When most homeowners think about the health of their foundation, they think about things like flooding or pest or mold infestations. Rarely will they consider the landscaping in their yard. However, believe it or not, the sorts of trees and shrubbery you plant in your yard can have a huge impact on your foundation.
A thoughtful homeowner plans his or her landscaping with the stability of the home’s foundation in mind. We put together this guide to help you understand which necessary steps to take to prevent costly foundation repair. Read on to find out more.
How to Find Your Balance in Landscaping
It’s not hard to let your imagination loose when daydreaming about the landscaping of your future or current home. However, it is important to take into consideration how your yard’s landscaping could potentially impact your home’s foundation, leading to expensive foundation repairs.
There are a few tips that can help you ensure the safety of your foundation and your wallet will thank you for following them. When planning your next landscaping project, keep the following in mind.
Whether your yard slopes toward or away from your home and foundation can make a lot of difference. This is to do with the hydrostatic pressure that your foundation could experience. Hydrostatic pressure is the force of water that pools up around your foundation and will exert on your home. This pressure can compromise the structural integrity of your home and lead to cracks, flooding, increased levels of moisture, and dangerous mold and pest infestations. Needless to say, your next foundation project needs to keep the grading of your property in mind.
As a rule of thumb, stay away from raised garden beds positioned directly against your home. These beds can soak up incredible amounts of water that they will then direct against your foundation.
Some very beautiful trees have extensive and powerful root systems that could destabilize your foundation. Before you plant any trees, speak with a professional about the proper distancing you will need to ensure their future root systems won’t cause problems for your foundation. As a rule of thumb, you want to leave at least five feet of space between your home and the longest leaves of any shrubbery you want to introduce to your garden. Trees, on the other hand, need considerably more space. The average tree will need to be planted at least 20 feet away from your home. To be safe, it’s always better to give trees more room to grow. The last thing you want is to have to cut down a beautiful tree in a decade because its roots are creeping up on your home.
Watering your soil properly can make a big difference. While you do not want to overdo it, you should be watering any plants you have right up against your home at least once a week. Although some parts of the country experience extensive droughts, that is not so much the case in Grand Rapids, MI. In places where droughts are prevalent and it may not rain for years, homeowners do have to ensure that the plants in their yard do not dry out the soil that’s up against their foundations too much. If the soil around your foundation dries up completely, it can start to shrink and crack, becoming potentially hazardous for your foundation, which could shift into the voids left by the soil. Like we already mentioned, this is not so much a problem in Grand Rapids, MI, but it is something to keep in mind.
Mulch is surprisingly beneficial for your home and foundation. Although we think of it mostly as an aesthetic element to landscaping, it actually protects your plants and soil. This is because it helps your soil stay moist and not lose water too quickly. At the same time, it also absorbs excess rain, keeping it away from your home’s foundation. This is great for homes in Grand Rapids, MI. Mulch helps you use less water, protects your foundation, and keeps your plants healthy and well-watered.
Some homeowners opt to have a drainage system installed either in their basement or around the perimeter of their home. When you’re dreaming up your perfect landscaping solutions, take into consideration how it will impact your drainage system. Keeping your drains clean is a top priority and will have a huge impact on the health of your foundation and home overall. The best way to ensure your exterior drains are clean is to install drainage curtains. Alternatively, you will have to clean your drains at least once a week. The choice you end up making depends on a variety of factors, but whatever happens, keep drainage top of mind to ensure the health of your home.
Choose the Right Plants
As you can imagine, not all species of plants or shrubbery are a great choice for planting near the perimeter of your home. You want to avoid planting these aggressive species at all costs:
- Hybrid poplars
- Bradford pears
- Chinese flame trees
- American elms
- Eastern cottonwoods
- Silver maples
- Mimosa trees
- Southern magnolias
- Sweet gum trees
We have thrown a lot of information at you at this point. However, if you’re going to take one thing away from this post, let it be this: No amount of landscaping precautions can make up for an improperly waterproofed basement or crawl space. If the below-grade areas of your home have not been waterproofed yet, get in touch with a specialist as soon as possible. At FSM, we have helped countless homeowners keep their homes safe and dry. Sign up for a free estimate right now.