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The concept of curb appeal — that first impression of a well-kept home — is something we all should shoot for, whether or not we’re putting a house on the market.

Just think what pleasure you receive when you see a house neatly tended, with some colorful or architectural plant to draw your eye.

Maybe there’s an enticing curved stone path for a sidewalk, and some porch furniture that makes you wish you could take a seat by the front door.

While an endless number of things can contribute to curb appeal, there are a few that detract and must be avoided, such as an unkempt yard.

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“That first glance is the most important,” says Realtor Margie Zwiesler of Re/Max Premier. “When I show a house and all the dead leaves are still there in the flower beds, it just gives the impression [the homeowners] don’t care. Overgrown trees and shrubs that cover up the house also need to be pruned to advantage.”

Zwiesler advises home sellers to invest in some mulch and tidy up the yard before putting the house on the market.

“If the landscaping is mulched and weeded and neat and clean, [buyers] are going to assume the house is kept the same way,” she says. “I think landscaping is just as important as staging the house — staging the outside as well. You’re forming a picture of the house for a buyer. They drive by and do in fact come inside.”

Adam Henning, of Precision Lawn & Landscape in Wichita, Kan., says he has clients who seek help with their front yard when selling a house. He advises the use of shredded cedar mulch as well as bright annual flowers.

“Let’s say you’ve got shrubs out front and they’re not in bloom,” Henning says. “The annuals dress that up.” The flowers can go in garden beds, if there’s room, or in pots on the front porch or perhaps in front of the garage, he says.

The more houses that have curb appeal, the more appealing our neighborhoods and cities are — and the more joy we can spread.

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