Landscaping is a wonderful way to turn a home into something spectacular. When making landscaping choices, often, the only thing that is considered is how the yard will look afterward. While this may be an important thought in the beginning, it is important to consider how landscaping choices can impact the rest of your home. Landscaping is crucial to protecting the integrity of your foundation, and often, there is little to no awareness on how different landscaping choices can cause severe damage to a foundation. To shed some light on the issue, Allied has put together this guide on the 5 most common landscaping mistakes that can do damage to your foundation.
Poor elevation at a foundation level is a top cause of drainage problems. Drainage that is stuck around a home can have a dramatic impact on a home, and not in a good way! Drainage around a foundation is crucial to ensure that wood floors and drywall remain dry, and also that nothing bad happens to the foundation, or the crawl space. In order to promote foundational elevation, ensure that there is an appropriate grade around the home so that water flows away from the home and doesn’t sit there.
It is also good to keep large trees away from the home so that the house is free from any potential root related issues. Trees can also impact the soil, which, when combined with drainage issues, could wreak havoc on the foundation. It is also important to landscape every side of the foundation, not just the front yard. Many focus on the front yard because for the curb appeal, as that is what is seen the most, but in order to protect a foundation, it needs to be protected on every side.
Plant Bed Designs
Plant beds exist to make a home look nice, and they do! But much more goes into keeping plant beds maintained in the correct way. In order to have a plant bed and not have drainage issues, landscapers should ensure that, just like with the foundation, there is an accurate grade and site level to ensure that water from the flower beds is flowing down and away from the home. Another way to properly take care of plant beds is to mulch them! Mulch is a sponge - it soaks up water during excessive heat and stores it for the plants, keeping the soil from becoming too dry and negatively affecting the foundation. But, in times of too much water, it is great at redirecting excess water away from the home. Be sure to avoid edging the mulch and the flower bed to allow for appropriate water drainage.
Water traps are areas in a yard where there are depressions that are holding excess water. The excess water will kill grass and plants, but, also, create an unmanageable marsh if too much water sits there for too long. The best solution for these water traps is to create drainage spaces for the water to go into. These can either be some kind of created creek, or a swale. Swales are created drainage ditches that can be lined with plants, rocks, gravel, or draining soil to promote absorption of the water. These creeks or swales can be designed to have a nice aesthetic and add a nice appeal to the yard.
Paved surfaces are common in homes! Each home will likely have some kind of sidewalk, driveway, or walkway somewhere on the property. When these areas are designed, they should be designed to promote water runoff. If they aren’t, they are going to retain water in one area and break down the integrity of the concrete. If creating a decent grade is not possible, it is also possible to use retaining walls to redirect water where you need it to go. It is important that these redirects move water away from the foundation.
Gutter spouts can be a process to clean out and maintain, and many may think that it is too much of a bother - but it shouldn’t be. Gutters are vital to proper drainage on a home, redirecting water from the roof through the gutter system into downspouts. If these gutters are clogged, it will send the water over the gutter and onto the home, or allow it to puddle over the foundation. If the downspout is improperly located, it will allow for the water to be redirected too close to the home, and, again, put the foundation at risk.
If you are noticing gutter runoff staying directly around your home, be sure to go through and thoroughly clean the gutter system. If the downspout is pushing water out directly near your foundation, consider an extension for the gutter. An alternative to a gutter extension would be a rain barrel. Rain barrels collect the water from the downspout, and all of the collected rainwater can be repurposed for gardening.
Landscaping is a crucial part of house maintenance, but when done incorrectly, it can put your foundation in jeopardy! Be sure to focus on foundational elevation, ensuring that the land has appropriate places for run-off and drainage. Keep large trees away from the house, and landscape around every inch of the foundation, not just the front. Monitor plant bed designs and be sure to use mulch to help ensure moisture retainment. Create a creek bed or swale to promote proper drainage, and also keep this in mind when designing any paved surfaces or concrete structures. Check gutter spouts frequently, and clean them just as often to promote adequate water run-off where you want it to go. For any other questions, be sure to take a look into Allied’s blog, for more answers about landscaping, drainage, and foundational issues. For more information on foundation repair and free estimates, visit Allied’s page on foundation repair!