house with front yard curb appeal

Let the colors of fall complement your home's trim, front door, and shutter colors.


There are plenty of budget-friendly ways to improve the look of your home.

When selling a home, one cannot underestimate the power of curb appeal. However, the exterior of the home is quite often the last item tackled before listing a home for sale.

As cool weather approaches, great front yard curb appeal becomes mission critical and can mean the difference between selling your home before the holidays (and decorating a new one) and once again dragging out the holiday decorations.

Here are a variety of budget-friendly ways to improve your home’s curb appeal this fall.

1. Mulch heavily

As we head into the cooler weather, flowers begin to die and your beds can become a bit of an eyesore. One way to amplify aesthetics is to lay down a new layer of mulch. Besides adding eye candy, laying down a heavy layer of mulch protects your flowers and beds from harsher weather that’s on the way.

Organic mulches such as red cedar bark are becoming more popular. Colored with vegetable dyes, they deliver a punch of color. However, they also can fade quickly, especially if you live in an area with lots of rain.

Depending on your budget, you can remulch twice per year. If you’re short on cash, opt for a more durable material, such as pine straw, wood chips, or even pea gravel.

2. Create a rock garden

Contained rock gardens have become trendy in today’s housing market for their low maintenance and drought-friendly qualities. But rock gardens also add instant curb appeal; there’s no need to wait for trees to grow or flowers to bloom. They can be beautifully simple or elaborately intricate and will steal the show at your open house this weekend.

Here are some tips to get you started building one:

  • Set a border that visually defines an area of your front yard.
  • Clear the space of all weeds, leaves, and plantings.
  • Lay down landscape fabric and secure it in place with pegs.
  • Cover the area with appealing gravel, such as decomposed granite or Russian River cobbles.
  • Place an odd number of vertical, eye-catching decorations in the center, such as a planter with blooming annuals.

Pro tip: Be sure to keep your rock garden away from deciduous trees. When trees shed their leaves in the fall, they get stuck in the gravel and are nearly impossible to remove. Eventually, these leaves decompose into soil, which then creates a weed problem within your rock garden.

3. Add trim

Beyond landscaping, you can also boost curb appeal by adding an extra layer of trim and molding to the windows and doors. Trim is like adding accessories to an outfit — it can elevate a basic house into something extraordinary.

Rather than removing your existing molding, simply add a layer of crown molding to the top of your current trim. There are hundreds of designs, ranging from simple craftsman styles to more ornate Victorian and Queen Anne motifs.

If you’re willing to remove your existing trim, the options are endless. For an elaborate look, consider adding fluted trim and rosettes, and position these between heavy layers of both crown and base molding.

4. Add shutters

Depending on the architectural style of your home, shutters might be precisely the missing component to punch up your curb appeal. Historically, shutters were used to protect dwellings from storms but are now used as decorative elements, adding texture and dimension to a home’s facade.

You can choose from a variety of styles, ranging from more traditional louvered rectangular shutters to the far more decorative arch-top board-and-batten style. And shutters can still serve an important function. As we head into fall, if you add shutters that are functional as well as decorative, they could come in handy for extra protection from high winds and storms.

5. Paint your brick

Some homeowners have the good fortune of owning houses that are built from gorgeous bricks, such as old clay-fired red brick from the early 1900s. However, if your house is constructed from an unremarkable brick style, try spraying on a layer of paint. Just make sure to give yourself plenty of time for prep work. Pressure washing, repairing cracks, and priming the brick are essential to a great paint job.

The cooler temperatures and lower humidity make early fall a perfect time for the prep work required to paint the exterior of your home. If DIY isn’t for you, professional painters’ schedules will also loosen up as the cooler temperatures set in — either way, it’s a win.

6. Update your front door

Painting your front door is an inexpensive but impactful way to enhance your curb appeal. If your door is a neutral hue, such as beige or brown, painting it a bright color such as lipstick red can add some much-needed contrast, really making the entrance pop. If that’s not your style, try a more muted shade such as sea blue, sage green, or even black.

Pro tip: Take advantage of fall colors and create a seasonal display on your front porch. Buyers will appreciate the touch and be more likely to remember your home out of all the homes they have seen.

7. Replace your house number

A quick and impactful way to modernize the feel of your home’s exterior for $50 or less: Replace your house numbers with something more stylish. Decorative and updated fonts can replace the humdrum typeface that’s been up since the 1970s.

You could also try an art deco, cursive, or modern sans-serif typeface. And consider changing up the material — metal and raw wood both look great and will hold up over time.

It doesn’t take a large amount of money to update a home’s curb appeal. With a little ingenuity and manual labor, you can elevate your curb appeal just in time to sell your home before the holidays arrive.