An outdoor sofa, bench seat or a couple of chairs on the front porch can make a space feel more inviting, but think security; avoid placing anything valuable there if your yard is unfenced, easily visible from the road or close to it, and consider anti-theft measures like a motion-sensor light and camera.
Strategically placed shrubs can create a leafy walkway to the front door. Angular lines give a contemporary look, while a rounded shape feels classic. “I love the look of formed plants among ones in natural form, like round clipped westringia among flowing grasses,” says Chloe Thomson of @beantheredugthat, host of Bunnings podcast Staying Grounded.
If your front yard is strewn with empty pots, broken swing sets and the odd old hose, now's the time to give them away, recycle or dispose of responsibly.
If you have unused space at the side of your house, look into housing your bins there and installing a carefully positioned screen to keep them hidden (check your local council regulations). “Consider running a 900mm width screen at 90° to the side of the house – it will divert your attention to a great-looking garden screen and still give you access to the side of your house,” suggests Con Calagis, marketing manager at Whites Group.
“It's important to get broad-leaf weeds like bindii and clover under control,” says Angie Thomas, horticultural consultant to Yates. “Clover competes with the lawn and makes it look untidy, and bindii produces nasty prickles in spring and summer.” Tackle the problem with a selective weedkiller. To repair bare spots, gently aerate the soil, add some lawn seed and ensure the area is kept moist while the new grass sprouts, then feed with a specialised lawn fertiliser. Keep the edges neat and tidy with a trimmer.
An old letterbox can really bring down your kerb appeal. Replacing it is an easy DIY job with plenty of off-the-shelf styles to choose from. Also, can friends and family find your house on the street? Another quick upgrade to make your house appear more inviting is to replace your house numbers with a spanking new set.
Flowers and plants in pots, boxes or planters can add plenty of appeal. “Use plants of various heights, colours and textures to add interest in your family of pots,” says Chloe Thomson. “For grasses that are great along the edges of paths and walkways for movement and to look at, consider lomandra, blue fescue and Poa labillardierei (common tussock grass).”
Refresh the timber or make a statement with a brave new colour. “A focal point draws the eye and adds personality to your exterior,” says Dulux colour expert Andrea Lucena-Orr. Factor in your home's architecture and the hues in your surrounds to create a sense of harmony. “Consider the colours in your garden as well as on your roof, driveway and decorative features such as tiles,” adds Andrea. There are other areas that will look great with a coat of paint, too, such as planters, benches and boundary fences.
Easy and affordable, updating your door handle, escutcheon and knocker is one of the simplest things you can do to add an instant lift and make a decor statement at your front entrance. Find a set that suits the architecture of your home.
A cracked and weedy path is never a good look. Some young and small weeds can be kept in check with simple solutions like boiling hot water poured directly over them. For the most pesky, Chloe suggests using an organic herbicide like Eco-Organic Garden's Slasher. “This won't harm soil microbiology and is safe to use around vegie gardens and fruit trees,” she says. If the pathway's had its day, there are affordable ways to upgrade it. A pebble path with stepping stones and brick or steel edging won't cost much, but will add a wow factor. An alternative is teaming stepping stones with perennial plants that can tolerate the odd stomp. “Creeping thyme would be beautiful. I love slightly taller plants like Convolvulus cneorum ‘Silver Bush' too. Prostrate rosemary is fragrant and a great ground cover,” says Chloe. “Ground-covering Aussie natives like Myoporum parvifolium (creeping boobialla) look good in a perennial cottage garden.”
A well-lit path or an illuminated tree will add ambience to a front garden, not to mention improving your home's safety. Wired-in lighting can be expensive as it will need a professional tradie to install, but there are plenty of affordable solar options now available, including decorative string lights, lanterns and post lights that can line the edge of a walkway. Finding the front door shouldn't be hard either; highlight it clearly with a pair of attractive wall-mounted lights on either side of the door, or if space doesn't allow, place one above the door. Always ensure your lights are suitable for exterior use, even if they are to be used under cover.
Clogged, overgrown gutters are never a good look, and overflowing water can wreak havoc on the foundations of your home. “Neglected gutters are problem gutters. Regular maintenance and protective meshes are an important control measure to keep your home looking great and avoiding costly maintenance and repairs,” says Con.
Specialist paint can give concrete driveways a new finish, hiding oil and rust stains. It can also protect the concrete and may help extend its life.
A decent clean can get rid of dirt and mould on painted surfaces, brick, concrete and wood, making patios, roofs, decks and fences look good as new. However, the strength of pressure washers may cause damage, so follow the instructions carefully.
If you're up for a full front yard plant makeover, take cues from your home's architecture and choose plants to reflect its style.
Modern homes: “Focus on foliage and form over flowers,” says Chloe Thomson. “Statement trees like maples, succulents and grasses planted en masse work well.”
Coastal: “Think Australian natives like Banksia integrifolia, grasses and compact plants like Leucophyta ‘Cushion Bush' and woolly bush. Also, succulents like pig face and chalk sticks,” says Chloe
Heritage: “These homes suit perennial borders that follow a colour theme or style,” says Chloe. “I would recommend salvias, lavender, English box or formal hedging and roses.”
For more great gardening tips, tune in to the hit podcast Staying Grounded, hosted by horticulturalist Chloe Thomson.
Asbestos, lead-based paints and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber are health hazards you need to look out for when renovating older homes. These substances can easily be disturbed when renovating and exposure to them can cause a range of life-threatening diseases and conditions including cancer. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page.
When following our advice in our D.I.Y. videos, make sure you use all equipment, including PPE, safely by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Check that the equipment is suitable for the task and that PPE fits properly. If you are unsure, hire an expert to do the job or talk to a Bunnings Team Member.