Proper landscaping around your house’s foundation can do much more than just provide aesthetic value. It can help add years to your home by protecting your house’s foundation. But improper landscaping can do the opposite.
Check out these landscaping tips to protect your foundation while keeping your yard looking attractive.
1. Grade your landscape the right way
Water is the number one enemy of a house’s foundation. As you tend your flower beds next to your house’s foundation, pay attention to the water runoff. Sloping your landscape properly will help keep your foundation safe.
Does water run away or towards your foundation? If it’s towards, then you need to have it fixed. When stormwater consistently collects near your home it can lead to foundation problems.
At Granite Foundation, we recommend that your landscape should be graded at least six inches downward for every ten horizontal feet from your foundation. To find your slope, run a tight string with a level from the high point to the low point. You’ll know how much slope you have by measuring from the ground at your low point all the way up to the string.
2. Position large trees away from your foundation
Foundations and tree roots don’t mix. Shrubs and trees offer a lot of benefits. For example, shade, natural beauty, and prevention of soil erosion. Sadly, trees with invasive root systems can be your foundation’s enemy.
When assessing the likelihood of a tree affecting your home’s foundation, you should consider a few things. One, the soil composition of your property. Two, the distance of the tree from your home’s foundation. And three, the species of tree.
We recommend planting the following trees. These won’t have a damaging effect on your foundation.
- Tree-form evergreen shrubs. For example cherry laurel, ligustrum, or wax myrtle. Keep them five feet away from your house.
- Low growing shrubs. For instance, holly, boxwood, yew, and juniper.
- Vining plants for ground covers like sweet woodruff, periwinkle, creeping juniper, ivy, and liriope.
- Small ornamental trees such as star magnolia, crepe myrtle, Japanese map, redbud, and dogwood.
Trees like American elm, willows, Norway maple, Silver Maple, poplars, cottonwoods, and Aspens are bad for your foundation. Avoid planting these trees. Also, avoid Black Locust and Black Alder. But what happens if you’ve already incorporated any of these trees in the landscaping around your house? Well, we know of several options available.
- Install a root barrier. Before installing one, consult a professional as it may damage or even kill the tree.
- Install an irrigation line. Again, hire professional help before installing one. An irrigation drip line helps minimize the impact by adding water to the area around the base of a tree’s trunk. Do this especially if trees on your property seem to dry the adjacent soil.
- Have the tree removed. If it’s a small or young tree, this may be the best course of action.
- Leave it. If there are no signs of damage, don’t touch it.
3. Improve your gutter system and extensions
Use gutter extensions to push water at least five feet away from your foundation. Runoff from gutters can quickly erode your slope. You can also install downspouts to carry water further out.
Also, make sure your gutters are clean. Remove tree sticks and dry leaves, and check for any holes, gap, or leaks while cleaning your gutters. This ensures that rainwater flows as it should and prevents overflows.
Rain barrels are another good option. They help collect gutter runoff. You can use the water collected in these barrels for gardening. You’ll not only help protect your foundation, you’ll also help lower your monthly utility bill and conserve water.
4. Landscape every side of your house foundation
A lot of people only landscape their front yard. Unfortunately, this can lead to foundation issues as the landscaped area is likely to receive more water than the other side.
The soil in the area that receives more water expands. When this happens, it pushes against the foundation causing damage.
To avoid soil expansion on one side, landscape every side next to your house foundation. Soil expansion can damage structures by cracking foundations, causing settlement and distorting structural elements.
5. Mulch your flower beds
Mulch acts like a sponge and will retain water during times of excessive heat. Exceedingly dry soil can harm your foundation by causing movement.
Mulching can help maintain the right amount of moisture. Besides protecting your foundation, mulching has other benefits. Mulch or natural wood chips can enrich the soil. It can also help direct excess water away from the area.
Don’t add edging around the mulch and flower bed though. Edging can stop water, thereby creating standing water and pools.
Another way to keep your soil’s moisture content balanced is by watering it. Even moisture and soil density should be relatively the same around the perimeter of your foundation.
6. Consider creating a swale
Swales are drainage ditches. Drainage swales are often the easiest drainage system to install and can help prevent your home’s foundation from getting damaged.
Consider the following essential elements for your swale:
- Add plants along the sloping bank. These will add to drainage and absorption efforts.
- You may also line the channel with perforated pipe, rocks, or gravel to help with absorption.
- Use quick draining soil to soak up the water as it flows through the channel.
- The sides of the ditch should flare out to extend 3-4 times the depth (like a channel)
7. Plan concrete structures carefully
Landscaping paths, patios, driveways and sidewalks made of concrete should be designed to direct water runoff away from your foundation. Stagnant water is bad for your home’s foundation.
Additionally, you should also balance these concrete structures carefully. Having heavily-watered garden beds on one side and placing a large expanse of concrete on the other can impact your foundation negatively.
Maintaining your home’s foundation is important if you want to keep your home. This’ll ensure that you don’t have structural issues that can not only be hazardous but also costly to fix in the future. Use these seven tips to protect your foundation with proper landscaping.