Curb appeal is real. And not just for homeowners looking to sell. Quick and budget-friendly updates to your home’s exterior are easier than a remodel, but boost pride of ownership and add value just the same. Here are 5 cheap ways to upgrade the look of your home.

1. Wash your house
Every house needs a good rinse from time to time, and, no, a rainy spring won’t cut it. Dirt, road dust, mildew, spider webs, soot, and other grime collect on a house’s exterior and can create a dull and dingy appearance. While a pressure washer can remove grime and then some (an absolute must before a new paint job), not all surfaces can handle the strength of the spray (some may even be damaged — I’m looking at you, single-paned windows). A hose with a sprayer and some elbow grease can get the job done as effectively, with less risk to your exterior surfaces.

Do a little research before you begin to ensure you select the right method for your particular abode (pressure washing versus hand washing, soap versus water only, etc.) Make sure windows and doors are shut before you start, use drop cloths to cover up fragile landscaping, and get ready to see your home sparkle again.

2. Paint your entry door
While painting your entire exterior is a surefire way to upgrade the look of your home, it’s not exactly cheap. Painting your entry door can add a pop of color and much-needed visual interest to the front of your home. Choose colors like green, red, or black for a classic effect, or go for a more whimsical, contemporary vibe with unusual shades of bright yellow, lime, or orange.

3. Plant an ornamental tree
Landscaping the yard isn’t always an option for homeowners short on time or cash, but planting a single, gorgeous tree in your front yard can pay dividends for years to come. Ornamental trees (like coveted Japanese maples, dogwoods, magnolias, and the weeping cherry) are known for their spectacular foliage and/or blooms that draw attention to your landscape. Think about what your front yard uniquely needs — extra shade, a pop of color, a bit more personality — and try to select a tree that meets those requirements. Before you settle on a specimen, consider things like yard space, growth rate, soil requirements, and zone ratings to ensure the tree you’re selecting can thrive in your particular climate.

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4. Update exterior lighting
Rethinking your home’s exterior lighting is good for scenery and safety. Install new fixtures (like low-voltage or solar landscape lighting) to illuminate a walkway or highlight a favorite ornamental tree or flower bed. Replace dated or uninspiring light fixtures on your patio, garage, or porch with something visually pleasing that also compliments the look of your home.

5. Create a container garden
Nothing brightens an exterior like some beautiful blooms. Raised planters and pots filled with annuals, herbs, low-water succulents, or even container-friendly edibles make for a cheerful, fragrant, and movable addition to any home’s exterior (they also require less work than permanent landscaping changes). Consider adding a container garden to brighten your front or back porch or entryway, alongside a driveway, or next to any other pathways that could use brightening.

To make your home’s inside match its outside, find out how to defeat dust and clean the green way. Plus, the Scott Brothers show you how to get rid of scratches (thanks to the walnut)!

A beautiful home doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg, and neither does the right homeowners coverage. Get a quote today to see how much you could save.

DIY hacks | Home and garden

about Rebecca

Rebecca is a freelance copywriter and editor living in the SF Bay Area with her husband and two kids. She enjoys productively channeling her anxiety into safety-minded articles for home and garden, running with her robot trainer, and advocating on behalf of the Oxford comma.