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Landscaping with Your Foundation in Mind

While invasive root systems can damage your foundation, there are some plants and landscaping elements that’ll naturally protect your home.

foundation problems from plants and roots

Nothing’s more exciting than drafting plans for your landscaping. You’ll need to be careful, though. Some plants and trees are large enough that they can damage your foundation. Others can form natural barriers between your foundation and run-off.

How do you go about finding the balance between the landscaping of your dreams and a safe foundation? If you employ a few tricks, you’ll find it’s easier than you might think.

Marrying Your Landscaping and Your Foundation Care

If you’re looking to protect your foundation from water damage, it’s often best to invest in waterproofing measures. However, there are steps you can take while landscaping that may better protect your home from hydrostatic pressure and root damage. These include:

  • Sloping your plots – The grading around your home directly influences whether water will flow toward your foundation or away from it. As such, you’ll need to make sure any plots you have around your home slope away from it to better ensure your foundation doesn’t come into contact with water from your gutters or heavy rain.
  • Establishing some distance – No matter what plants you choose to have around your home, you’re going to need to give their roots room to grow. This means leaving space between your landscaping and the perimeter of your home. Smaller plants only need to be kept five feet away from your home so as to keep their roots from disturbing the soil around your foundation. The larger your plants get, the more space you’ll need to cultivate.
  • Watering your soil frequently – Funnily enough, watering your landscaping doesn’t actually damage your foundation. In fact, it does the opposite. When you keep the soil around your home healthy, it can more readily absorb rainwater and other run-off. If it’s under-hydrated, your soil will shrink in size, causing your plants and your foundation to shift. While you’ll always want to keep your watering within the realms which your plants require, do what you can to keep your soil damp and healthy to better protect your home.
  • Mulching – One of the best ways to improve the health of the soil around your home is to invest in mulch. You can place mulch over your soil to both ward off rainwater and to keep your plants consistently healthy. Alternatively, you can invest in hyper-absorbent mulch, which will more actively protect your foundation without overwhelming your landscaping and rotting away plants’ roots.
  • Keeping your drains clear – Ideally, you’ll want to have a few drainage systems installed around your home. When landscaping, you’ll need to keep these drains as clear as possible. You can do this via several means, including drainage curtains or loose gravel installations. That said, you’ll need to make drain cleaning a regular part of your landscaping maintenance if you want to continue to keep water away from your foundation.

Trees and Plants to Avoid Planting

When all is said and done, there’s not one uniform landscaping plan that’ll keep your home safe from eventual foundation damage. That said, there are some trees and bushes that are more prone to invasive growth than others. At a minimum, you can avoid planting these types of foliage around your home. While their roots won’t physically damage your foundation, they will cause the soil beneath your home to shift. As that soil shifts, your foundation may settle and crack.

Tree and plants worth avoiding if you want to prevent root damage around your home include:

  • Hybrid poplars
  • Bradford pears
  • Willows
  • Chinese flame trees
  • American elms
  • Eastern cottonwoods
  • Silver maples
  • Mimosa trees
  • Southern magnolias
  • Sweetgum trees

Do note that you don’t have to ban these types of trees and plants from your yard. Instead, try to keep them at least 20 feet away from the perimeter of your home. This way, they’ll have the room they need to grow without butting up against your foundation.

Dealing with Overgrown Landscaping

Even if you do take precautions with your landscaping, you may still see signs of foundation damage in your home. In these cases, it’s best to reach out to one of the professional foundation repair contractors working in the Raleigh, NC, area for a free inspection and estimate. A contractor can inspect your home and tell you whether or not it’s your landscaping that’s causing your foundation problems. Regardless of the cause, a contractor can also propose potential solutions that’ll dry out your home.

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