Tips for Enhancing Curb Appeal in Drought-Ridden California

California drought

Photo courtesy of Gordon; Flickr Creative Commons 2.0

As you peruse real estate listings these days you probably aren’t surprised to find a shortage in supply. Shortage is the operative word here as you check properties out with a fine tooth comb. It is no secret that curb appeal draws buyers in, but lately it is hard to look past front lawns dotted with brown, dried patches. Yes, it is true, California’s drought is a real threat to sellers throughout the state. In stark contrast to the pleasant images of palm tree-lined streets, white picket fences, and endless summer sun, California homeowners are looking for ways around strict conservation restrictions to keep their lawns green, luscious, and buyer-friendly. After all, first impressions are everything, right?

Your watering options are drying up

Before you give up on entirely on your lawn—or opt to test boundaries by shirking conservation policies—it is important to know what you can and cannot do. Estimates of water consumption statewide reveal that about fifty percent of water usage comes from a combination of lawn and outdoor landscape watering activities. To combat the negative impact of keeping lawns and landscapes green, regulators have prohibited driveway and sidewalk hose downs, and any outdoor décor not using recirculating water. Additionally, local water providers are limiting residents to watering activities to a handful of days a week.

What we are seeing in these conservation policies is a strong reaction to the storied excess in water consumption. Furthermore, as wet weather appears far from making an appearance it looks like these restrictions are here to stay. The short of it: find new ways to change the focus of your home’s curb appeal.

Salvaging your green

If you still have green in your lawn there are ways to keep it going as an integral part of your home’s curb appeal. A few key actions should maintain your lawn’s health and longevity: feeding regularly, mowing high, and watering deeply instead of frequently.

While grass is still green, invest in quality feed. Fertilizing grass replenishes nutrients that encourage growth and cooling which helps your grass go the distance in hotter temperatures. Once your grass has been given encouragement to grow, keep in mind that you will want to mow high to help your lawn retain moisture.  Cutting the grass short does not give roots the ability to permeate deeper into the soil where they are more apt to gather moisture. Besides letting roots grow deep, you also want to water deep too.  If you are under strict watering restrictions, you’re better off saturating and “watering deep.” When lawns are watered more frequently for shorter times, water doesn’t permeate the soil as deeply and evaporates quicker during drier times.  The deeper the roots and the deeper the watering, the better off your lawn will be as the higher layers of soil dry out.

There’s no doubt that green lawns create great curb appeal.  But what can you do if you can’t have a green lawn?  Are cacti and desert rock, or lots of green spray paint your only option?  No.

Redirect the buyer’s attention

When your lawn is beyond covering a few brown patches—something you can rectify with new seed and thorough follow up—your potential buyers’ eyes will need to be directed elsewhere. Normally, unkempt lawns can be a turn off to buyers’ as it raises a concern that the inside or bones of the home are similarly neglected. However, knowledgeable agents can help buyers’ see the real prize—the home itself.

That all being said, it’s important to do what you can to pull someone’s eyes away from a drought-ridden yard. Keeping the exterior of your home pristine is a good way to draw a buyer’s attention. To ensure that your home has its best foot forward, make sure that paint is not chipping or discolored by weather. Dirt on your exterior can also detract from your home’s sheen so you can rent a power washer to get the grime off.  Here are other tips for enhancing curb appeal.

A great distraction from the not-so-green in your lawn can be planters and beds full of blooms and great bushes. Hit up a local garden store ahead of listing or photographing your home’s exterior to pull attention away from the lawn without completely making the yard irrelevant. The same care should go for trimming foliage excess on trees and bushes. And it goes without saying, if your wallet can withstand the hit, opt to revamp your lawn by reseeding it with products that are more apt to endure during heat waves.

You can also break up the mass of dead lawn by adding additional beds with colorful foliage, or with rock.  These new beds will break up the big dead lawn into smaller patches of dead, while adding color.

Promote the pretty parts while minimizing the lawn

A seasoned and knowledgeable agent can show off the benefits of your property while minimizing the dead lawn with just the right amount of creativity and imagination. While the current California drought show no sign of abating, a good Realtor will help you show off the true beauty of your home.

Keeping your home’s curb appeal at its best should be your top priority if you expect top dollar and a quick sale. That being said, when Mother Nature—and state regulators—make the effort more challenging, bear in mind that there are things you can control and do to make your home’s first impression a great, lasting one.  Your competition will suffer the same problems, so if you can overcome the obstacles set by watering restrictions, your listing will look that much better.

If you are buying or selling a house and are looking to hire a successful real estate agent to help you through the process, take a look at AgentHarvest's list of top-ranking local Realtors in your area. We found these agents by examining their sales track records, awards, rankings, client testimonials and by conducting personal interviews.



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