Your Garden May Be Harming Your Foundation
Plants around the exterior of a home can have a dramatic, beautifying effect on the entire environment. Flowers in bloom, or large, old tree definitely add more color and appeal to the look of a home. But at the same time, plants are living creatures, which means that they have certain requirements in order to survive. They need water and sunlight, but when it comes time to grow, they also need space. That need for space can sometimes prove harmful to the foundation of your home.
The Five Foot Rule
One general rule that many experts will give is that plants, especially trees and shrubs, should be at least five feet away from the home if they are planted directly into the soil and not some kind of flower bed of their own. The reason for this is the root system. As a plant grows, it stretches not just upwards, but downwards as well, anchoring itself further and further into the ground with roots designed to absorb all the nutrients they can from the soil, as well as water that is found there.
This can harm your foundation in two ways. If you are diligent about taking care of your plants, you’ll be giving them plenty of water. Unfortunately that water is now being deposited directly beside your foundation, and the plant can’t absorb all of it in that moment of watering, so some of it may be penetrating into your basement.
The other problem, especially with trees, is the root system itself. Plants can actually inadvertently harm themselves if their root system goes under the foundation. In normal circumstances, no water will ever appear here, so the plant is actually depriving itself of sustenance as it grows in that area. In the case of trees, roots can be extremely strong and grow to impressive sides. If this occurs too close to the foundation, over the years as the tree matures, this can actually damage your foundation.
If you’re thinking about adding more plants around the exterior of your home, be mindful of the distance to your house itself.