It’s November and no one in the Midwest is thinking much about landscaping or building a deck. Let’s face it – for the next few months any outdoor maintenance in this part of the country will involve a snow shovel.
However, if you’re not a fan of winter the great thing is that spring is right around the corner and many homeowners will be planning outdoor projects while the snow flies. While you’re planning, keep in mind that landscaping, patios, decks and other hardscape will have an impact on how water is managed around your home and, ultimately, on whether or not it ends up in your basement.
Don’t Plant Trees Close to the Foundation—The root systems of trees and shrubs will draw too much moisture during a drought from soil surrounding your foundation, which may result in cracks in foundation walls or, in severe cases, sinking or dropping of the foundation itself. Also, roots can cause clogging in exterior drain tile, not to mention sewer lines. Better to keep the larger plantings away from the house.
Plan for Water Run-off from Hard Surfaces – If you’re planning a driveway, a brick paver patio or a wooden deck or porch as a pleasant addition to your home, pay careful attention to slope. If these large surfaces that adjoin the house permit the flow of rain water back toward your foundation, you will have compromised yard drainage and created a major basement water problem for yourself. Check with local building codes to be exact but a typical slope for such structures is one inch for every 8 feet.
Don’t Forget the Downspouts – Whether you’re doing new flower beds or laying a sidewalk, make sure you include extending your downspouts in your plan. We’ve talked a lot in this blog about the importance of keeping the rain water that runs off your roof away from your foundation and it’s a lot easier to install underground downspout extension before you plant shrubs and flowers or pour concrete.
Don’t Create “Negative Slope” if You Change Your Grading – Regrading a yard is a big job and not many people take it on but, if you do, make sure that your new grade slopes away from the house. If you inadvertently create a negative grade you’ll increase many times over the chances that you’ll get water in your basement, damage your foundation or both.
In short, don’t let a great plan to beautify the outside of your home turn the inside of your basement into a soggy mess. If you know ahead of time where the pitfalls lay, it’s easy to avoid them, whether you’re taking on a do-it-yourself project or hiring a contractor.
Consider bringing a basement waterproofing professional into the project in its early stages. At U.S. Waterproofing, we’ve helped thousands of homeowners install underground downspout extensions, dry wells and other safeguards to ensure you’re getting proper yard drainage before and after your big landscaping project or new deck. Please ask for a free consultation.
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