You really only get one chance to make a first impression and this couldn’t be any more true than when you are trying to sell your home. It only makes sense that the first thing any potential buyer will see when driving up to your house is the front yard and, in sluggish housing markets, a nicely manicured and landscaped front lawn can make all the difference between attracting buyers and turning them away.

Because these first impressions can be a deal breaker for many home buyers, you want to be sure that you have done all you can to create curb appeal. The primary reason for this is that many buyers lack the imagination to visualize the landscape of a house they are thinking of buying so you want to do all you can with the front yard to create an alluring and aesthetically pleasing exterior which will have them wanting to see even more of the home.

That said, what can you do to improve your home’s curb appeal? Common sense will dictate the first step: talk a walk outside and get a view of how your home appears from the street. You want to look at your house with the eye of a prospective buyer and take notice of any messy or unkempt bushes, grass or other greenery which may be obscuring interesting architectural features or design elements. Pruning such trees and shrubs will give a more open, expansive look and entice people to take a closer look.

In terms of the lawn, you will want to keep it well-fed and watered. Regular mowing and a manicured lawn tell prospective buyers that the home has been maintained well and cared for lovingly which will increase its perceived value. In addition, be sure to pull weeds from the pavement, walkways and driveway areas.

The opinion of potential buyers is formed as the travel up the walkway to the front door which is why it is important to be sure this area is completely free from dirt, debris and extraneous matter. Try placing a decorative flower pot or two at the entryway to add a touch of comfort and color to your entryway as well.

Although we have spent a lot of time talking about the front yard, don’t forget to work on your backyard as well. Even though it can’t easily be seen from the road it is just as important to potential buyers who may decide to peak over the hedges for a quick look while house hunting. Make sure to organize tools, put away toys and clean up anything left in the yard that can detract from its appearance. Some great ways to liven up a drab backyard are using colored or tinted concrete, adding perennials to your flower beds and installing lighting to accentuate certain areas.

Speaking of lighting, there is simply no better way to enhance curb appeal. Outdoor lighting can be strategically placed along the driveway and behind shrubbery to accentuate desired areas of the exterior. You may also want to consider using sconces and other architectural lighting elements to really give your home a classic and luxury look. Lighting can completely change the look and feel of a home so don’t be afraid to use it to your advantage.

When you are preparing to sell your home, the front yard is one area where you shouldn’t skimp. A visually appealing and well-planned front lawn and entryway will not only entice buyers but will increase the sale value as well. Landscaping is one of the few areas of home improvement where you can actually see the results of your hard-earned money immediately but you still need to be careful that you do not overdo it. Remember not to add elements that are incongruous with the surrounding neighborhood because your landscaping can quickly turn from a great, value-adding project to an eyesore that will drive away buyers.

Try out some of the advice in the preceding article and you’re sure to be on your way to creating a home that will have buyers flocking to see it. If you feel overwhelmed there are many home improvement stores that offer free advice and even offer low-cost services themselves.