In this picture, a home's warm lighting contrasts the stark winter surroundings.

When autumn creeps in in the South, most people have their minds on football, apple cider, and pumpkin-flavored everything. The last thing anyone wants to think about is winter.

As a homeowner, though, you shouldn’t wait around to prep for the cold months. The changing of seasons can wreak havoc on your home’s exterior appearance, and you don’t want to step outside one winter morning and realize your curb appeal blew away with the warm weather.

Improving your home’s winter curb appeal is simple, but it takes preparation. After all, winter is a whole different ball game from spring and summer, when lush trees and fresh flowers turn everything gorgeous.

Never fear; we’ve built hundreds of homes and know what it takes to make them look amazing in any season. Follow these steps on how to improve curb appeal, and you’ll end up with the best looking home on your block this winter.

Keep your lawn tidy and grass green in fall and winter

Snow and ice coat a thick layer of bright green grass

It’s easy to get swept up in the striking beauty of fall foliage in your yard. That’s no reason to get complacent, though. To neighbors and guests, a leaf-blanketed lawn looks unkempt.

But leaving your leaves around for too long can have lasting effects. Piles of damp leaves smother and kill your grass early, leaving your lawn cratered through fall and winter.

While the temperature is still tolerable, take a Saturday to prep your front yard for the cold season with the following steps:

  1. Clear dead leaves off your lawn. If you can reach, gently shake loose leaves from surrounding trees to save work later.
  2. Set your lawn mower by an inch lower than usual. Cut your lawn for the final time in November to cast out dead grass.
  3. Test your yard to see if it needs to be aerated. Try pushing a blunt object like a paint stirrer or match into the soil. If this takes effort, your soil is too compact and needs aeration.
  4. Overseed your yard with a hardy annual grass like rye or another cereal grass. In temperate Carolina winters, this will help your lawn fill out and eliminate patches.
  5. Feed your lawn with potassium-rich fertilizer to save it from a barren winter.

Plant winter bloomers or hardy annual flowers

Clusters of bright red berries on the lush blue holly make for interesting jabs of color in winter

Not all plants take a dive in cold weather. Change up your usual garden or flowerbed by planting shrubs that thrive and flower in winter months. Blue holly is a classic choice that bears beautiful red berries in winter. These plants are well suited for most climates and do well even in temperate zones 7-9 that cover most of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.

silver honeywort blooms deep purple leaves that look great through winter

For a less common option that still thrives in the South, look for honeywort. This Mediterranean plant blooms silvery blue droplets that make for unusual winter interests.

Invest in evergreens

arborvitae evergreens stay lush through winter. Here they are shown lining a small flowerbed

This is no secret, but evergreens are a staple for keeping homes looking great all year round. Fill you space out with tall evergreen shrubs like Arborvitae, which thrive in all climates. For a splash of color, plant barberry bushes, which come in shades from bright yellow-green to deep chartreuse.

Add a splash of color to your front door

this robins egg blue door shown here is lined with holiday wreaths and adds an icy flair to homes

Once autumn fades, so do its hues. Cold snaps rob holdout plants and trees of their last hints of verdure, then armies of rakes and trash bags come to remove any hint of color. That’s nature. You can’t control it.

Your front door, however, does not belong to nature. One of the easiest ways to boost your home’s curb appeal through winter is to give your front door a fresh coat of vibrant paint. If your area is lucky enough to catch a coat of snow this winter, your colorful door will lend your home a striking allure in contrast to winter’s muted tones.

Brightly colored doors are growing in popularity down south, especially in areas like Charlotte, so early birds should stake their claim on unique colors!

Clean up your exterior

Trees go leafless even in moderate winters. Barren branches reveal your home’s full façade, exposing any exterior areas you neglected through spring and summer.

Before it gets too cold, power-wash the outside of your house and ditch the summer grime. With little animal and insect activity in the winter, a single deep clean should hold your home over until spring.

Lighten up

front porch lights here make a winter home more inviting

In warm months, long, bright days and vibrant foliage create welcoming exteriors. Those luxuries disappear with cold weather and Daylight Savings. You can combat shorter days and improve curb appeal by adding a wealth of warm and interesting light fixtures.

Of course, holiday lights go a long way in brightening up a home’s exterior. For maximum winter curb appeal, keep your lights simple and classic.

Don’t overdo it on holiday décor

this shows a simple traditional set of holiday lights and holly on a brick house

It’s tempting to deck your front porch and yard with boughs and baubles when the holidays roll around, and you should! Festive decorations add celebratory curb appeal all season long.

Be careful not to overload your front façade with gaudy decorations, though (unless you’re looking to make the tacky light tour circuits). Maximizing curb appeal is all about universal allure. Overwhelming holiday displays are divisive in their charm.

Show us your curb appeal!

Chances are good that you’re already working to make sure your home stays beautiful in the coming months. We want to see your fall and winter style! Drop in on our Facebook fan pages and share curb appeal tips and pictures of your cold-ready homes.