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The April showers have arrived, and right on time. When’s the last time you checked the foundation of your home for water damage? If you’ve done so recently and have found pooling water, wet insulation, or black mold and rot on the floor, it’s time to start thinking about some major repairs. Mold could indicate that your sub-flooring is rotting which might leave a huge hole in your floor! But before you start replacing the flooring, first things first: You need to address the water issue. And your landscaping may be the enemy.

Landscaping can act as a natural filter, because water follows the path of least resistance to the lowest levels of any given property. Poor landscaping can facilitate water entering your home’s foundation as topsoils, mulch, and loose rocks filter rain and excess water into the foundation if placed too closely to your home. Plastic vapor barriers can help protect against water, though over time the material can fail, which means you’ll need to keep replacing the barriers. Using a heavy clay soil that’s compacted and sloped as the first layer of your landscaping will help to drain water away from your home. And adding a bed of mulch, as well as a layer of topsoil for plants, will provide even more protection. Making sure that concrete patios, driveways, or walks slope downwards will also encourage proper draining.

Drains can also be the culprits. Rain gutter drains need to be directed no less than six feet from your foundation, though you may need to extend them further if your house has a sloping yard or sits on a hillside. You might consider burying unappealing drains just under your yard’s surface. Before you start digging, however, be sure to call 811 so a professional can mark off any water lines, buried cables, or gas lines. The free service could save you from accidentally hitting and breaking one of them.

Consider burying a French drain around your foundation’s perimeter, all the way down to the footing. French drains comprise flexible pipes that are full of holes, which allow for water to drain properly. A sediment sock also covers the pipes, which keeps silt from entering the system. After a trench is dug, crushed stone is placed inside, followed by the drain tile and a second layer of stone. Finally, a layer of compacted topsoil is placed in the trench to match ground level. Excess water is then directed to the drain before it can enter your foundation. If your home’s perimeter is too low to be able to install such a system, you can also install an exterior sump pump to help raise water to a point where gravity can take over.

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Landscaped backyard with neatly trimmed hedges