Positive drainage can help you protect and maintain your home’s foundation. Good builders always construct homes to have “positive” drainage. This term is civil engineering speak for: “Water flows away from the base of the house, and not towards it.”
But over time, negative drainage conditions lead to serious potential damage to the foundation of your home. Negative drainage occurs if for example, a house is missing rain gutters, or if the soil expands and contracts with moisture or temperature changes, or if there has been a general lack of maintenance over time.
Berms may be the solutions to foundation problems.
Berms are little man-made mounds with slopes that adorn the landscape. Adding a strategically located and constructed berm is one of the things you can do to prevent water from pooling near your foundation. This helps prevent expensive foundation damage, flooded crawl spaces, mold proliferation and other fun adventures in homeownership that we like to avoid. Berms also divert rainwater to protect your grass and flowerbeds from runoff damage.
The diverting effect of a berm can be used to protect your home, or it can be employed to protect your grass or flowers as well.
Berms can direct water into a variety of structures that will either store or drain runoff water. These include dry wells, swales, french drains, or general land grading.
Berming makes yards more private and screens out ambient noise.
A berm topped by small trees can act to create a subtle layer of privacy between your lawn oasis and the rest of the world. Less obvious than a fence, landscaped berms can still make an area of your yard feel secluded, protected from the wind and sheltered from that loud barking dog that lives down the street. No one likes to have their afternoon outdoors interrupted by noisy neighbors or their pets.
Berms can add curb appeal to your home.
Berms add a lovely effect to any landscaped yard. By breaking up flat areas and creating a place to highlight plants, small trees, sculpture or even a flower garden, you will add interest and dimensionality to your property that will help your yard stand out from the crowd.
Before you start to dig:
- Be aware that buried utility lines, telecom cables, and sewers might be lurking beneath the ground where you least expect them to be.
- Make sure that you call or visit 811 and use the City of Austin’s available resources to find and mark these hidden lines before you start digging.
- You will also want to educate yourself on your county’s rules about landscape modifications that have an effect on groundwater. It may be worth your time to check the permitting requirements before beginning a berming project, especially if you live close to a lake or stream.
A Step-by-step Plan for Berming:
- First, plan it out on paper. Determine the shape, size, slope, volume of materials, etc. needed to complete the project.
- Next, plan it on the ground. A great tip is to layout the shape of the berm using garden hoses.
- Remove existing plants and grass.
- Build the bulk of the berm with well-compacted fill material.
- Cover the fill with clay to hold the fill in place and prevent erosion over time.
- Cover the clay with topsoil.
- Plant as soon as possible so that the roots work to hold the topsoil in place.
- Cover the plant bases with mulch.
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Strategically placing and adorning berms on your property may sound like a wonderful idea, but it might be an intimidating project to start on your own. If breaking out the graph paper and calculator to plan and shape your home’s earthworks, renting a bobcat, and buying several yards of fill doesn’t sound like your idea of fun, give us a call. You can look to ABC for help.
ABC can plan and install earthworks, which add beauty, privacy and maintenance value to your home so that you can kick back and enjoy the new landscape.