It seems like we’ve had to work really hard to persuade spring to appear. But that hasn’t kept gardeners from planning their landscaping for the coming year.

As you look for trees and large landscaping plantings, remember to keep your foundation and house safe as you decide which plants to buy and where to place them.

Finding the right tree

“Trees have very specific site requirements that should be considered before they are given a new home,” John Lang writes for the Arbor Day Foundation.

In addition to sunshine available, soil type and weather, one key factor to consider is your yard’s drainage. “If your yard is sloped, trees and plants at the bottom of your yard will retain more water and may even be prone to drainage issues. Keep this in mind when deciding on the water needs of your future tree,” Lang says.

Another key factor is required growing space. Take a look at where your house is located on your lot, other structures such as decks and sheds, utility lines above and below the ground, and other plants and trees.

“Poor placement can result in roots or branches too close to structures, driveways or sidewalks,” Lang says. This could lead to foundation cracks, damage and leakage in the future.

“You could also run into problems with underground plumbing, or overhead or underground power lines,” he adds.

Tree sizing guide from the Arbor Day Foundation

The Arbor Day Foundation offers a sizing guide (right) that shows the growth heights for certain trees.

If you’re a planting tree to create shade for your house and lower energy bills, position it so it will block the late afternoon sun, according to Jim at Since afternoon sun shines at a lower angle, “In order to get the most useful shade on a house, you should place a shade tree about 20 feet from the house,” Jim says.

Three big problems can arise if you plant a tree too close to your house:

What not to plant

Roots for certain types of trees grow so aggressively that they shouldn’t be planted even 20 feet or more from your home, according to Jim. They include:

What you should plant

So what do experts recommend for planting near your house and foundation? Nikki Phipps at Gardening Know How makes these suggestions.

Resist the temptation to plant things right next your house to hide your foundation, adds Mike McGrath at Gardens Alive!

“You should always leave a foot of open space around the foundation to prevent moisture build up that can lead to mold and damaging dampness (and to avoid giving insects like carpenter ants and termites direct access to your home),” McGrath says. “Distance is good for the health of the house — and the plants.”

His rule of thumb for next-to-foundation plantings is this: “Take half of a plant’s ‘final width’ and add a foot; that’s close to a perfect rule for most plants.”

If you have questions or concerns about how planting trees and shrubs could affect the drainage in your yard, please call us at 816-741-8500 or contact Dry Basement online. We can check your yard for possible issues with draining and pooling water, and help you make sure your new landscaping won’t cause foundation problems.