If you’re selling a house — especially in a soft real estate market — or if your parents are coming for a visit and you need to spruce up in a hurry, here are the five fastest ways to make an impact:

1.  Inventory your perennials and regroup wherever possible.  Mass plantings add drama and make a great first impression.

2.  Elevate the canopy of leggy, overgrown ornamental shrubs by removing the lower limbs.  The exposed branches are often wonderfully gnarled and knotted, and the garden takes on an open, airy feel that adds grace and fluidity.

3.  Connect planting beds ~ visually or physically ~ and remove elements that make the space seem choppy.  A unified visual field looks larger and more substantial.

4.  Prune shrubs, particularly those that crowd pathways and windows.  Older landscapes often dwarf their houses; righting the imbalance will make the house “read” bigger and brighter.

5.  Put a clean edge on the gardens and walkways, and cut mulch circles around the trees.  Good grooming isn’t just for you ~ it makes the property look polished, too.

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