Nowadays, you can find a wide variety of landscaping ideas and tips to transform your property into a breathtaking retreat that looks just like the ones from the Home and Garden TV shows. But regardless of your landscape needs and wants, or the plants, shrubs, and trees you wish to plant, one thing you should remember is that proper landscaping can do much more than just improve the appearance and overall value of your property. In a nutshell, proper landscaping can help you prevent foundation damage and extend the lifespan of your Houston home. Here are a few tips and tricks on how to plan and maintain your landscape for a healthier foundation.
Don’t Plant Trees and Shrubs too Close to Your Home
Because plants can enhance the exterior of any home, planting right next to houses is a very popular landscape design idea. On the downside, specific plants, trees, and shrubs could cause damage to the foundation, plumbing and sewer lines when they’re located too close to the house. To prevent specific problems from occurring, specialists recommend planting trees and shrubs at least 8 feet away from homes. However, the only way to determine the safe distance between your home and the tree and shrub species you intend to plant is to know exactly how far their root systems extend from the trunk. Also, if you live in Houston or surrounding areas, make sure that you choose drought-resistant plants, trees, and shrubs, which can handle prolonged dry spells without requiring too much water. If existing trees and shrubs are located too close to your home, consider installing root barriers or relocating them to a safer distance.
Ensure There Is Proper Grading Around Your Home
Whether you’re planning to plant a new lawn or build flower beds close to your home, making sure the ground slopes away from your foundation is very important. Grading the soil to divert water runoff away from your home is known as positive drainage. By simply grading the ground around your home properly, you can prevent excess water from accumulating near your home and running into your foundation. In general, water that accumulates around and underneath a foundation can create high hydrostatic pressure, which may negatively impact the foundation and lead to significant damage over time. In addition to creating positive drainage when landscaping, you can prevent excess water from pooling around your foundation by ensuring that the drainage systems around your home, including gutters, downspouts, drainage pipes, and French drains, are functioning properly.
Keep Your Soil Moist Enough during Droughts
The cyclical pattern of droughts and floods that characterizes the Houston area could cause the soil around and underneath your foundation to expand and contract unevenly. This may lead to differential settlement and cracks in your foundation as well as walls, floors, and ceilings. One way to prevent foundation damage due to clay soil that expands and contracts in an uneven fashion is to water the soil around your foundation uniformly during droughts. To do that, place a soaker hose at least 18 inches away from the foundation, around the perimeter of your home.
Mulch Your Flower Beds
Acting as a protective covering that retains a lot of moisture, mulch prevents the ground around your home from becoming excessively dry and minimizes soil erosion. Therefore, mulching your flower beds around your home is beneficial to both your plants and your foundation particularly during the hot summer months. Additionally, using super absorbent mulch, such as hard-bark or straw mulch, can prevent large quantities of rainfall from reaching your foundation during rainy days. Because this type of mulch is able to retain large amounts of rainwater and then slowly release it into the ground, it can effectively protect your foundation from differential settlement and another type of damage, which typically occur when the ground absorbs a large quantity of water in a short period of time.
Leave the Top of Your Foundation Exposed
Although many homeowners opt for different creative ways to hide their exposed foundations, leaving your foundation visible will allow you to inspect it regularly and easily notice the first signs of foundation damage. If you still want to cover up your foundation, there are a few simple, yet stylish and eye-catching ways to do that, such as planting flower beds, painting it, or using polished pebbles to create a rock strip around your home.
Often overlooked, the foundation is one of the most important components of a home. Thus, keeping your foundation in mind when landscaping is an important part of maintaining the structural integrity of your home. For more information about how to protect your foundation from damage, feel free to browse our extensive collection of articles or contact our professionals who are here to answer any questions you might have!