Landscaping: Affordable and Become the Envy of the Neighborhood

Love at first sight is what draws you to the target. But it doesn’t have to be about romance. In this case, it’s about attractive curb appeal for your McHenry County area home. Want to be the envy of the neighborhood? Consider five simple and affordable landscaping options that will turn your neighbors green with envy. 

Before you move to the yard, look at your front door. Solid colors are in style these days. Black doors may increase the home’s value by $6,000. For a gallon of paint, you can add a visual that spices up the home’s curb appeal.

The Lawn

Mowing, trimming, edging, fertilizing, and weeding are a must! If you don’t keep the yard in good shape, it makes the rest of your property look shabby. Hardy cool-season grasses are perfect for Illinois because they can survive freezing temperatures. The best grass types for McHenry County and the Chicago area are Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, tall and fine fescues. Mixed blends of these grass seeds keep the lawn from being damaged by disease and severe drought. Overseed or plant new grass seed between mid-August and the first of October. Mow the lawn in a different direction each time. This prevents the grass blades from leaning to one side.

Edging the lawn with decorative molding or medium-sized rocks against the driveway gives your home a manicured look. Power-wash the drive and walkways to clean off dirt and grime.


Flowers, trees, shrubbery, and ornamental grasses attract honeybees, butterflies, birds, and natural wildlife. Visit your favorite garden store for rose bushes, perennial flowers such as tulips, and a few flowering trees. Flowers are always an eye-catcher. Grow some native blooms such as coneflowers, New England aster, butterfly weeds, elderberry, columbine, phlox, and hydrangea. 

A flower garden bordering your home blends in with the landscaping. Hardscape with rocks, boulders, ceramic or cement tiles, and planters. Don’t feel like removing the turf? Hanging plant baskets and container plants add color to the front porch.

Outdoor Amenities

Enjoy your home’s outdoor setting all year long. Entertain your friends and neighbors with a patio kitchen or barbecue island. A pergola outfitted with swinging chairs not only looks trendy, but lets you enjoy the backyard on all but the hottest days. A fireplace or portable fire pit is great for those cooler evenings. Adding outdoor features to your landscaping will increase your home’s sales ability, and make the yard more enjoyable for you and your family. Keep in mind: You will need a permit from the City of McHenry to make any structural changes. Discuss options with a contractor to determine what best fits your budget.

Sparkling Water and Fencing

Outdoor fountains, small ponds, waterfalls, layered and colored rocks, and sculptures dress up the back and side yards. An elaborate pond may be a bit costly but check online for a small water fountain that can add some pizzazz to your yard.

Whenever you place a pool or water structure in the yard, it’s a good idea to fence off the property. Again, you’ll need a permit to install a fence. Wood, iron, iron, steel, glass blocks — the design opportunities are endless!


Solar light sticks and spotlights turn your backyard into a colorful oasis. LED lights are available in many hues that blend into the colors of your garden and trees. Hang a string of lights over a patio umbrella, pergola, and around the deck. LED bulbs use less energy than standard bulbs, and today’s stylish light fixtures are an excellent way to update the home’s perimeter. 

Even the most avid DIYer knows when it’s best to hire a professional for the bigger landscaping tasks, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your hands dirty. Start simple and go from there.

Angelina Schmidt is a writer and home designer who blends the best of the old and the new into her designs.

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City Feature: McHenry, Illinois

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