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Landscape to prevent wet basements and yard flooding

Fall time welcomes us with chilly mornings, beautiful foliage, and pumpkin spice everything.  It’s also prime time for updating your landscaping to give new plants the perfect weather to take root.   A wise homeowner will strategically develop a plan that will not only add beauty to the property, but work as a preventative measure to avoid flooding your basement and yard. Landscaping professionals advise the following:  

  1.  Any landscaping close to the house must be graded away from the foundation.  In other words, when rain drains from your landscaping close to your house, be sure it is draining in the opposite direction of your home.  You do this by creating a downward slopping grade to naturally allow water to move away from the house as opposed towards the foundation and potentially the basement. 
  2. If your landscaping is impossible to grade away from the foundation, consider adding ground level trench in addition to the deeper French drain your home contractor should have installed.  The trench should be 18 to 30” deep and is filled with gravel, perforated pipe, landscaping fabric and a layer of stone or pebbles that will allow water to drain.  It also can prevent flooding in your yard by directing water to an area that can absorb it or a drainpipe.   Check out some YouTube tutorials in order to do this right, as it can be tricky.  This is a labor-intensive project and may be best to hire out to a professional landscaper.  
  3. Plant the proper shrubs and plants around the foundation being sure to allow 2 feet from the house for small shrubs, 3 feet for medium shrubs and 4 feet for large shrubs which will greatly expand.  Do not plant too close to the house or moisture will wick to the plants sometimes forcing water into the basement.  Additionally, some shrubs have aggressive root systems that as they mature, will seek the path of least resistance which could be a crack in your foundation.  Do your research.  
  4. Besides landscaping, be sure your gutters are functioning properly as clogged gutters will cause unnecessary water to gather around your foundation.  Additionally, dirty gutters trap water which can freeze in the winter forcing water under your roof shingles and behind walls causing even more serious water damage.   

These are just a few of the tips that are important to keep in mind when planning landscaping, whether new or updating current garden beds.  As the old adage states, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure – or in this case, avoiding a wet basement or cracked foundation.  So get out there this fall and take a look at your foundation plantings to be sure they are done correctly.  Then you can sit back with your pumpkin spice latte and rest before the winter begins to roar in.