If you are thinking of selling your home and want to make a good first impression, or you simply want to improve ‘kerb appeal’ for your own pride, then making the front of your house more attractive is an obvious step to take.

The basics are pretty self-explanatory – have a good tidy-up, give tired woodwork a lick of paint and do any necessary repairs, especially to the walls, roof, windows and front door.

The other area to focus on is the front garden, which can make an enormous difference to the overall appearance and appeal of your home.

This time of year is ideal for brightening up the garden, using window boxes, hanging baskets, troughs and tubs planted with colourful bedding plants.

To define the entrance, especially if there could be confusion about which door is the front door, strategically place topiary bushes or tall shrubs in nice pots to guide people to the right door.

Hedges provide privacy if your home is close to the pavement, but can make the front room dark, so be careful to strike the right balance.

If you don’t want the hassle of maintaining a front lawn, or you don’t have room for one, stick to low-maintenance options like gravel, pebbles or slate chips, all of which can be used to quickly cover eyesores like concrete and crazy paving.

A more expensive, but elegant, option is block paving, paving slabs, or slate or (frost-resistant) ceramic tiles, which are easy to maintain because they can be hosed down.

Mix in some flowerbeds and you should have a smart, easy-to-maintain front garden that’s the best of both worlds.

In some locations, especially urban ones where parking is in short supply, off-street parking in your front garden can be a valuable addition to your home.

That said, creating off-street parking won’t necessarily be cheap, and you may need planning permission – go to planningportal.gov.uk for general advice, and also check with the local council before going ahead in case your proposal is an exception to the rules.

In some cases, you’ll need planning for both the parking and a dropped kerb, which are separate applications and usually dealt with by different council departments.

Also, while off-street parking often adds value, it isn’t very environmentally friendly. Plants have lots of benefits, including encouraging wildlife, and natural surfaces like grass and soil allow water to drain away quickly, helping to prevent flooding.

At the very least, choose a permeable hard surface for your front garden. Using a permeable surface, such as gravel, permeable block paving, or porous asphalt, may, in any case, exempt you from having to apply for planning for off-street parking.

Whatever you go for, your front garden should be in keeping with your home’s exterior – an ultra-modern design probably won’t suit a country cottage, for example. It should also suit your lifestyle, as you don’t want a garden that requires more time and energy than you can devote to it, however good it looks.