Planting Near a Basement or Crawlspace: How to Avoid Damage

by Doris Arnold 05/04/2021


Image by Jean-Pierre Pellissier from Pixabay

It's tempting to plant shrubs and other plants against your house to hide the basement or crawlspace area. However, you could be asking for trouble. Before you buy or plant anything new for spring, find out why it's not such a good idea to have plants too close to your basement or crawlspace.

Roots

Trees, shrubs and bushes all have extensive root systems to help the plant get enough water to survive. If you plant them close to your basement or crawlspace, the roots could erode the soil under and around the foundation. They could also damage any waterproofing you have. A tree's roots can grow to be up to three times the size of the tree's canopy. Some trees, such as poplars, willows, silver maples, cottonwoods and aspens have aggressive root systems that will head straight for moisture. To prevent damage to your foundation, trees should be planted at least 25 feet from your home.

Pests

Think of plants and shrubs as superhighways for bugs and rodents. If you plant them close to the foundation, not only can the roots erode the soil around the foundation, but the branches can provide an easy way for these pests to find their way into your house. If you have window wells in your basement or vents for a crawlspace, these areas can also get clogged with plant debris including dead leaves. This provides a great spot for bugs to hide out. Bugs, like roots, can also damage the waterproofing on your foundation as well.

Grade Erosion

Every home has a grade to keep excess water away from your foundation. If the grade erodes, water could pool against your home and eventually seep into your basement or crawlspace. Keeping plants and shrubs away from the foundation allows you to maintain the grade. If the grade deteriorates over time, you can add more backfill as needed, though once you plant grass or cover it with gravel, it shouldn't erode.

Tips for Choosing Plants and Trees

Keeping grass or gravel close to the foundation deters pests and rodents such as termites and mice. In addition to that, you still have options for plants that won't cause harm when close to your foundation. Here are some best practices:

  • Choose trees that do not have aggressive root systems.

  • Keep large trees and shrubs at least 50 feet away from the foundation.

  • Keep small shrubs and trees at least 25 feet away from the foundation.

  • Make sure your yard has the proper slope going away from your house.

  • Keep small shaped shrubs at least 5 feet away from the house. For those that you plant as close as 5 feet, choose evergreens that keep their leaves during the winter.

Tips for Protecting Your Foundation

If you have a slope that directs water toward your house, have your builders install a French drain or other drainage solutions to redirect the water away from the house. If you have a low area in the yard that is far enough away from the house, direct the water there. You can then landscape that area with plants that prefer the extra water.

Finally, if you are building a new home, be sure the builders use the best waterproofing material on the basement or crawlspace so that you don't end up replacing it later. If the waterproofing material cracks or tears and allows water in, it will always be damp under the house. The dampness attracts pests and allows mold and mildew to form in your home. Spending a little extra money now for extra drainage and better waterproofing can save you thousands in the future.

About the Author
Author

Doris Arnold

Real Estate is, if nothing else a people business. For me as a leading real estate professional, my work is not so much about buildings, contracts and inspections; it's about people, their dreams, aspirations and the most important place in their world- their home. I am a people person through and through. Simply put, people fascinate me... spend a few minutes with me and you can sense this unique attribute. I listen intently to you and most importantly, I have a genuine interest in what you have to say. Follow me around for a day and you will witness the powerful and positive effect I have on the people around me, whether it's my family, close friends, or a community acquaintance. Undoubtedly, you will see a caring and committed woman who makes a difference in people's lives. If you ask my past clients what they liked about working with me, some would say it was my business savvy and real estate expertise that impressed them, but most of them would comment on how much I cared about them. I really listen to what my clients want and do what I can to anticipate their needs. I always try to stay one step ahead and keep in constant contact. My clients know I am always working for them to keep them informed and up-to-date, and I have a highly organized way of walking my clients throughout the process of buying or selling their home that makes them feel confident nothing will slip through the cracks. I absolutely love what I do and I can tell you "I'm in The Business of People." What that means to me is that I have the privilege of helping my clients achieve their dreams. What that means to you is that you can count on me to care about what matters most to you because I make your real estate needs my top priority.