint your front door: One of the simplest ways to boost curb appeal is to paint your front door. Look at the other front doors on your block and choose a color that is different from the rest. Red, black, blue and yellow doors can give your house a splash of color and boost curb appeal.

  • Update your mailbox: Whether it’s a fresh coat of glossy paint or buying a new one entirely, updating your mailbox is a quick fix to improve curb appeal. As an added bonus, it’s usually inexpensive. Consider putting your mailbox on a painted post in your yard or building it into a stone or concrete column.

  • Update outdoor lighting: Updating fixtures is a relatively cheap way to make your exterior look nicer. Many homeowners update or replace their porch lighting to increase curb appeal. If your existing fixtures are still functional, give them a good scrub to keep them looking nice. You can also add new lighting, especially small solar lights to highlight flower beds and walkways. Lining a walkway with some solar stake lights is an easy, cheap and quick way to brighten your yard without adding intrusive spotlights.

  • Add shutters and outdoor trim: Adding shutters and trim to your exterior doors and windows can give you more opportunities to play with unique colors. Trim and shutters look especially sharp when their colors match your front door. If you already have shutters and trim, give them a fresh coat of glossy paint to make your front yard pop.

  • Plant small gardens: A small flower bed, a tree, shrubs and flower boxes hung from windows are all easy ways to boost curb appeal. Keeping perennials in flower boxes lets you update flowers with relative ease, and adding beds and shrubs makes your lawn smaller while adding some unique touches to your yard.

Outdoor wicker furniture

Build for livability

While the front yard is a space for curb appeal, the backyard is a place for entertaining and living spaces. Current trends show that more people are making their backyards livable by adding lighting systems, outdoor kitchens and more. Here are few popular trends: 

  • Lighting: When you’re lighting a space for backyard entertainment, make sure your lights are more than just decorations. Many homeowners have installed smart lighting systems they control from mobile devices. Others have invested in solar lights or use strings of bulbs to create a sort of light canopy.

  • Outdoor kitchens: These days, a grill is just the start of an outdoor living space. While built-in and deluxe barbecue grills will always be important outdoor cookers, homeowners are adding refrigerators and brick ovens to their backyard patios. Complete outdoor kitchens are expensive updates, but they can add a touch of luxury to your backyard. So, if you’re thinking of adding on to a backyard cooking space, think beyond the grill.

  • Comfortable furniture: Homeowners are moving past lawn chairs by adding couches and cushioned lounge chairs to enjoy spaces beneath shades, shutters and canopies. If you’re improving your backyard, consider allowing enough space to fit a couch, cushioned swings or lounge chairs.

  • Add a fire pit: Houzz’s survey shows that 32 percent of homeowners added fire pits to their home. You can find fire pits for sale at most lawn and garden stores for around $100. If you want a more personalized style, be prepared to spend up to $500 to install a personalized fire pit that meets your specifications.

Pink flowers in front of house

Conclusion

If you’re planning a landscaping project that involves more than a few touch-ups, you should be prepared to spend some money. Most individual projects, 76 percent, were minor and cost less $5,000. However, 55 percent of homeowners worked on more than one project at a time, shelling out upwards of $15,000 to complete all of their decorating and landscaping tasks. If you don’t want to spend that much money but still want to spruce up your yard, consider smaller projects to boost your house’s curb appeal. Whatever the scope of your landscaping plan, these trends should give you ideas to update your yard.

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by David Chandler, Ph.D. ConsumerAffairs Research Team

David Chandler, Ph.D., writes for the ConsumerAffairs Research team to help consumers make smart purchasing decisions. David is passionate about creating content that is useful and informative, and he devotes several hours to researching companies, industries and articles for each piece of content he writes to help consumers find what they need.