You have de-cluttered your house, decorated, cleaned and preened and you think it’s time to put it on the market.

But there’s one area that makes an even greater impact than anything you have done inside, write new Zoopla contributors Caroline Knight and Karin Hawkes of Kerb Appeal South East.

The area in question is the space outside your front door – and it doesn’t matter whether it is tiny, paved, gravelled, lawned, simply plain or elaborately ornate – it’s your front garden and it represents more than you might imagine.

The front of your house is like a window into its soul. It can create desire, distaste, or even disgust.

20.01.14 Kerb Appeal outside 3

What do we like about the frontage of the above three bedroom property?

1. The clean lines give an air of neatness.

2. There is easy access to the front door, with no overhanging plants or scratchy hedges to snag your arms.

3. The mud-free path will help to keep the house clean in winter.

4. The neatly-trimmed geometric shape of the hedges echo the style of the house.

5. The un-cluttered simplicity is pleasing on the eye.

6. The sense of enclosure gives an element of privacy.

Before you do anything more, get in the car and take a very short journey. Drive past your house and glance at it as you cruise past. You could stop over the road and take in the scene. Or even walk by. What do you see? Is it a pleasure to behold? Does it give you a welcoming view? Notice the negatives as this is a chance to get the most from your investment and just a little effort goes a long way.

Check the basics:

• Is the paintwork on the house clean and sound or is it peeling like the skin of an old lizard?

• Does your door step look as if a rugby team have just visited?

• Are your wheelie bins slouching in your direct line of vision like two smelly teenagers? Can they be screened or temporarily re-homed? (the bins, not the teenagers). If there is no alternative, at least make sure they are clean and fresh.

• Are your hedges neatly trimmed or do they convey an impression of the Amazonian jungle complete with unknown savages lurking within?

• Are the fences and walls sound or do those missing bricks suggest that the driveway is too narrow?

• Does your planting look dreary or even dead? It might be winter, but there are plenty of green beauties to tide you over.

• Are any of your plants reaching out to nip your visitors’ ankles like a snappy dog? If so, it might be time for some judicious pruning.

• If your lawn looks like a patch of neglected wasteland it could benefit from a neat trim, including crisp edges.

• Check that the front door can be opened easily by the estate agent. If it squeaks and groans, give it some oil or a coat of paint.

• Is the door furniture securely fixed and polished?

• Is that a bird’s nest spilling from the gutter? Take a look and clear any debris.

• Use your nose – are there any foul smells? If so, find the source and eliminate them.

• Let there be light – check any exterior illumination is working.

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Before Kerb Appeal’s intervention: The straight front path feels very restricted, making it difficult to carry bags of shopping or to hold the hand of a small child. The hedge and planting overshadows the space, which feels very narrow and rather severe.

20.01.14 Kerb Appeal outside 1

After: The front now has a useful parking space and feels wide and spacious, with gentle curves leading the eye pleasingly around the space.

20.01.14 Kerb Appeal outside 4

And finally, sweep the paths of mud and moss. Are they adequate? Perhaps a wider path might create an illusion of space? Consider creating a parking space if there isn’t one already (planning permission is usually required). Neatly trim any plants that look unsightly and consider adding some structural planting to enhance any features of the house that you want to emphasise.

Caroline Knight and Karin Hawkes are passionate about the beneficial impact that outdoor space can have on a property. An effective garden, courtyard or even parking space can not only provide considerable charm but also offer enormous benefits for occupants of homes of all sizes – from the tiniest, diminutive dwelling to the most expansive country estate. This is why it is essential to make the most of your outside space before putting your property on the market.

20.01.14 Kerb Appeal outside 5

Caroline and Karin, who met while studying for a BA (Hons) in garden design, feel that front gardens represent a vastly neglected area. Their design and maintenance service, Kerb Appeal South East, seeks to correct this imbalance, thereby forming a missing link in the house sales process within KentSussex and Surrey. They are on a mission to enable sellers to enhance their properties with the minimum of fuss and upheaval, thereby maximising the selling potential of any home.


Some information contained herein may have changed since it was first published. Zoopla strongly advises you to seek current legal and/or financial advice from a qualified professional.

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