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Lynn’s Top 10 Exterior Things to Do Before Listing Your Home

The following post is from a guest writer and friend of Home Sweet Des Moines, Lynn Kuhn.  Lynn is the founder of  Outdoors Transformations here in the Des Moines area. She loves to create spaces where conversations can take place and relationships can grow. Photo: Lynn Kuhn

Lynn’s Top 10 Exterior Things to Do Before Listing Your Home

I’m obsessed with lists. Lists provide lots of information quickly. As a landscape architect with 25 years of experience, I advise homeowners on all things EXTERIOR. Today, I’m sharing one of my most popular lists for homeowners and realtors. I want you to get multiple offers and sell it FAST, and paying attention to the exterior is how you get that done. Enjoy!

1. Follow House Color Rules

▪Choose at least 3 colors (body, trim, accent).

▪To play it safe, choose colors that look good on men.

▪To be trendy, choose tone on tone color schemes, such as 3 shades of gray, not 50, just 3 will do.

▪Also trending, nature-inspired colors, such as soft greens and golds, and darker shades of blue.

2. Address Architectural Features

▪Emphasize/De-emphasize features as needed with paint. Paint can be your best friend when getting ready to sell, and it’s affordable. 

▪Add/Remove features as needed. For example, if you have outdated features such as gingerbread, remove it. If your house is boring, add shutters and/or window boxes in your accent color, or a lamppost.

3.Remove/Add Plants

▪Remove dead, weak, chaotic plantings, and especially weeds.

▪Strategically place colorful potted plants. Use neutral-colored pots such as black, gray, or white, or use your chosen accent color. Make them all the same color if possible.

▪Add smart plants to fill gaps in the landscape. You may need a landscape architect or designer to help you select the right plants without blowing the budget.

4. Depersonalize

▪Remove the family name and garden décor. Nobody wants to see your stuff.  It’s a distraction. 

5. Spruce up the lawn

▪Mow and trim as needed. This seems obvious, but I’m amazed at how many for-sale signs are sitting in the long grass.

▪Start early. Remove large patches of weeds, such as Creeping Charlie. Things take time, so plan ahead.

6. Define edges

▪Smooth lines are pleasing to the eye. A little effort will pay off.

▪Remove outdated/broken edging.

▪Use edging or “natural” edge around mulch beds.

7. Mulch

▪Use shredded cedar or dark brown colored mulch, NOT bright colors.

▪Add mulch rings around trees. Do NOT pile mulch up against the trunk. This can kill a tree over time and tells a buyer that you don’t know how to care for a tree.

8. Remove Outdated & Damaged Materials

▪Remove broken or outdated edging, concrete block walls, splash dishes at downspouts, etc.

9. Clean, Clean, Clean!

▪Gutters, siding, deck, etc.


10. Create Inviting Outdoor Spaces (a.k.a. Conversation Gardens)

▪Use attention grabbers such as splashes of color or strong focal points.

▪Define the space as you would an interior room.

▪Use thoughtful furnishings such as pillows, rugs, flower vases, etc.

▪Consider Mother Nature. Mitigate sun, wind, bugs, etc.

▪Green it up by adding permanent and/or potted plants. The greener the better!


There’s one more thing… PHOTOGRAPHY! Include several pictures of the exterior when listing your home online. If you plan to list in the winter, plan ahead! Get professional photography in the summer or whenever the exterior looks its best. 


If you like this list, then stay tuned for my next one: Top 10 Reasons You Need to Hire a Landscape Architect BEFORE You Build Your Home.



The following post is from a guest writer Lynn Kuhn founder of  Outdoors Transformations