If you’re thinking about selling your home, your front yard should be your first project. Landscaping is often the potential’s buyer’s first impression of your house, whether they’re driving around the neighborhood or browsing real estate websites. Even a small investment can have big returns, but you need to keep in mind what people are looking for.

Keep it Native

If you’re looking to add some greenery, research your state’s natural ecosystem. Native plants provide habitats for local birds and have much lower maintenance costs than foreign plants. With water shortages and the dangers of pesticides consistently in the news, the “naturescaping” movement is growing stronger. While it might not be wise to cultivate a prairie in front of a home you’re about to sell, a listing that boasts native trees, bushes, and flowers will certainly appeal to many.

photo by shadowfirearts / CC0

Simplicity is key

Your yard only needs to look well-kept and ready for any given homeowner to make it their own. If a buyer gets the impression that they’ll need to put in a lot of work to make a peculiar space fit their style, they may be turned off to the home. A lot of landscaping happens year by year, one plant at a time, and this can lead to an inconsistent look. Make sure that each piece works as part of the whole and come up with a theme that matches the style of the house.

Hardscaping is Transformative

If you’re spending a fortune to keep your grass green, make hardscaping your first priority. Flagstone is affordable, easy to install, and looks great around a wide variety of homes. Paving bricks are a bit more labor intensive but can give your driveway a historic and charming look. Be careful when combining textures, however. Any more than two types of rock will probably give you a chaotic Flintstones look.

photo by Media Director / CC0

Light it up

Some buyers may not be able to stop by until after work and you’ll want to make sure they can see all your hard work. Outdoor lighting around a patio or walkway can create a warm atmosphere for grilling out or entertaining friends. Brightening those dark corners can also discourage burglars. Don’t overdo it, though — be deliberate when illuminating a path, providing just enough light to get from one point to the next. Lighting interesting trees or bushes can also give your yard some color at night.

Don’t Forget About Water

Before you dig anywhere, consult your city’s drainage requirements and research methods to make rainwater go where you want it to. Digging in the wrong spot can flood your basement, erode your foundation, and dry out your plants. A well-placed rain garden can prevent all of the above. Porous paving materials, such as flagstone, bricks, and interlocking pavers, allows water to infiltrate the ground, preventing excess water from overloading the storm drain.