Curb appeal. We've all heard of it. We all know it's essential, whether due to standard maintenance, HOA requirements or added market value. But did you know a well-designed and well-landscaped yard can add as much as 20 percent to your home's worth?

This figure means the American Society of Landscape Architects recommendation that homeowners invest as much as 10 percent of the home's value in landscaping could pay off big, potentially doubling your return on investment.

A good landscaping job goes well beyond having a green lawn and a few planters of flowers. Think about adding structural elements like lighting, fencing, paths, fire pits, and pools to your design as well. Terraces and decks also have a high yield when it comes to a house's resale value.

We've compiled a list of a few ideas that will make your home stand out on the street, boost your curb appeal and increase your home's value.

1. Start With a Plan

One of the most significant pitfalls homeowners make is taking a hodgepodge approach to their landscaping. They clear and plant one section of the yard and start on a new project without ever having a comprehensive strategy. Beginning with a solid plan in place means your landscape will appear polished - instead of looking like a disorganized mess - while staying within a predetermined budget.

2. Invest in Low-Maintenance Landscaping

Let's face it - unless you're a master gardener, maintaining a yard full of living things feels like work. Most people don't want to care for an overly complicated landscape.

Extending your living space to the outdoors is a fantastic way to simplify your yard work. Lay a stone patio or build a deck with space for a grill, dining table and fire pit, and eliminate some of the lawn's grassy areas.

For an effortlessly beautiful landscape, plant some low-maintenance perennials that will come back year after year. Or plant native plants that will require less care than exotic species.

3. Build a Retaining Wall

A retaining wall is an excellent and attractive way to add value to your home. These walls are useful in creating terraced beds and additional yard space if you live on a steep grade. You can also use them to build raised beds and increase drainage for plants.

Best of all, you can install one yourself by following this step-by-step guide. Choose its location, pick your materials and get to work. You'll have an attractive wall you installed yourself in no time.

4. Plant a Tree (or Two)

Trees and shrubs are an inviting way to increase your home value. Plenty of low-maintenance and low-water options will look great without much maintenance. Trees and shrubs also provide privacy from your neighbors and can create shade that decreases your cooling costs during the hot summer months.

5. Install Outdoor Lighting

Take your landscape to a whole new level by installing outdoor lighting in your yard space. Light up your pathways to increase safety and highlight your home's best features all night long.

Landscape lighting comes in many forms to fit any budget. Hard-wired lights are bright and appealing and can keep your yard well-lit, providing extra security.

But if electric lights are not a good fit for your landscape or budget, consider placing solar-powered accent lights around specific features or next to pathways to give your yard a magical feel.

6. Keep Your Lawn Green

It may seem like a no-brainer, but keeping your lawn green will make your home look well cared for and polished. Reseed any brown or dying patches. Mow your lawn regularly, and be sure to trim and edge to keep the lines looking crisp and clean. Or add edging in the form of brick, stone or gravel.

Want to avoid that extra maintenance? AstroTurf has come a long way in the past few decades. Though a bit pricier to install than plain old grass, you'll never have to water or mow it again once it's in.

Get to Work!

You can do many things to add a bit of curb appeal and increase the value of your home. Spring is right around the corner, so now is the perfect time to craft and implement your landscaping plan in the coming months. Now that you know where to start, it's time to get your yard into shape.

Scott Huntington is a writer from central Pennsylvania. He enjoys working on his home and garden with his wife and 2 kids. Follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington