Buying a home is a big responsibility, not only do you have to look after it on the inside – you also have to look after it on the outside.
Familarise yourself with what’s involved in planning and looking after your garden to make the process more efficient in the long-term.
Know your Soil
Did you know – houses that are built on reactive soils in particular are most susceptible to damage caused by soil movement? Reactive soils expand and contract with changes in their moisture content, meaning ‘hairline’ cracking is to be expected in houses built on reactive soil types. Knowing what soil type your house is built on is essential before starting to plan your garden. You will also need to limit the amount of water used in the vicinity of the house and aim to keep the moisture content of the soil as even as possible.
The ground immediately around the house should be graded away with a slope of 540mm over the first metre. Surface drains should take water away from the house and not allow landscaping to cover ‘weepholes’ or sub floor vents in brick walls. In case you are not familiar with the term, ‘weepholes’, they are the gaps left in brickwork to allow moisture to escape from the wall cavity. Be aware that under no circumstances should water lie under sub floor area.
Allow Space between your Garden and House
It is advised that large garden beds should not be located near the house. This is to prevent a potential fire hazard – as you don’t want the fire to easily latch onto the house. Instead, an area near the house should be set aside for paths or small shrubs.
Be Wise with Watering
Gardens and lawns should be watered adequately but not excessively, because over watering may lead to excess water build up (not to mention wastage, and it’s also costly). Watering systems must be carefully monitored as they frequently over water. Under watering during droughts or dry summers can result in foundation damage of home, particulary if the home is built on reactive soil which can shrink.
Trees and Shrubs
Select and place your trees carefully. Some tree roots take in excessive amounts of water and produce very dry conditions in a small localised area, causing inconsistent movement in the soil beneath the house. Some tree roots may also cause cracking of foundations by putting pressure against or under a concrete footing. This is a particular problem if the soil near the tree dries out, as the roots will extend in search of moisture. A good rule of thumb is that trees and large shrubs should be planted away from the house at a distance that is equal to the average mature height.
Tree roots can also be a persistent and costly menace to your household paved areas, sewer and stormwater pipes. Plant trees as far away from the sewer lines as possible.
For more gardening tips for your home, take a read of our Top 5 Gardening Jobs to do before Summer and Landscaping and Garden Inspiration for your Perth Home.