In the first part we talked about the importance of proper slope around your foundation so that water isn’t held against the foundation. Now lets talk about the things to consider when planning new landscaping beds near the house. One of the most common faults I find as a Houston home inspector are landscaping beds that promote moisture intrusion and insect activity.

Our primary concern remains the same. Water is enemy number one when it comes to your house, so we are going to talk about it a lot.

When you construct your new beds to be filled with beautiful plants, you will probably be concerned with how you will get water to them.

But what about your foundation? Well, it needs water too.

When it comes to your slab on grade foundation, it has a love/hate relationship with water. Too much water soaking an expansive clay soil type can put pressure on the slab. Not enough water and the soil shrinks, leaving a void into which the foundation can move.

The key is making sure water always has a path to move away from the foundation. The undisturbed soil under your flower bed should have the slope we discussed in part one. Be sure you don’t build a dam around the bed by using landscape edging that will impede the flow of water. And one more item to consider is lawn irrigation systems. It is a great convenience to have permanently installed sprinkler systems but these need to be properly installed and maintained.

In general, install sprinkler heads at least 12 inches from the foundation and direct the water so it does not directly water that 12 inch space. Avoid running the supply pipe close to the foundation. Regularly check the operation of each sprinkler head.

If you notice weak flow or no flow, investigate as soon as possible. An underground leak may be holding water near the foundation or creating a void from erosion. Should you “water” the foundation? The simple answer is no.

If you you are watering enough to keep the vegetation alive, you are most likely providing enough moisture for the foundation. You can create a much worse situation if the soil surrounding your foundation becomes unbalanced.

If one side receives much more water than the others it can expand and move the foundation. It is rare to find a home with equal foundation exposure on all sides.

Driveways and patios of concrete or other nearly impervious materials effectively seal the areas of the foundation they are adjacent to.

Southern exposure creates different moisture conditions than the northern side. Just make sure water can drain away from the foundation properly and you will have done most of the work in preventing moisture related foundation issues.

© 2017 Patrick Miceli