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AM Wall Anchor & Water Proofing Resource Article:

Foundation Planting: Landscaping Tips to Protect Your House

When you want to protect your basement and bolster your foundation’s waterproofing, foundation planting helps make your landscaping work for you. Foundation landscaping uses the design of your yard to help prevent seepage and prevent the conditions that increase your risk of cracks and flooding. This goes beyond just picking up a couple of foundation plants to mindfully designing your landscaping to help stop water infiltration before it starts.

Managing Moisture

When it comes to protecting your basement, foundation planting is all about managing the moisture that’s in the soil directly around your home. Plants can do more than just give the outside of your home more eye appeal. Properly designed foundation landscaping improves drainage, maintains a more favorable moisture content in the soil, and helps set these improvements, so they’re more resistant to change from the elements. Planting the right plants in the right places around your home is a smart landscaping decision that can help you save money in the long run.

Why Landscaping Can Make A Difference

When the land your home was built on was excavated, a large area of dirt was displaced for your foundation or basement. Once in place, the soil was backfilled to eliminate voids to the best of your contractor’s ability, and the ground above the surface was graded and prepared to direct water away from your home, so it doesn’t pool or damage your foundation. As time goes on, however, the condition of the land under and around your home can change.

Soil shifts, swelling and contracting as seasons cycle through higher and lower temperatures, drier and wetter stretches, and other environmental factors. In addition, damage can occur from improper rain runoff, erosion, and unplanned side-effects of other property modifications, such as the addition of a pool, heat pump ground loop, or stand-alone storm shelter. Foundation plants help make the soil more resistant to these factors in several ways.

  • Protect The Moisture Equilibrium – Proper foundation landscaping helps absorb excess water during extremely wet conditions while also returning it to the soil during droughts and heat waves.
  • Prevent Erosion – The roots you place when foundation planting help keep the soil in place and protect it from being easily uprooted and carried away by wind and water.
  • Improves Drainage – By stabilizing the soil, proper grading that directs water away from the home is maintained and irregular settling that creates pooling is minimalized.

The Top Foundation Landscaping Tips

Landscaped yard of a residential home

Every property is unique. Homes are built at different times, the land underneath can have a variety of conditions, contractors may choose different construction methods, materials, and perform to different standards of quality, and after all that, the residents put their homes through both use and abuse over the years that is centered around their individual lives. The results can mean two different properties have very different foundation protection needs. There are some basic landscaping principles you can use, however, that make a good choice for almost every property and foundation type we’ve seen.

Make The Grade

Proper grading slopes down and away from your home. This helps ensure water, whether rain or roof runoff, moves away from the home. Your first step to mindful foundation planting is to prepare the ground around your home by creating the proper grade. Your land should drop one inch for every foot you move away from your home. This should continue for five to ten feet. A good rule of thumb is that your grade should allow for at least a consistent six-inch drop in the first ten feet.

Mind The Gap

Foundation planting around your home gives you protection, but you don’t want anything too close to your home. Allow for space directly around the foundation for better airflow and to avoid too much moisture collecting against the building. Likewise, you’ll want to make sure you don’t completely cover your foundation. Several inches should be left exposed above the ground to give better drainage around the structure.

Take Trees Away And Control The Creepers

Not all plants are foundation savers. Some can damage your home, cracking and weakening the concrete, cement, brickwork, and wood your home is made of. Small trees should be placed no closer than 15 feet away from your home, and those that tend to grow taller, with larger and deeper roots, should be closer to 20 feet away. Plants that have climbing vines that cling to surfaces would also be kept away, and the small feelers can easily damage your home above the ground, introducing weaknesses that increase the likelihood of moisture infiltrating your home’s support structures and eventually the foundation itself. 

Bountiful Bushes And Friendly Flowers

Front yard of a home with many bushes and flowers

Plants that use smaller, more centrally located root systems are perfect for planting near your home’s foundation. That makes bushes and flowers a favorite. Look for varieties that are hardy and grow well in your region. Pay close attention to their spacing requirements, as these will not only guide you to ensuring their maximum beauty but also provide a guide to foundation planting that helps them thrive. Following these guidelines gives them plenty of room to spread their roots for soil stabilization and lets you ensure they aren’t going to grow into an area that threatens drainage or your foundation.

Thank You Very Mulch

Adding mulch to your foundation landscaping is the perfect way to help moderate your soil’s moisture content and protect your foundation plants. Mulch helps prevent evaporation of the moisture in the soil your plants need to thrive while also storing excess moisture away. While the water in the mulch itself will eventually evaporate from the top layer, lower layers of mulch remain protected. While you should still keep an eye on moisture levels to ensure the bed neither dries out nor floods next to your foundation, a good layer of mulch helps stabilize the entire plant bed to minimize the risk of damage to your home and the effort you need to put into maintaining your foundation planting.

Spread The Love

A common landscaping mistake is to confine your foundation plants to only the front of the house or your backyard sitting area. Your foundation needs protection all the way around. Spot-planting leaves areas unprotected, which increases the risk of damage not just in the bare spots, but as a whole. The foundation will be subjected to uneven pressures from the surrounding soil, which could end up exacerbating the hazards it faces. While it’s not uncommon to use non-aesthetic or low-maintenance plant choices in areas hidden away from public sight, foundation landscaping is just as important for complete protection.

Proper Planning Goes Beyond Planting

If you want to extend and maintain the health of your foundation, it takes more than just proper landscaping. Even foundation planting will not fully stop the wear on your basement from time and mother nature. Professional waterproofing helps keep your foundation healthy, protecting your home, personal belongings, and loved ones. You can take the first step toward waterproofing your basement for free. 
When you request a free home inspection, one of our professional foundation experts will schedule a visit to assess the risks facing your property, identify existing damage, and tailor a plan to prevent future foundation damage from robbing you of the security that comes with a strong, healthy foundation. We’ve helped hundreds of property owners repair, restore, and protect their basements, building our reputation for honest customer service one saved home at a time. Call to schedule your free visit from AM Wall Anchor & Waterproofing today.

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