First impressions are everything. They color a prospective tenant’s perception of a property before they’ve stepped foot inside, and even before they’ve gotten out of their car. Hence the importance of curb appeal—“the visual attractiveness of a house as seen from the street,” according to Merriam-Webster. Property managers and landlords increase the rental property curb appeal of their properties through creative landscaping and front yard maintenance, beautifying porches and driveways with tasteful decorations, and attending to key features of their properties’ outward appearance (paint jobs, shutter styles, downspouts, etc.). And why do they go to such lengths? Because by maximizing curb appeal with immaculate landscaping and attractive façades, landlords can both reduce vacancy periods and increase their asking prices. That’s a win-win, and so we’ve assembled a guide for improving your rental’s curb appeal, complete with landscaping and decorating strategies, décor ideas for front yards, doorsteps and porches, and ways to make the front of your houses sparkle from the street (and we’ve tried to keep it all within the bounds of a reasonable budget). We’ve even put together a list of the most common eyesores that can negatively impact curb appeal.

Increasing Rental Property Curb Appeal Through Landscaping

Curb appeal, whether it’s for a rental property or a primary home, starts at the curb. This means keeping gutters clear of leaves, branches, mulch, trash, and any other detritus (and if the curb itself is chipped or broken in places, or the address number is painted on but starting to fade, you should tend to that, too). Beyond the curb, though, the focal point is going to be the front yard, so we’ve gathered some landscaping and decoration ideas for enhancing curb appeal, many of which can be accomplished quickly and on a budget.

painted home with perfect curb appeal

First things first: the lawn. The façade of your property might have an expert paint job, and you can lay down beautiful slabs of bluestone for a path from driveway to porch, but neither will amount to much if the grass is brown or growing past the knee. A lush, green, and well-manicured lawn will go a long way in favorably predisposing visitors to the property. For an in-depth look at what it takes to grow and maintain a showstopper of a lawn, check out our exhaustive guide to lawn care basics.

As for that bluestone path to the front porch, it also won’t do you much good if it isn’t well maintained and doesn’t stand out against the rest of the yard. This doesn’t mean just taking a weedwhacker to its borders (though that’s advisable, too). Make your paths and walkways more striking by placing planters or urns on either side of it—you can also achieve a similar effect by planting shrubs or flowers or installing subtle ground lights alongside walkways. If the front yard of a property is particularly spacious, consider adding a tasteful cast iron bench or pair of chairs alongside the path leading to the front door. And to give your paths and driveway an added oomph before each viewing, show up a bit early and make sure they’re swept.

If you do opt to plant more complicated gardens or flower beds, be mindful that such attractions might not appeal to every tenant equally. Personally, I’m not much of a gardener, and I often forget to water even my single little snake plant. To me, a garden out front of a house I’m considering renting translates to a great deal of upkeep, and I might be afraid of biting off more than I can chew. Instead of planting a wide variety of flora, consider just a few shrubs or a single variety of flowers. A little goes a long way.

Ideas for Porches and Front Doorsteps

So we’ve offered up some ideas for maximizing curb appeal with clever front yard landscaping and strategically placed décor like planters, chairs, or lights, but what about the porch and front doorstep? Don’t skimp here: in conjunction with the façade, this area serves as the face of the property, so make sure it’s well maintained and smiling, so to speak.

front porch with stained door and pots

One of the quickest and cheapest ways to increase curb appeal beyond the usual landscaping tactics is to simply replace or restore hardware that’s old or suffering from wear and tear. This might mean buying a little can of paint and touching up the mailbox, or hanging more attractive house numbers. If the property is older, it’s likely to have passed through the hands of a number of owners, each of whom might have made an update or two. Over the years this can result in an incoherent aesthetic: a traditional doorknob and knocker might not be the best match for an ultramodern light fixture. Create a consistent visual atmosphere by installing pieces of hardware that go well together.

As with the front yard, a few well-placed potted plants, chairs, tables, or benches can go a long way in enhancing curb appeal. Low maintenance is the key here: think waterproof furniture that can be easily hosed off and dried, or plants that require only infrequent watering. The last thing you want is a mildewed chair or bone-dry fern to detract from the careful image you’ve constructed for visitors.

Lastly, consider spicing up the front door. Give it a striking paintjob—but not too striking, we’re not talking hot pink here—that forms a pleasing contrast against the rest of the house. The door is a focal point that the eye automatically tracks to, so make it pop for both visitors and those just driving through the neighborhood.

Décor Ideas for the Front of the House: Brightening Up Those Windows

Prospective tenants ooh and aah as they pull up to the property if the lawn is looking good, and they might be impressed by stylish and tidy pathways leading to an inviting front porch, but if the house’s paintjob is shoddy or garish, the shutter styles are outdated, or the trim around the windows isn’t accented properly, they may be feeling a bit more reticent by the time they actually step foot in the house. Let’s round out our strategies for rental property curb appeal with one last stop: ideas for the front of the house.

house painter painting windows and trim

Window boxes are a relatively inexpensive way to add some flair to the front of your house, and by adding some of the same flowers that you may have planted in your front yard, you lend a coherent narrative to the property as a whole. If you go this route, be sure to choose plants that stand out nicely against the home: white or lighter colored flowers for a house with a darker paintjob, or more striking, vivid colored flowers for a white or lighter colored home.

Another low-maintenance flourish you can add to a home’s façade is an update to the trim around your windows. If you decide to give them a new paint job, take care to choose a color that nicely accents the front door or other focal points of the house. Springing for new shutters can also add significant curb appeal, and there are countless styles to choose from, not to mention their added utility of protecting windows during severe weather.

Eyesores: The Killers of Rental Curb Appeal

A tastefully propped-up rake along the side of the house is one thing, and it might even lend a homey vibe to the property, but oil-soaked gloves and overflowing leaf bags in the middle of the driveway aren’t going to appeal to the average prospective tenant. We’ve touched on a number of the things you can add to a front yard or porch to increase curb appeal, but you should also be mindful of the things that might annoy prospective tenants, and therefore warrant removal. Don’t let a few blemishes detract from all that hard work you’ve done to beautify your property. Here are some of the eyesores that can do a number on a rental’s curb appeal.

grass full of weeds and dandelions

  1. Unruly garden hoses (keep them reeled in or out of sight)
  2. Chain-link fences (replace them with traditional fencing, screen them with robust plants, or paint them a dark color)
  3. Trash/recycling bins (install a privacy screen to conceal them)
  4. HVAC units (build a latticed box or enclosure around it)
  5. Overgrown tree roots (cover with a layer of topsoil and mulch)
  6. Weeds (this one’s a no-brainer: pull or weedwhack ‘em!)
  7. Once your properties are all dolled up with immaculate landscaping and gleaming hardware, go the extra mile by eliminating these eyesores. It might make all the difference in finding your next tenant quickly.

Now you have some landscaping and décor ideas for enhancing the curb appeal of your properties by beautifying both the front yard and the front of the house (on a budget). Remember: if someone is in love with the house and its decorations before they’ve even reached the porch, you might just have a happy new tenant on your hands.

Need help bringing some of these ideas to life? Let’s get you connected with some of our landscapers or handymen.