With spring on the horizon, our thoughts turn to planting trees, flowers and general landscaping around the home. However, too often, what started out as a good idea to add beauty to the home can end up causing unintended problems.
Here are the 4 biggest issues we notice with landscaping:
Plants planted up against the house
Bushes, shrubs, flowers and even grass right against the house can cause a multitude of issues. Moisture from watering the plants can accumulate near the foundation, which over time can lead to deterioration of the foundation. People often unintentionally direct irrigation to spray on the plants near the house, which leads to water spraying directly on the house. Over time, this water can deteriorate the stucco or siding. The water can also attract insects, such as termites. Because the damage from water spraying on the house is not readily visible, it can often take years before the problem is noticed, in which time the damage can potentially be extensive. We recommend at least 12″, if not 18″ between home and plants.
Planter beds up against the home raise the level of soil against the foundation. They also tend to trap water in the bed during the rainy season. The water ends up soaking through the foundation. Over the course of many years, the water can undermine the foundation, and lead to the concrete deteriorating or cracking. Ideally, planter beds should have a waterproof barrier between the bed and home, and drainage to allow excess water to escape the planter bed away from the foundation.
Trees near the house
When I mention trees near the house, most people tend to think of tree roots damaging the foundation, While this can be an issue, it’s rare to see. However, tree damage to the roof is much more common. Tree branches can rub against the roofing materials, cause the roofing materials to become worn, and in some cases, the roof shingles are ripped or the tiles become broken. Leaves and branches can accumulate on the roof, and hold moisture against the roof, which again leads to premature wear of the roof. Other issues include branches that may fall and damage the roof, and leaves may also clog the gutters. Trees should be trimmed by a qualified professional to keep branches away from the home and from hanging directly over the home.
Vines on the house
By far, the most damaging planting issue is allowing vines to grow on the side of the home. While, yes, it can be very pretty and add curb appeal, vines can also lead to significant issues. The most common problem is vines are essentially a superhighway for insects and rodents to enter the home. The vines themselves can damage the stucco of the home. Vines can also continue to grow right up and into the attic.
In an extreme case, these vines had grown in such a way the downspout had become separated from the gutter system. This allowed all the water from the roof to be directed to one area at the foundation, which lead to a high level of moisture in the crawlspace. The high levels of moisture in the crawlspace lead to the foundation developing a crack. A simple job of not trimming the vines lead to many thousand dollars of damage.
To book your home inspection, call 818-298-3405