Yes, it’s possible to protect your foundation with landscaping done correctly!
Landscape design can add a personal, inviting touch to your home’s exterior. However, it can also cause unwanted damage to your foundation if done incorrectly. Check out these landscaping tips to protect your foundation while keeping your yard beautiful!
How to protect your foundation using landscaping
Landscape the entire perimeter of your home
Many people choose only to landscape their front yard because that’s what people see first and most often. However, if you’ve landscaped only one side of your yard, that side will likely receive more water than the other sides. This can cause the ground on the landscaped side of your home to swell, producing an imbalance in the soil and foundation.
Add mulch to flower beds
Mulch acts like a sponge and will retain water during excessive heat. Dry soil contracts, or shrinks, causing gaps in foundations, cracks in walls, and potential flooding when it rains. Adding mulch to your landscaping will create a storage area for water and keep the soil beneath it from becoming too dry.
Slope landscaping away from the foundation
Gardens and other landscape features should sit on a slope that leads downward and away from the house so that water will not drain toward your foundation. The rule of thumb is that the ground should slope 6 inches downward for every ten horizontal feet from your foundation.
Don’t plant trees too close to your house
Plant small trees 8 to 10 feet away from your home. Some experts even recommend planting trees a minimum of 20 feet away from your foundation to be safe (especially for larger trees). Trees can use more than 100 gallons of groundwater per day, which can cause the soil around your home to shrink if the tree is too close. If you already have trees planted near your home, make sure you water them generously and often.
Clean gutters and downspouts at least twice a year
This is important to ensure that water is efficiently transported away from your home. If gutters or downspouts become clogged, water can pool around the foundation of your home, causing damage to both your landscaping and foundation.
For more information see How Does A Drain Tile System Work?
Common home foundation problems
Every homeowner should know these common signs of home foundation problems. If you see any of the following – or anything else that seems suspicious – contact a foundation repair specialist right away for an inspection:
- Problems opening and closing windows and doors. If you’re having trouble with just one door or window, it’s probably not a foundation problem. However, a problem with multiple doors or windows is a cause for concern.
- Unlevel floors. If you toss something round on the floor, does it roll toward a specific area?
- Cracked floors. Watch out especially for wall-to-wall cracks. A crack limited to only one or two tiles probably happened when something fell on the floor.
- Ceilings and floors that have separated from the wall. Even slight separations could indicate a foundation problem.
- Bowed walls. Basement walls can bow inward and even crack when hydrostatic pressure in the soil starts pushing against the wall.
- Cracked walls. Vertical, hairline cracks in a poured concrete foundation wall were probably caused by shrinkage during the concrete curing process. However, larger cracks are usually a sign of a foundation problem.
- Torn wallpaper. Perhaps the wall behind the wallpaper is cracked.
- Wall rotation. This happens when the ground is saturated with water that can’t drain off. The outside edge of the foundation wall sinks into the ground, while the inside edge pulls up because it’s sitting on dry soil. This causes the wall to rotate.
- Diagonal cracks from the corners of doors or windows up toward the ceiling. If these are hairline cracks, they might not indicate foundation trouble. However, larger cracks should be checked out.
- Moldings that are no longer in contact with the wall or ceiling. Even slight separations are a cause for concern.
- Stair step cracks in brickwork or masonry. This is a sign a foundation has settled unevenly into the soil.
- Chimneys or porches that are starting to separate from the house. While it might be a problem with the foundation under the chimney or porch, it could also be a sign there’s a problem with the home’s foundation.
You can protect your foundation by correctly planting trees, flowers, and shrubs. If you’ve already made some landscaping mistakes that have caused foundation problems, don’t worry. Most foundation problems can be fixed. Call the experts at Epp for a free diagnosis and estimate today!