Landscaping Tips for Avoiding Leaky Basements

Tips to Avoid Leaky Basements

Besides gutters and downspouts, landscaping is always the first line of defense when it comes to basement waterproofing. Landscaping mistakes can lead to leaky basements in no time. 

Keep the Grade Sloping Away from Your House

First, look at your lot.  Make sure that the grade is sloping away from the house.  Try for a slope of at least 1/4 inch per foot so that water drains out into the yard, not toward your foundation. Simply add soil, raking it smooth, until the grade is highest at the house’s perimeter. If you live on a hill or steeply graded lot then this will be even more important.  Rain water will flow with the slope of the earth.  If the grade is sloped toward the foundation, the ground will saturate around the foundation wall causing hydrostatic pressure to build up.  Hydrostatic pressure will push the water into the foundation wall, and it will find its way inside the basement.  Hydrostatic pressure can also cause foundation cracks allowing for an additional way for water to enter.

Never Plant Bushes Too Close to the Foundation

You should not plant shrubs and bushes too close to the foundation wall.   Plants and bushes naturally draw in water, and most people water the outside plants—therefore, having plants close to the foundation will create a situation where water is building up again by the foundation wall.  Roots can also be a problem pushing up against the foundation wall causing cracks. 

Give Trees Room to Grow

The same goes for trees.  Never plant a tree too close to the foundation wall either.  Plant shade trees with aggressive roots like maples at least 20 feet away from your foundation. Smaller trees, like firs, can be a little closer needing about 10 to 15 feet clearance.  Tree roots can easily push against a concrete foundation and leave it with multiple cracks allowing water to enter the basement and potentially causing serious structural damage. 

Landscape Drainage

Exterior landscaping drainage is also important.  The yard should never have puddles.  Make sure you have the proper French drains installed in the yard to create somewhere for the rainwater to go.  The gutters and downspouts should be tied into the yard drainage system.   Make sure the landscaping is equipped with the proper drainage system so the water doesn’t end up in the basement.