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What Not to Plant Near Your Home

When planning your landscaping, you want to be careful not to plant certain items too close to your home. These include trees, shrubs and ivy. And you if you want to incorporate flower beds immediately adjacent to your home, choose low water varieties and be sure that they are evenly distributed around the perimeter.

Tree roots can wreak havoc on your home’s foundation and on your plumbing system. If you ever sell your home, nothing will make its value plummet, and the ability to even sell it, like a damaged foundation.

Tree roots can damage your plumbing system, breaking pipes or causing back ups. If a mature tree is too close to your home or too near your sewer line, you may have to hire a plumber to clear tree roots out of the sewer pipe periodically. Worse yet, you might have to pour copper sulfate or another toxic substance down your pipes on a regular basis, which not only kills tree roots, but other beneficial plants and animals.

Another consideration for trees is their branches can hang over your roof. Branches scraping the roof and the build up of leaf debris both cause millions of dollars of roof damage every year. Therefore, trees should be planted no closer to your house than a distance equivalent to half the height of what the mature tree will be. Generally speaking, trees should be planted at least 20 to 30 feet away from your house. This is because a mature tree can drink at least a whopping 300 gallons of water from the soil in just one day! This can cause the soil--and your home’s foundation--to settle. (What You Should Know about Your Foundation; Tree Roots and Root Barricades)

Shrubs are another item that should be planted several feet away from the house. Shrubs can grow very thick and rapidly, and therefore they can damage siding by scraping or staining it. Plus, it’s no fun trying to climb into thick shrubbery to reach all the way to the back of it to prune it. It’s near impossible to get between shrubs and the house if they’re planted too closely. You should be able to easily reach all shrubbery from all sides. Very thick shrubbery can also become a safety hazard, becoming a dark place for would-be intruders to hide.

As for ivy, it indeed looks beautiful on old brick buildings at university campuses, lending the stately air of an English garden. But it can work its way into the smallest of cracks, potentially damaging your home--even if your home is constructed of brick, stone or aluminum siding. Although homes made of brick, stone or aluminum siding can tolerate other vines if they are vigilantly pruned, ivy is far too ruthless. (“Vine Busting: Controlling Ivy and Other Climbing Plants”)

Ivy also shelters pests such as mice, rats and slugs. It provides an easy way for rodents to climb up into an attic too. Ivy also holds onto large quantities of dust and pollen, which can become a nightmare for any family members who suffer from allergies or asthma. (“Vine Busting: Controlling Ivy and Other Climbing Plants”)

It’s safe to incorporate flower beds next to your house. However, they should be uniformly distributed. Having a flower bed on only one side of your house, for example, leads to uneven soil moisture content and can affect the foundation. And make sure all flower beds feature identical ground cover, such as mulch. The key is consistency.

And be careful not to use plants that require a huge amount of water. That’s because keeping areas immediately next to the house continually saturated will initiate a net increase in soil moisture content, which can cause the soil to expand around your foundation. Regular moisture around your home’s perimeter is a good thing--such as from a soaker hose laid 18 inches to two feet from the house--but pooled water is not. (What You Should Know about Your Foundation)

Sensible landscaping will help you add to your home’s beauty and value, rather than detracting from it!

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