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AM Wall Anchor & Water Proofing Blog Article:

5 Landscaping Tips to Protect Your Foundation

The front of a residential home surrounded by trees

Foundation landscaping is key when you want to keep your basement dry and protected. Planning your planting near the foundation can help with drainage, prevent erosion, and make your property look even better. As your Western Pennsylvania basement waterproofing experts, we’ve seen the damage that can happen when homeowners neglect their landscaping or fail to plan for its future growth. While we’re always ready to help our customers with foundation repair, proactively protecting your property with a well-thought-out foundation landscaping and drainage plan can save your home and your bank account.

More than Just Your Flower Garden

Planting may get the lion’s share of attention in landscaping, but foundation protection starts before you even start picking out seeds, bulbs, or cuttings. Landscaping refers to the changes you make to sculpt the land around your home, alter its design, add ornamental structures, or plant decorative and functional flowers and topiaries. For new construction, foundation landscaping should be an important part of the process, but few homeowners or potential homeowners think about how changes over time can have a dramatic impact on their basement’s long-term health.

Landscaping to Protect Your Foundation

lush landscaping with elevation and rock features at a home

When you start foundation landscaping, it’s important to work with a plan based on where your property is versus where you want it to be. Almost all properties can be improved, regardless of their current condition. Here are a few tips to help you evaluate your property and understand where there may be risks you need to address.

  1. Make the Grade

You always want the land directly around your foundation to slope downward as it moves away from the home. This helps direct water away from your foundation’s walls, whether precipitation or runoff. A good rule of thumb for foundation landscaping is that your land should drop six inches in the first ten feet. This can be easily measured with a two-foot level.

Place the level against your foundation where it meets the ground, ensuring it’s horizontal and level. Measure the distance from the far end of the level straight to the ground. Multiply that distance by five. Twelve inches is optimal for foundation landscaping, while anything less than ten inches should be concerning. 

Professional excavation services may be needed for severe grading issues. In most cases, regrading can be done in as little as a day, leaving freshly graded soil and grass already planted.

  1. Foundation Planting for Success

Foliage can be your secret weapon in protecting your foundation with landscaping. Plants capture water, storing it and using it to fuel their growth. Be aware, however, that anything you plant will grow roots. Flowers and shrubs should be kept at least a foot away from the home, while most trees should not be any closer than 20 feet away. Be aware of underground utilities, including your sewer and water lines. Many Philadelphia houses still have terra cotta sewer pipes, which are prone to collapsing and root infiltration.

Look for low-growing shrubs with roots that pose less danger to your home’s foundation, like boxwood, holly, or juniper. Smaller ornamental trees can be planted as close as two feet away with care, such as the Japanese Maple, which has a more delicate root system. Annuals and perennials can add a pop of color, but make sure not to cover your foundation completely, as it can prevent airflow. 

  1. Keep Your Soil Hydrated

When soil dries out, the substrate contracts and leaves voids waiting to be filled. Unfortunately, when water does come, the soil may not be able to absorb it fast enough, or the underground drainage may be disrupted. Either of these can lead to flooded basements and foundation damage that requires professional foundation repair. Properly hydrating but not oversaturating soil is good foundation landscaping maintenance.

Watering the area around your foundation avoids the creation of voids and keeps current drainage channels open. It also keeps your foundation planting healthy and thriving. You should also mulch the area around your foundation to help regulate its moisture, limiting evaporation and erosion.

  1. Maintain Your Gutters and Downspouts
Man wearing a reflective vest and gloves while cleaning out residential rain gutters

Management of runoff keeps your foundation landscaping healthy, which keeps your property healthy. Gutters and downspouts gather precipitation from your roof and transport it to the ground, where it can enter your yard’s drainage. This prevents water simply falling directly off the roof onto your foundation-adjacent landscaping and becoming trapped against your basement walls. 

Make sure your gutters and downspouts are cleaned and maintained to avoid dams, blockages, and overflows. Downspout extenders can move large amounts of runoff further away from your foundation walls for natural drainage or even introduce it into French drains or swales. This helps further regulate the moisture in the soil around your home and avoids damage from runoff to any foundation planting you’ve done.  

  1. Install Better Yard Drainage Systems

Active drainage, like water collection basins, swales, or French drains, can be designed into your foundation landscaping to supplement natural drainage. By collecting excess moisture and helping it move freely away from your home’s foundation, you’re preventing a buildup of extreme hydrostatic pressure that can force water through cracks in your foundation, bow the walls, or otherwise damage your basement or crawlspace.

Professional drainage installation can be performed in conjunction with regrading or separately. This drainage is designed to work with your foundation landscaping to ensure water is channeled into the system where it can be moved away. Your contractor will work to minimize the effects of installation on the appearance of your yard, and after the new drains are installed, grass will be planted to make your yard look beautiful again as soon as possible.

Get Your Free Foundation Landscaping Inspection

There’s no cost or obligation to schedule a visit with a professional who can inspect your basement’s current waterproofing, including the foundation landscaping. They’ll look for signs of damage, risk factors that could be putting your home in jeopardy, and opportunities to add foundation planting that protects and beautifies your property. Then, you’ll get a written estimate that lays out your home protection options.

Make sure your foundation landscaping isn’t putting your home at risk. Contact A.M. Wall Anchor and Waterproofing today.

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