Curb Appeal Tips & Tricks by Melissa Gerstle

Photo by Christina Dandar for The Potted Boxwood

Christmas Decor by Melissa Gerstle

While curb appeal is important on a home year round, the holidays tend to shine a light (literally) on all the elements that make your house standout. Trust me, I have plenty of opinions on what makes a home “potted boxwood worthy” and curb appeal is a huge factor.  Recently, I have been taking pictures of homes with the ultimate holiday curb appeal. Funny enough, several of those homes had landscape design and holiday decor by Melissa Gerstle.

Melissa runs a successful landscape design and holiday landscape decor company in Dallas. She is talented beyond measure. We are lucky enough to have her share some of her tips and tricks on what can make a home standout- not just for the holidays, but year round!

all photos by Christina Dandar for The Potted Boxwood. If it is the work of Melissa Gerstle, it is noted under the photo. 

Melissa Gerstle:

First and foremost – I believe rules were meant to be broken, so I would suggest that these are guidelines and not etched in stone.  That said, here we go:



 The rule of thirds always helps with proportion at a door front – planter height + tallest plant should equal 1/2 to 2/3 of the height of the door frame .


Place identical containers of equal number on each side of a door frame and match the sides with the same plants and containers  – even numbers in this case 1 and 1, 2 and 2 or 3 and 3
If you like asymmetry – try to stick to odd numbers
With one stand alone planter or a group of 3
Melissa Gerstle


Should be wider than the door – at least the width of the outer edges of the door frame – usually 5-6 feet wide, depending on the scale of the home
If breaking up a walkway into stepping stones or pads – be sure to make them generous enough to accommodate a natural walking stride so that no one has to think about stepping over a crack.  Typical gaits are about 26”-27” inches apart

Photo by Christina Dandar for The Potted Boxwood

Halloween Decor by Melissa Gerstle


Outside – steps should be deep and shorter than interior stairs.  No more than 6 in for a riser and preferably 4-5-1/2’” tall.   The tread depth of an outdoor step should be at least 14” but preferably 16-18”. The formula for this is 2 times the riser plus the tread depth should equal 26-27”.  So a 4” riser should have a depth of 18-19”

Photo by Christina Dandar for The Potted Boxwood



  • try to tell a story.  Pick a theme that resonates with you and and add a color story to it.

Photo by Christina Dandar for The Potted Boxwood

  • Get creative – it doesn’t have to be Santa and reindeer but if you incorporate traditional elements, try to play on it with a twist or use the elements in unique ways.

photo by Christina Dandar for The Potted Boxwood

  • colors can be fun – red and green is fine, but a less traditional route could be pink and lime  Or a completely different palette like pastels or different shades of the same color for an ombré effect.


  •  when working outside, it’s most important to focus on the impact of an area rather than covering the entire space.  Everything looks smaller outside, so make sure the elements are large enough to be seen and well illuminated at night and group elements together for the greatest impact instead of spreading a lot of small things across the yard.  It’s better to have one spectacularly lit tree than a few measly lights on a lot of trees.