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Proper foundation drainage keeps water away

With spring officially here, you will see articles galore on beautifying your yard, and countless tips about adding to your home’s curb appeal. The thing is, if you follow all of that advice and don’t have a solid foundation to start with, it'll all be in vain. I’m talking about both the structural foundation of your house, as well as the foundation of the soil around the property.

I live in an old house on a hill and in order for me to really improve the landscaping, or the unfinished basement, I need to ensure that water is entering and exiting the plot, correctly. So, as nice as it is to have sprawling courtyards with fire pits and lush gardens, you need to understand Mother Nature in order to make them last… season after season and year after year. Between the freezing and the thawing, erosion and general changing of the Earth, the only way to keep things stable is to have the correct infrastructure in place. This will help keep your cement from cracking, keep sink holes from developing in your paving stone patios, and puddles from forming in the middle of the yard.

That’s why the first thing I'm tackling this year at my place is drainage. Not very sexy, I know. But I want to make sure I have proper drainage around my home, which includes trenches and walls to divert water to where I need it. And keep it away from where I don’t… my cellar!

Now, you may already be set up with sump pumps, sand bags or whatever your quick fix is to combat water. Please understand that these are merely temporary stops or, at best, back-up options. What you really need are French drains, moats, berms or something to keep the water at bay and away from the perimeter of the house.

I understand this can all seem daunting, and it’d be so much nicer to go plant some bulbs, spread some mulch, maybe cut back the branches on your overgrown bushes and be done with it.

But my friends, I’m telling you, if you create a stable, dry perimeter, then you’ll have a dry basement, a solid foundation and a sculptable piece of land, where you can decorate and garden to your heart’s content. Your money will go further. And it won’t just sink into a mud pit.

-by George Oliphant