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Put on a good front and make selling easy; At Home FIRST impressions count - especially if you have your house up for sale. So how can you drastically improve your home's kerb appeal? ANN EVANS discovers that having an attractive front garden can add significant value to your home.

Byline: ANN EVANS

IF you are thinking of selling your house, take a good look at your front garden - it can make or break a sale.

Now spring has sprung many houses are going on the market.

But there is an easy way to ensure yours stands out from the crowd.

Plant for Life, the organisation that helps people make the most of their gardens, recently undertook a survey with Midlands estate agents and discovered that a well-maintained front garden can add as much as pounds 5,000 to the value of a property.

Not only that, but your front garden holds the key to creating strong first impressions and contributing to a sale - or not, as the case may be.

But while 97 per cent of estate agents agreed that a well-maintained front garden can help a property seem more appealing to prospective buyers, almost half believed we are just not making the most of them.

Estate agents have seen many bizarre front garden 'features' when valuing properties, including phone boxes, army tanks, coffins (one open), gravestones, Elvis statues, a fire engine, a Second World War submarine, an elephant, a full-sized Dalek and a Stonehenge replica.

But help is at hand. Plants for Life has teamed up with property experts William H Brown to develop the First Impressions guide - offering simple garden designs, flowers and plants, and maintenance advice for all types of garden and gardener.

Tony Wright, regional director from William H Brown, said: "In today's market when it comes to selling, your home is competing against many other properties, so it is crucial that you create a strong first impression the moment a buyer pulls up outside your house.

"Buyers have been known to leave without viewing the property if they see a messy front garden.

So, spending time presenting the outside of your home as carefully as the inside can make a different when converting a viewing into an offer."

HOW TO GET GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION

IF your front garden is used for practical reasons (parking the car) this should not signal the end of your front garden - there are plenty of gardening tricks you can adopt to boost your garden's selling power.

Use ground-cover plants and containers placed in the non-driveway space or try separating the driveway from the rest of the garden with small trees or shrub borders.

IF there is soil available, try planting low-maintenance, ground-cover plants such as creeping juniper. Ground-cover plants not only brighten up the garden but they also help deter weeds from growing.

MAKE the most of any walls or fences and plant climbing plants or even fruit trees trained to the wall.

EVEN if you don't have a front garden there are still plenty of ways to use the available space to create positive first impressions.

The most simple, low-maintenance way to do this is with window boxes and containers placed either side of the front door.

A GARDEN should have the effect of framing the house - so get creative.

A GOOD design can make a small space appear much larger.

CLEVER planting can add privacy to your home.

FOR a copy of First Impressions pick up from participating William H Brown estate agents or download for free from www.plantforlife.info

CAPTION(S):

NEAT AND TIDY... First impressions are important as an attractive front garden, whatever the size (above, right and below right), will attract buyers rather than put them off.
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Apr 5, 2008
Words:574
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