TERRAIN SHAPING AND WATERING GUIDELINES FOR FOUNDATIONS
It is is important to keep the soil around any foundation sloping away from it by a distance of about five feet This slope should be at least one percent (a drop of a little over one half an inch for the five foot disdistance). The homeowner may have to add or remove dirt in this five foot distance to establish this sloslope. Dirt adjacent to the foundation should not be closer than two inches to the brick ledge (the botbottom of the bricks). Water should not stand adjacent to the foundation; nor should flower beds trap or or direct water back towards it. In some conditions, lot boundaries or retaining walls may limit the disdistance a homeowner can slope the dirt adjacent to and away from; a foundation. In these cases the hohomeowner must slope the dirt next to the foundation so excess water will be drained away.
Trees and shrubs can take enormous amounts of water away from soil next to and beneath a foundation. Tree and shrub roots may extend out from their trunk a distance equal to the height of the plant. Hence, it is recommended that trees or shrubs not be closer than their mature height to the edge of a foundation. If trees or shrubs exist or are added at the closer distances, watering programs should be adjusted to assure that these plants do not have to get moisture from beneath the foundation.
Once a foundation deflects or bends due to an uneven moisture in its supporting soil, it takes several months to years to return the supporting soil to a uniform moisture level. For most foundations, a minimum of six months up to a maximum of three to four years is required to return the supporting soil to a uniform moisture level. A good watering program will work only after the terrain shaping program has been completed.
Many people are finding that adding soaker hoses is the easiest way to restore soil beneath a foundation to a uniform moisture level.
After the terrain is shaped to slope gently away from the foundation place the soaker hoses between two and three feet away. Watering should start with daily watering which will get the entire five feet next to the foundation wet. Test the water content of nearby soil by putting your finger down about three inches next to the edge of the foundation. There should be enough moisture in the dirt to have a little dirt stick to the end of your finger. If no dirt sticks to your finger during such test, more water must be added.
Any time soil is pulled away from the edge of a foundation, it indicates the dirt beneath it needs deep moisture. The voids next to it should be filled with dirt, the terrain should be shaped to carry excess water away from it, and an aggressive watering program should be started. Daily watering should continue until the dirt stops pulling away from the edge of the foundation.
SCREENING SHRUBBERY FOR PRIVACY
Since homes now seem to be built closer together, shrubs and trees can provide much needed privacy. Neil Sperry, well-known gardening expert, suggests the following as the best screening shrubs for North Texas landscapes.
8-to-10 foot screens
Glossy Abelia – Six to eight foot evergreen shrub with small, white, bell-shaped blooms that last all season, and no pest problems reported.
Elaegnus Ebbengei – Grows to eight feet for taller with distinctive gray-green foliage and no pest problems reported.
Willowleaf Holly – Grows six-eight feet tall, bears large, red fruit every winter.
Burford Holly – The standard form of Burford Holly provides a six-eight foot screen, bears large red fruit in winter, and resembles a Willowleaf Holly.
Yaupon Holly – Most Yaupon Holly in nurseries have been trained into tree-form habits, however, a nursery can order container-grown, shrub-form holly. Its mature height is eight to ten feet.
Mary Nell Holly – This type of holly grows slower than other forms of holly, has evergreen leaves, and tends to grow in an upright-oval.
10-15 foot screens
Nellie R. Stevens Holly – Best choice for sun or shade, grows 12-15 feet tall and 8 feet wide. It is deep green, and bears large, crimson berries.
Cherry Laurel – Best suited for sandy soils, rather than thicker black clay soil.
15 – 20 foot screen
Chinese Photinia – Not to be confused with Red-Tip Photinias, is rare in nurseries. However it can be grown from seeds of existing plants found in older neighborhoods. It grows to 18 feet tall and 12 feet wide.
Japanese Ligustrum – Grows to and beyond 20 feet tall, bears large clusters of purple fruit that stand out against its dark evergreen leaves.