Frontbed demo

Hi friends! I’ve told you what is in store for our ranch, which included a list of things we need to do to protect our foundation from water:

1. Replace the leaky roof and gutter
2. Extend the downspouts
3. Getting rid of the front flower bed
4. Correct the sloping issues of the front and back porch
5. Seal the corner foundation cracks
6.Fix faucet leaks
7. Grading around the house

This is THE list we have to cross off before winter. The roof, gutter, and porch work will be handed to the experts, and we have started working on the rest ourselves.

1. Removing front flower bed

You’ve seen our front flower bed before. Here is a closer look:



Landscaping right against houses is such a bad idea for any foundation, but lots of people do it for curb appeals. Our flower bed is a classic example – it is right next to the foundation of the house (the grey concrete part at the bottom of the house), and there is a vertical crack at this corner of the foundation:


You can see we have extended the downspout here (and at other corners of the house). But water issue from the bed itself persists.

Not surprisingly, the window well is badly rusted:


We enjoyed our morning roses for a couple weeks, but for the foundation, the plants had to go:




The roses developed very long and deep roots. We had to cut off the main root under two feet to move them. Not sure if they could make it. On the other hand, the irises were so hardy that they may stand a move in the middle of the summer. So I dug them all up and put them in pots with some soil.


I have nowhere to transplant them now, so I put them next to the curb with a “free plant” sign and they were gone in an hour!


The wood planks holding the flower bed have become rotten. It took Slav probably five minutes to take them down but just some kicks. With little force, they crumbled into mulch:



While Slav is transporting the soil, I weeded around the corner. After an hour, this corner of the house changed from this:


to this:



Now our foundation can breath!


2. Grading around the house

We then moved onto grading around the house. The goal was to create a 3~4 ft barrier around the house with a slope of ~1 inch per foot, so any surface water can flow away from the house instead of sipping down.

Sloping is pretty straight forward – you pile soil near the foundation, compact them down and make sure that there is a good slope, then cover the dirt with 6-mil poly layer. To improve the looks you can put gravel, mulch, or even replant sod on top of the poly layer. Instead of purchasing dirt, we decided to slowly building the slope around the foundation using free dirt generated from other yard projects.

I marked the area three feet from the foundation, all around the northern and western (front) side of the house:


The northern side – there are two bedrooms on ground level and the two windows are basement bedroom windows.


The west side (front) of the house, next to the front porch.


When Slav removed the front flower bed, he dumped the soil along the northern wall, where I marked.



Rest of the foundations (site plan here) are mostly surrounded by concrete patio, driveway, or walkway. With the front bed taken care off, our next task on the “water” list is to repair the concrete porches. It is happening this weekend, and we should have new patio next week!

Now our to-do list looks like this:

1. Replace the leaky roof and gutter
2. Extend the downspouts
3. Getting rid of the front flower bed
4. Correct the sloping issues of the front and back porch (in progress!)
5. Seal the corner foundation cracks
6. Fix faucet leaks
7. Grading around the house (in slow progress) 

Things are moving along!