In today's real estate market, some home buyers won't consider looking at homes without curb appeal. Even if you're not planning on selling your home, an attractive front yard welcomes your friends and guests. Boost your home's curb appeal with these inexpensive tips and create a first impression that all visitors will appreciate.

In today's real estate market, some home buyers won't consider looking at homes without curb appeal. Even if you're not planning on selling your home, an attractive front yard welcomes your friends and guests. Boost your home's curb appeal with these inexpensive tips and create a first impression that all visitors will appreciate.

Focus on the front door

"The front door should be the focal point. It's where you greet and bring people into your home," says Tim Malony, Ramsay Real Estate Broker in Jacksonville, "Paint it a color that pops"¦ a nice warm color. The Chinese believe red front doors bring good luck." No matter what color, the door should be pristine.

Remove clutter and clean the foyer and front door area with a broom and hose (or power washer) removing webs, dirt and debris. Create a welcoming front area with a new door mat and clusters of potted plants. Aesthetic features like house numbers, light fixtures, lockset and hardware should be cleaned, polished and in good working order.

Accentuate the positive

When we dress, we minimize our negative and try to accentuate our positive features. That logic holds true to homes as well. John Galbraith, owner of Medford's Galbraith and Associates landscape architecture firm, likes plants to highlight the home, not cover it. "When a home has a brick façade or columns, shrubs should highlight them, not cover them," says Galbraith, "Lower the tops of the shrubs by selectively pruning, not hacking, to expose the features that enhance the home."

In the case of electrical outlets, utility boxes, etc., use the appropriate plants to shield the flaws from the curb.

Inviting greenery

"Start near the sidewalk," says Galbraith, "and remove any barriers that say 'stay away,' like grasses, shrubs, and rocks. Replace them with stepping stones, drought-tolerant ground covers or low-growing shrubs. Large shrubs, Galbraith says, work well on the side of the house.

Symmetry and clean lines appeal to the eye. When accessorizing, adorn both sides of the driveway, garage and front doors simply and evenly. Use potted plants or color spots to lead the eye to the front door. Plant, trim and mow in straight lines, and use a weed eater or line trimmer to edge lawns for a nice, crisp look.

Every house looks better when it's clean. "Prune your stuff, rake your leaves, keep the grass cut, bushes trimmed, and clean the outside of the house, windows, gutters, and roof," says Malony.

Clean up your toys

RV parking, boats, trailers, and storage areas create clutter. "If you keep it outside, keep it out of view," says Malony. This applies to garbage cans, too.

Not sure where to begin? Ask a friend to honestly assess your home's curb appeal and start with their suggestions. For sale or not, your house never gets a second chance to make a first impression. With a little money and a lot of elbow grease, you can brighten, lighten, and heighten your home's charm.