Townhouses can be freehold or part of a condominium. What you CAN do will depend on the type of townhome you are selling.
Ignore the fact you might be working with a tiny front yard. Put aside your concerns about shared walls and condo restrictions that make it difficult to adapt generic curb appeal advice. In this post, I’ll help you achieve the curb appeal your neighbours would die for.
Know the condominium rules before you begin – if this applies to you.
Any condo rules governing your townhouse community will determine which curb appeal projects you’re allowed to take on.
Legally and financially, a freehold townhouse is the same as a regular single-family house. The homeowner owns both the house and the land it is built on. They are responsible for all the maintenance, including roof, windows, electrical, plumbing, etc.
So, you’re good to go if your townhouse isn’t restricted by a condo association. If your home is part of a condo community, review your Covenants, Codes, and Restrictions (CCRs) before you make any curb appeal plans. Any major changes to your curb appeal typically must be approved by the condo association. There are bound to be a few rules that limit what you can do to your home’s exterior and your front yard, including:
- Restricting exterior paint colours
- Landscaping maintenance or changes
- Changes to exterior light fixtures, mailboxes, or house numbers
- Attaching decor to your exterior (flagpoles, trellises, shutters, flower boxes, etc.)
- Adding permanent or semi-permanent structures
Now, let’s look at how you can add curb appeal to your defined space. Let’s use the house as your canvas with these seven townhouse-specific curb appeal tips.
- Display tasteful garden sculptures
The CCRs may govern what’s allowable in your front yard. But they don’t have to totally cramp your townhouse curb appeal style. The CCRs may restrict you from making permanent changes to your front yard. But most allow you to personalize the space with garden sculptures. Make sure the pieces are moveable and not permanently installed.
A garden sculpture adds an eye-catching décor statement. It also serves as a visible way for people to identify your unit among your identical neighbours – “the house with the dragon in the garden”.
- Install window boxes to add colour and greenery
Most townhouses don’t have much outdoor space for adding eye-catching greenery. Window boxes filled with colourful plants are ideal for improving curb appeal.
You can buy window boxes from any major home improvement retailer. They come in a variety of colours and styles to match your home. You can spend as little as $10 or as much as $100 on a single box depending on how high-end you want to go.
You can hang window boxes yourself with a drill and 3-inch galvanized screws. Check out this handy guide from This Old House, a 40-year-old home-enthusiast brand. (Make sure to choose a window box that’s about 6 inches longer than the window).
Does your condo association forbid you from directly mounting your window boxes on the exterior of your townhouse? You still have options. Some window boxes, also known as deck rail planters, are designed to hang from porch rails without permanently attaching them.
According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, window boxes look best with lots of plants arranged close together. The Almanac recommends anchoring your window box with some base flowers like:
- Flank your front door with towering topiaries
Ok. First off, what is a ‘topiary’? It’s a bush or shrub trimmed into a geometric or fancy shape.
What if your front door is the only outdoor area you have domain over out front? You can transform the tiny space into a showplace with a pair of towering topiaries. Flank your front door with topiaries, and all of a sudden you’ve got a grand entrance.
Pro tip: Opt for artificial topiaries, like a pair of spiral topiaries like these from Home Depot. This will eliminate the need for any pruning to maintain the shape of the topiaries.
Many artificial topiaries like the ones above come in the same plastic pots as live plants. That way you can pick planters that match your townhome’s style, whether that would be sleek and modern planters or classic urns.
- Install trellises or arches for vining plants
Most townhouses are typically two stories or more. Don’t restrict your curb appeal plans to the ground floor only. You can give your curb appeal some height with greenery — as long as it does not attach to the building itself.
Greenery growing on freestanding trellises and garden arbours won’t even hit the second story. However, their lean height will draw the eye upward and include your upper levels in your curb appeal story.
You can pick up trellises, arbours, and other vine support options for as little as $15 and up into the hundreds, depending on the design and construction materials.
A bare trellis won’t do much to improve your curb appeal, so make sure to pick up a fast-growing vine to plant alongside it. The gardening pros at Ritchie Feed & Seed recommend:
- Orange trumpet vine
- Climbing hydrangea
- Clematis flowering vine
- Honeysuckle vine
- Create height in your flower beds with tall container gardens
Depending on your townhome’s design (or condo association rules), you may not have the space or permission to add a structure as sizable as a trellis to your petite front yard. That doesn’t mean you need to abandon your quest for height. You can create a similar effect by varying the height of plantings in your flower beds with tall planters.
Adding container gardens to your in-ground flower beds creates elevation without altering the terrain. Get even more height in your container gardens by adding vines and climbing plants that grow well in containers, such as:
- English ivy
- Star jasmine
Container gardens also offer you the opportunity to add pops of colour to your townhouse’s curb appeal, without violating most CCRs. There are any number of flowering plants that grow well in containers, and you can boost those hues by planting them in colourful containers. If flowers aren’t your thing, opt for outdoor plants that have colourful leaves or interesting textures.
- Plant hedges along your property line for privacy
Tall greenery does more than bring attention to your townhouse’s height. It creates a natural privacy screen between you and your neighbours. As an added bonus, some property line plants also act as a natural noise reducer.
Get year-round privacy by selecting evergreen shrubs that won’t lose their leaves in the winter. Boxwood shrubs are a popular choice for creating privacy hedges. Most varieties are hearty and easily shaped.
- Use a shed to hide eyesores
Greenery requires maintenance. That creates a unique problem for townhouse sellers.
How are you going to get the lawnmower to the front yard? Roll it through your kitchen? Don’t laugh – I get that question all the time from clients.
Luckily, townhouse front yards are typically tiny, so you can use a “weed wacker” to trim it. But you still need a space to hide it and other front yard garden tools.
I recommend an outdoor bench with built-in storage is your best option.
“Condo conformity” is not a negative
It can be a little tough to improve your curb appeal when you read through your condo association’s extensive CCRs. But don’t forget the silver lining. Being part of a condo can actually take some of the burden off your shoulders because you won’t need to lay out thousands to repaint your home or redo the roof.
As for free-hold townhouse owners, take note: Being free of condo restrictions should not be treated as a license to go crazy with creative curb appeal. That’s a big mistake when you’re attached to your neighbour.
Rather than going as unique as you can, play it cool with your creativity. Keep it tasteful, and craft curb appeal plans that embrace townhouse living.
If you need some help to decide on what to do, just give me a shout or drop me a line. I am always happy to help out.