As you’re drawing up your plans to landscape your yard, you’ll need to consider what kind of an impact your plants of choice can have on your foundation.
Your Foundation and Landscaping: Finding Your Balance
Your foundation is more sensitive to the movements of different plants’ root systems than you might imagine. As those roots settle in, they can expose your structural supports to unnecessary hydrostatic pressure. That pressure can cause your home to leak or otherwise suffer damage.
You can, however, marry your landscaping dreams with your foundation’s need for protection. The best ways to do so include:
- Sloping your beds – Your lawn is already negatively or positively graded. As you build up your beds for landscaping, you’ll need to determine what kind of grade you have around your home and how best you can use that grade to protect your foundation. Consider this: a negative grade slopes your lawn toward your home, putting it at a lower point in your yard. This means water will run down a negative grade and straight into your foundation, where it can build up hydrostatic pressure and stress your supports. Comparatively, positive grades keep water away from your home. You can create an artificial positive grade with your landscaping beds and use that – as well as some pointedly planted, water-absorbent foliage – to keep your foundation dry.
- Establishing distance – You’ll also want to try and keep some distance between your new landscaping and your foundation. Larger trees need to be at least 20 feet away from the perimeter of your home, if not more. Smaller plants and hedges need to be at least five feet away from your home, as measured by their longest growths.
- Watering your soil – You might think that by watering the soil around your home, you’re exposing your foundation to more hydrostatic pressure. This isn’t actually the case. When you actively keep your soil watered and healthy, you prevent the soil particles from shrinking. This way, they can continue to absorb a reasonable amount of water when it rains in your area. Without that bulk, these soil particles will do more than let water reach your foundation. They’ll also cause space to appear beneath your home. Your foundation will be able to sink into that space, resulting in unwanted settling, uneven floors, and other structural strains.
- Mulching your beds – Mulch can help you keep the soil around your home healthy. Ultra-absorbent mulch will both ensure your plants receive the water they need and your soil doesn’t dry out during long dry spells. Mulch can also hold onto excess rain, if necessary, and keep it away from your foundation.
- Keeping your drainage holes clean – Your internal and external drainage systems are only as effective as the drains themselves. This means you’re going to need to keep your drains clean if you want them to continue removing water from your home. You can prevent your drains from clogging with regular maintenance. Alternatively, you can install drain curtains that blend in with your landscaping to keep larger obstacles from stopping your flow.
While all these tricks will help lessen the amount of stress your foundation has to endure, they don’t substitute for home waterproofing measures. You can reach out to a professional foundation and basement repair professional in the Kansas City, MO, area to learn more about what waterproofing methods and foundation repair options will pair best with your foundation’s needs.
What to Avoid Planting Near Your Home
Some plants and trees are more invasive than others. While you can still integrate these plants into your landscaping plans, it’s often best to keep them far away from the perimeter of your home.
With that in mind, what plants should you avoid? The trees, hedges, and other foliage with the most aggressive root systems include:
- Hybrid poplars
- Bradford pears
- Chinese flame trees
- American elms
- Eastern cottonwoods
- Silver maples
- Mimosa trees
- Southern magnolias
- Sweet gum trees
What to Do When Dealing with Invasive Landscaping If you’re moving into a home with pre-planted landscaping, or you planted without considering your foundation, don’t worry. You can still work to protect your home from aggressive root systems or poor landscaping. The easiest way to do so is to invest in individualized waterproofing measures. You can talk to a local professional about which measures may suit your home best. After a home inspection, take advantage of a free quote on installations and repairs to determine what you want to invest in.