You just can’t underestimate the importance of curb appeal when selling your home.

In fact, 99 percent of real estate experts agree that curb appeal is vital in attracting a buyer, according to a 2016 National Association of Realtors survey.

A big part of that first impression is your yard and landscaping. Brown patches on your lawn, tangled branches, out-of-control weeds and overgrown bushes could make that potential buyer drive right by your house.

“First impressions are huge, and I have driven up and clients have said we’re not going in. Nobody cares about this house,” said Deb Greene, a Twin Cities Realtor at Coldwell Banker Burnet.

Need more incentive? Some experts say a well-maintained and attractive landscape can add as much as 10 percent to 15 percent to the value of your home.

“To me, it shows that the property has been kept, so it should give you a comfortable idea that the house has also probably been maintained,” said Jessica W. Crocker, a broker at Georgian Home Realty in the Atlanta market. “Also, if it looks great, it will sell faster.”

Experts say to start tackling yard cleanup at least a couple of months before showing your house.

“The longer you can pay attention to it, the more it shows,” Crocker says.

Whether you have a green thumb or not, here are nine easy tips to help spruce up your yard:

1. Prune Trees and Bushes.

If trees and bushes block the view of your house, that’s a problem.

“Sometimes people plant a bush and it grows straight up, and suddenly it looks like a tree, and it’s covering the windows,” Greene said. “Well, you just cut out the daylight and daylight is what most people want in their homes.”

And nothing should be hanging over the house. “If there are any such hanging tree branches, it’s up to the seller to take them down,” Crocker said.

Don’t forget, when a tree is scraping on the roof, you’re shortening the lifetime of your roof, Greene added.

2. Make Sure Trees Are Healthy.

Weak, damaged or old trees near the house can be dangerous and should be removed. Contact a professional tree service to get it done. If you are tempted to do this project on your own, just don’t.

3. Less is More.

“I tell people less is more so cut back everything,” Crocker says. “We don’t need the world’s biggest shrubs. You don’t want have flowers overflowing into the walkways. Sometimes if you leave the yard an empty canvas, then the buyer can say, ‘Oh, I’d like to plant flowers here.’ Instead of, ‘Oh, wow look at all of that we have to take care of!”

4. A Well-Manicured Lawn Stands Out.

Make sure you mow, trim, fertilize and water the lawn. Also, fix lawn issues, which may mean re-sodding bare spots.

Hire a lawn service, Greene suggests. “Be candid that you need a quick fix. You need a green lawn.”

“The more manicured your lawn, the better,” Crocker added.

5. Clean Up Your Garden.

Start by pulling weeds, replacing dead plants.

You could also “plant some perennials, which last all summer and take a lot less maintenance including watering,” suggested RJ Lamb, owner of Lambs Lawn Service & Landscaping in Floyds Knobs, IN. He suggests butterfly bushes or daylilies.

6. Don’t Skimp on Mulch.

Mulch is a cheap, easy way to spruce up your yard.

Applying a fresh layer in garden beds offers a contrast to plants and helps make everything “pop.”

 7. Create a Mood.

Use potted flowers, hanging plants or window flower boxes for quick, easy color.

“Put some plants by the door,” Crocker says. “Something that makes it look pleasing and homey and a place where you want to live.”

“We want people to feel like they’re welcome,” Greene agreed. “It really is about the ambience you create. Not everyone has a green thumb, but there’s so much we can do today. I like color, but you can also do succulents and greens, so it creates some interest and detail.”

8. Add Lighting.

Well lit walkways and porches are a big plus.

“Solar lights around your plantings really help it take on a different appearance at nighttime,” Greene said.

Lighting is also attractive along the driveway and sidewalks and improves nighttime visibility.

9. Hire a Pro.

“I absolutely encourage clients to hire a professional,” Crocker says. “They will come in and do a general cleanup. It’s worth the several hundred dollars to spend an afternoon in your yard.”

On average, a landscaper charges $45 to $75 per hour; it can vary by job and market.

“We come out and do a general maintenance, trim all the bushes, trim overhanging tree branches, re-mulch and get the weeds out, so it looks more presentable,” Lamb said. “You don’t want to appear that there’s a lack of maintenance. If [potential buyers] don’t like it when they pull up in front of the house, they’re going to keep going.”

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Liz Wolf