If you’re planning to sell a home, prepare now for the crucial task of attracting home buyers. Homes that look loved and well-maintained get more attention — and first impressions matter. A potential buyer starts making their buying decision as they stop at a home and pull into the driveway. In fact, having an attractive yard and home at street level is key to having a potential buyer even stop to look at your home.

SIMPLE EXTERIOR CHANGES
These six, quick, budget-minded projects help boost your home’s curb appeal. Each takes a weekend at most, and starting early gives you time to prepare for your sale.

Pressure-wash the siding
A home and its porch, decks, steps and walks shine after you’ve removed winter grit, wasp nests, dead bugs and cobwebs. Choose a washer setting powerful enough to blast debris but not so strong it lifts paint or splinters wood.
Cost: Renting a pressure washer, about $75 a day

Primp the porch
Did you realize that your home’s entry is a test? Buyers think, “If they can’t keep up the outside of the house, why should I even bother looking at the inside?” Potential buyers are turned off by neglected or messy home entries. Clean up your porch or walkway by neatly trimming existing hedges, removing household clutter and adding a pot of colorful flowers or inviting greenery.
Cost: Large planter, $12; plants and potting soil, $45

Clean exterior windows
This job is easier than you’d think. Use an exterior window cleaning solution that attaches to a hose. Spray the cleaner on exterior glass, followed by a spray of clean water. Let the glass dry or squeegee it.
Cost: Cleaner, $10; squeegee, $7

Repaint the front door
Your home’s focal point is the front door. Repainting instantly freshens the appearance and adds impact. A premium, one-coat, exterior house paint pays off in time and effort saved because it needs no priming. A semi-gloss finish lets you wipe off smudges and dirt. Avoid high-gloss paint, which reveals imperfections. Consult a paint store or local home improvement store for color advice and samples.
Cost: Gallon of paint, about $35

Update house numbers
New numbers are eye-catching. Go big and bold, at least 5 inches tall. Decide where to place them by standing at the street and imagining you are searching for your house.
Cost: Four numbers, $30

Clean or replace porch lights
New porch lights run as little as $30 each. Consider a contemporary, darker color, such as brown or black. On a strict budget? Use restoring wipes like those made by Rust-Oleum or Rejuvenate to renew oxidized, faded or dirty metal.
Cost: New fixtures start at around $30, wipes $20

LANDSCAPING INVESTMENT
According to home experts, the value added by a landscape upgrade increases a home value by 10 to 12 percent. If you’re considering upgrading your yard but aren’t sure where to begin, check out some of the most common yard issues seen by Nicole Butler Hutchins, Landscaping Specialist at Green Oak Nursery in Jackson, MS.

COMMON PROBLEMS
The plants are old and overgrown
It can be fun to hand prune plants and see them rejuvenate. For instance, when azaleas are pruned after they bloom, they respond well. It usually takes one growing season for them to look like new again.

The plants are planted too close together
Remove some plants to reduce crowding. Crowding restricts airf low, which increases insect and disease habitats. Crowding make plants compete for water, nutrients, and space to grow.

The plants are too close to the house
Do not be afraid of pruning things back or removing plants. If you want to replace the plant with another, check the growth patterns of the new plant and use a measuring tape to ensure your new addition will not cause the same problem.

Poor plant choice for the area or environment.
“We see plants meant for sun in shade and vice versa,” Nicole says. “Additionally, many plants are planted in areas too small. Occasionally, plants are planted too far apart, leaving a landscape looking bare.” Over time, trees can change growing conditions and plants or lawns that once flourished may struggle to survive. Areas that were once full sun may be shaded because of canopy growth. Nicole’s tip: go outside during different times of the day to see which areas previously sunny are now shaded. Try replacing the old plants with shade tolerant plants or ground-covers.

Areas that were once shaded are now full sun.
This can happen when a landscape experiences a tree loss. During winter months, plants may not show adverse effects until summer. The extra sun will cause plants to sunburn and weaken.

Making the wrong plant choice can cause future landscaping problems and headaches. Doing a little research before you plant goes a long way for your landscape and your wallet. Luckily, Nicole’s made your work easy with the following lists for her all-time favorite plants:

NICOLE’S SHADE PICKS
 Old Gold Carex Grass
 Giant Ligularia
 Dwarf Mondo Grass

These are fun to mix with old shade favorites such as:
 Azaleas
 Gardenias
 Pittosporum

Shade loving turf
 St. Augustine Sod – Tip: Keep pine straw and leaves removed and provide water during dry spells.
 Apply appropriate fertilizer as the label recommends.

Unlike big box stores, local garden centers like Green Oak Nursery carry special varieties of plants, they can place special orders for customers, and also have knowledgeable staff to help pick appropriate plant materials and troubleshoot unique garden and landscaping problems.

NICOLE’S FAVORITE SUN PICKS
 Twist of Lime Abelia – an evergreen that provides year-round color because of their variegated foliage.
 Drift Roses – these come in many colors and their bloom cycle is every 5-8 weeks during warm months.
 Loropetalum – also called Chinese fringe bush, this evergreen shrub has small, burgundy or bronze leaves and small pink or white flowers. Be mindful of the variety you select because some can get BIG!
 Sweet Olive – this large shrub is a must-have for those that enjoy a fragrance in the garden.

Sun Favorites Annuals
 Diamond Frost Euphorbia
 Sun Coleus
 Magellan Zinnia – butterflies love these.
 Yellow Joseph’s Coat

Sun Perennial Favorites
 Black-eyed Susans – a type of Rudbeckia that grows daisy-like flowers.
 Gaura – this plant is easy to grow, drought tolerant and attracts butterflies and hummingbirds
 Cone Flower – the purple coneflower is native to the eastern U.S. and attracts pollinators like bees and butterflies.
 Lantana – a colorful addition to any garden, this plant is known for its gorgeous, tiny clusters of flowers. One popular southern variety is named “Ham and Eggs.”

Sun Loving Turf Grass Favorites
 Zoysia
 Bermuda

DRAINAGE ISSUES
 Regrade slopes or low spots.
 Add a French drain.
 Add an attractive dry creek bed.

ENHANCEMENTS TO ADD VALUE
 Add a border to existing beds.
 Adding borders to beds help define permanent bed areas and make maintenance less stressful. Borders decrease upkeep by keeping plant materials and soil from escaping, making maintenance a breeze. Nicole explains, “Beds are easier because you can run a weed eater or spray weed killer along their edges.” If you need to define bed areas, metal edging may be a good choice. However, metal edging may not increase appeal or hold soil. If you want to increase appeal and functionality, try adding stone. Stone is timeless, versatile, and can be stacked to hold soil in place. Stone stacked borders are easy to work with and provide instant gratification.

SUGGESTIONS FOR EVERY BUDGET
If you’ve just bought a house or you have let your landscape go for way too long, Nicole suggests the following, broken out by budget.

Low budget
 Prune existing plant material, fertilize, and weed.
 Nicole’s quick fix: add fresh pine straw or mulch. “I find that most people are surprised at how nice their landscape looks after a fresh top dressing.” Add an annual color area or additional plants.
Professional landscape clean-ups start at around $1200.

Medium budget
 Extend existing beds by adding another layer of plants and clean up existing plant material, if needed.
Professional landscape enhancement starts at around $2500.

Large Budget
 Remove existing plant materials and start over or clean up existing plants. Add new shrubs, plants, or trees.
Professional landscape makeovers start at around $4000.

PLANTING TIPS:
 Call MS One Call 811
 Remove existing weeds or grass with weed killer, cardboard, or plastic before beginning projects. Pull quote: Want to avoid chemical herbicides? Check out www.treehugger. com for safe, homemade herbicides.
 Till existing soil. Tilling will reduce compaction and assist plants with rooting.
 Add soil. By adding loamy soil (loose, fertile soil with organic matter), you are providing nutrients and helping with drainage.
 Loosen pot-bound roots. Plants that have been growing for months in the same pot can have roots that look like a circling, tangled mess. Loosen pot bound roots before planting so they can branch out in the soil and create a good foundation for the plant.
 Backfill holes with native and loamy soil. This creates a nice transition for roots to enter native soils.
 Research a plant’s ideal growing conditions, size, and type (evergreen or deciduous, perennial or annual, water requirements, pest/disease problems, and light requirements).

LOCAL SUPPLIERS
For those living in the Jackson, MS area, the specialty merchants may be helpful in your landscaping projects:

Irrigation company:
Ewing Irrigation
112 E Marketridge Rd.
Ridgeland, MS 39157
Phone: (601)991-3185

Stone source:
Morgan Stone
1837 MS-471
Brandon, MS 39047
Phone: (601)824-5100

Precast stones
(wall & stepping stones):

Evans Precast Concrete
Old Byram Rd.
Jackson, MS 39272
Phone: (601)372-7838

Irrigation Installation:
Wilson & Wilson Irrigation
2610 Lakeland Dr.
Flowood, MS 39232
Phone: (601)939-8810


FOR HELP WITH YOUR LANDSCAPE
Nicole Butler Hutchins, Landscaping Sales
Green Oak Florist and Garden Center
5009 Old Canton Road Jackson, MS
Garden Center: (601) 956-5022
florist@greenoakms.com