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side of house

Posted by jeanerz13 6a (My Page) on
Sat, Jul 12, 14 at 17:01

After a heavy rain a few weeks ago, I noticed something like 2 or 3 inches of standing water along the side of the house. There was also a wet area on the foundation that made it appear the water level had been even higher. I'm thinking I need to put in some dirt to level out the ground and make it slope away from the house so water doesn't pool there. Then, I was thinking of planting there so the dirt doesn't just wash away.

Usually when I see plantings on he side of the house (not front), they're just a foot or so deep...big enough for a single row of daylilies or something. Would it look strange to have that side planting be deeper than that? I'm thinking that if I do this, I might want it to come far enough out to go around the chimney, but I'm worried it might look funny.

Also not sure if it should be a continuation of the front bed or a seperate bed. I'm thinking it should be a continuation with some snakey curves to come around the corner.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: side of house

I'd imagine in a heavy rain, water just spills over the sides of your short splash block adding to any pooling. How fast does it dissipate? Is your meter read by remote? If so, something (smallish) in front of it doesn't matter. Not sure a single row of daylilies would make too much of an impact against the whole lot of white on that side - consider a bit of layering of two and three deep plantings with things that don't mind getting their feet wet occasionally.

Link is to a long list of wet/damp condition plants prepared by Clemson Univ. some of which could be useful to you in your zone.

Here is a link that might be useful: Plant list


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RE: side of house

I meant the row of daylilies as an example of how narrow the strip is that I usually see on the side of houses...I was just wondering if it would look funny to have the planting area thicker than that on the side of the house :/ And yeah, the splash block probably doesn't help...There's actually 2 there... one on top of the other...for awhile the top one had the back end lower than the front so all the water ran backwards. When I noticed that one day I piled stuff under the back end so it could get to the 2nd one...but I think once it drains out, it's still at the bottom of the slope so it just comes back. Ugh. Here's a picture I took when it had all that standing water:

I don't know how the gas meter is read...I guess I'd have to call them and ask...I wouldn't want to hide more than just the bottom part of it (in case they had to repair or replace it or something) -- maybe a short groundcover?

Thanks for the link -- I'll look into it :)

Any thoughts about going around the chimney? Or do you think I should keep it in line with the chimney? I was thinking it would be nice to block off the chimney with the planting border at least (if not with plants actually in front of it). There's a corner that is damaged -- probably hit by a lawn mower. I'm going to have it repaired soon, but it would be nice to have it blocked so it doesn't get damaged like that again. Also, there's a bare spot under the bottom of the chimney where nothing grows, so if I did plants in front I would be hiding that.


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RE: side of house

"Usually when I see plantings on the side of the house (not front), they're just a foot or so deep... This is only because people see side their yards less so don't want to spend much money there. Also, chronically, they never allow enough room for plants to grow properly. A foot isn't even enough room for a row of day lilies. It should be at least 3 times that. There is no reason you can't make a decent size landscape bed at the side of your house. I would not introduce a "snakey curve" bed line however. A simple radius curve, like what you have now would look better. You definitely need to raise the grade along the side so the water drains away from the house. Actually, grade at the front looks a little high (too close to the siding. You might consider lowering it one course and reshaping the bed to go around the corner so that it was one integrated structure.


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RE: side of house

When you say lower it one course, do you mean remove one layer of bricks? I know the bricks go higher up than the dirt/rock. What is the minimum amount of space that needs to be between the top of the bed material and bottom of the siding?


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RE: side of house

"What is the minimum amount of space that needs to be between the top of the bed material and bottom of the siding?"It depends on who you talk to, but the ball park min. is 6" to 8". It looks like you have 3" to 4". Lowering the bed one course of brick would get you closer to the ball park.


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RE: side of house

would it "look funny"? No, I don't think so, and furthermore, if you like it who cares? Is there a gate in your fence there? If so, make sure you factor in appropriate access to it.


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RE: side of house

So, I finally got around to having my landscaper cone out to look at the issue. First, I mentioned the idea of lowering the bed one course. He said he could do it, but that it wasn't necessary. He said that space is left to keep insects and such from crawling up under the siding and since I have decorative rock instead of wood mulch, 4 inches was plenty. I don't know what to think about that.

I asked him about grading the side and he said he could. His plan was to raise the soil level next to the house to right under the gas line and grade it to slope away from the house. I asked about having the top of the soil line lower and he said that would require digging out a lot of the side yard.

When I talked about the possibility of extending the bed around the side of the house, I mentioned that drain pipe that is mostly buried under the bed. He thought it would be easiest to just direct it to this sort of low area between my house and my neighbor's house. I'm not sure that is on my property and was concerned about having my runoff directed to the neighboring property. Is there some city official I should call to take a look and tell me where I can direct the water? I know I can call a surveyor to get the location of my property lines, but if I remember correctly, this low area is right on the property line or just over it. Besides, I don't think I want this big black drain going across my whole side yard. It would be ugly, not to mention in the way for mowing.

Any thoughts on all this?


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RE: side of house

"First, I mentioned the idea of lowering the bed one course. He said he could do it, but that it wasn't necessary. He said that space is left to keep insects and such from crawling up under the siding ...." There seems to be a disconnect here. It sound like he's addressing the question of RAISING the bed higher. Lowering the bed level would not increase how many insects want to crawl upward to get under the siding. And it would not raise the moisture level affecting the siding. If anything, it would do the opposite.

The black drain pipe exiting the existing bed... where is this coming from? What is the source of the water ... a downspout ... or yard drain? You should illustrate the path of travel, if possible.

Where does water that would enter the "low spot between [you] and [your] neighbor" go?

If you're regrading the side area, it would be better to reconfigure the raised planting bed to a new scheme.


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RE: side of house

Yardvaark, I think what he was trying to say was, "You don't have to lower it a course...4 inches is plenty, especially since you don't have the kind of mulch that attracts bugs".

The drain pipe is coming from the downspout on the canopy thing by the front door (that canopy has issues of its own...like being tilted away from the downspout instead of toward it)

I'll try to get some pictures of what I'm calling the low point in the yard (and it's relative position) tomorrow when the lighting is better, but yes, it would be going straight across the side yard. It'd be like having the black pipe go straight across the side yard toward the neighbor's house and then just stop to empty about 5-10 yards before hitting their house. In the first picture above, you can kind of see where the black drain pipe is coming out of the flower bed now, just a little in front of the drain spout on that corner of the bed.

My understanding of what the landscaper thought we'd do if we extended the flower bed was to just have the tube go farther out in the same direction (pictures hopefully forthcoming). Someone else I had talked to (not a landscaper) suggested that it should be routed toward the back yard (though the fence may pose a challenge in that case)


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RE: side of house

"... what he was trying to say was, "You don't have to lower it ... No. I'm not say you have to lower it either. I'm saying it would look better and help your reach your other goals, especially continuation of the bed around the corner, which I think is preferable, since the house goes around the corner, too.

I would simplify drainage, properly grade, and change the pipe to a splash block -- and make the bed continue around the corner.

If you show me a picture of the low spot, it's still not going to answer the question of WHERE WATER GOES once the low spot fills up. How does water get out of there? What direction does it take? ... directly to the neighbor's house? (Probably not.) Or toward the back yards? (Probably.) And, is there ponding or does the water flow continue until completely drained?


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RE: side of house

Oh I see... I'm not sure where that low spot between the houses would drain...I've never seen it filled with standing water after a storm, so it must go somewhere, but there's also nothing trying to dump all it's water to that spot right now either. It's like a shallow ditch between the houses...I suppose it would go toward the back yard. Right now the only ponding of water I've seen is next to the house (which is what I'm trying to fix).

I'm sorry if I'm being dense, but where would the splash block go? If the black tube was dug up out of the flower bed, then the downspout would be draining into the flowerbed, and I'm sure you don't mean to put a splash block on top of my flowers... If it is to go on the outside of the bed, wouldn't I still need the tube in place to get it to the splash block?

I'm also trying to picture this thing with the garden bed lowered a course. I can see it maybe looking better, but then I think about how he said he'd raise the soil level by the house to right under the gas line (coming out of the meter heading to the back of the house for a deck hookup). If he raised the soil level to there, and wrapped the flower bed around with only 2 courses of brick, wouldn't it end up being lower than level of the soil? I thought the brick would have to be higher than the dirt to hold it all in place. And if we need the brick that high on the side, wouldn't it need to be that high on the front to look right? Maybe I'm thinking too close to the house...I guess if the outside edge is a few feet out from the house (so sloped away some) then where the bricks are, the soil wouldn't be as high as the gas line...

I really don't know anything about this stuff and I'm sorry if I'm making you shake your head in disbelief at my stupidity Yardvaark.

:-/ I'm sorry I'm just not getting it.


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RE: side of house

"... sure where that low spot between the houses would drain...I've never seen it filled with standing water ..." You don't need to see it filled with water. If you stood at the spot, couldn't you discern which way, generally, is downhill from there? I suspect it's toward the back. Per your description, it seems like there is a fair space between you and neighbor. If both those are true, then running water in the direction of the side yard will not be a problem. It will drain off with the natural flow.

You have not yet provided a good picture of the front planting bed area so I can't see the downspout and the details about it. But you'll need the water aimed toward the street (which is away from the house) which may need an angled tail piece at the bottom of the downspout in order to aim it at that direction. Then the splash block. If there are flowers in the way, move them. The splash block has priority. Foliage of something nearby can shield it. Of course, the grade -- sloping away from the house -- must be proper.

Because you have the front bed separated from the side, you are thinking of these areas in pieces. For a minute, think of all the landscape bricks being gone and how earth would slope downward away from the house. This would continue around the corner without a change in grade, so therefore, the grade along the side is raised. It would probably be a compromise elevation where the front was lowered a little and the sides were raised a little. Raising the grade at the outside of the bed by using the bricks as a retaining wall means that the slope will not be as pronounced as it would without them. To my thinking, the bricks actually complicate matters without actually providing a great benefit. The wall they make is so thin that it looks cheap and fragile. I would trade it in, in a half second on a good mowing strip. As a wall, of course the brick must be higher than the soil & mulch to retain it. But it should not be 3" higher. An inch would be fine.

You should provide a photo taken square-on from the front (of the planting bed area) and one square-on from the side. It would give a truer reading of what's there.

It has not been mentioned, but doesn't it look like the lawn is pretty bad where it gets close to the tree? I'm asking myself why the tree limbs are so low and no light is getting to the ground there? ... in addition to the fact that it must be obstructing a fair amount of view of the house from the street.


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RE: side of house

Yardvaark, I took a lot of pictures (around 11ish so hopefully not too many shadows) and put them in a flickr album. Link is below because I didn't want to try to put 11 pictures inline...

Yeah, there is a fair amount of space between my neighbor and me, but I don't like the idea of a black tube going all the way to my property line. But I guess if it's all regraded, that won't be necessary? I think this is kind of like back to the future "you're not thinking 4th dimensionally"...I'm not thinking "post regradingly".

I'm hoping some of the pictures help you see where the downspout is. The one in the front is (and has always been) aimed toward the side yard. The landscaper just connected a black tube and buried it under the bed when the flower bed was created...It's not like much water goes down that downspout anyway...stupid canopy is sloped away from it (not just the gutter... the whole canopy)...but that's yet another issue I need to deal with at some point *sigh*. I guess I was confused about having the splash block under the downspout because it would be in the back corner of the bed...you'd just have a splashblock in the middle of a flower bed...if you're gonna do that, why not just let the downspout drain directly into the bed? Hopefully you'll see what I mean in the pictures. Let me know if I need to take them closer up...but the downspout is behind the hydrangea in the flowerbed.

I don't know I kinda like the look of having the bricks to clearly delineate it from the yard as opposed to bricks just flat with the yard. But maybe that's not what you mean. Do you mean something more like this? I could go for something like that. My landscaper must get tired of me wanting to change everything all the time, but I guess I keep him in business :/

The whole front yard is crap. It's almost completely some kind of weed (clover and something else I think). It's nice that it's something that always stays short, but in early spring it looks like nothing but dirt. I was hoping to have it re-seeded this fall (but I'm waiting for the HOA drama to be resolved first).

The tree probably does need to be limbed up. Actually I trimmed it some last year (before I knew you couldn't do that with pin oaks...that you have to cut off the whole branch...oopsie) I need someone to come trim off the dead limbs and maybe also some of the lower limbs, but I was told you should wait until cooler weather so you don't stress the tree as much. I personally think the tree is too big and too close to the house. I mean, I can even see one of the limbs resting in the gutter.

Here is a link that might be useful: Album with photos


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RE: side of house

The tree needs to be limbed up by more than a few inches. Keep in mind that after you remove lower limbs, a ways down the road, it will need to be done again as higher limbs become longer and hang even lower. So if you go a little farther than you think, be patient, it will come back into balance. You can pretty much remove lower limbs any time except when freezing conditions are too close. Your window of opportunity might be December through August.

Seeing the new pictures, I'm retracting the suggestion of lowering the wall one course. I didn't suspect there was as much grade differential at the porch. Also, seeing how close the tree is and how poor the grass below it is, has me thinking of incorporating the tree into a newly configured bed and getting rid of some of the turf area.


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RE: side of house

Sorry I've taken so long to get back to this. If you're retracting your statement about lowering it a course, do you think it would look ok to be that high around the side? I just have this weird feeling that it would feel kind of "heavy" for lack of a better word.

The thought I had for extending the bed around the side of the house (after the slope is fixed of course) was to kind of just pull it around and end it right after the gas meter. Then later on down the road, possibly have like a half oval around the chimney (with stone underneath since nothing grows there anywhere) and then a mulch bed connecting the two. I didn't think this mulch bed would necessarily need such a high border (if at all).

To do the grading, the soil would still have to be raised to 3-4" below the siding (right below the gas line that comes out of the meter). Is this going to be a problem?

I'm kind of torn on incorporating the tree into the bed... to make the bed reach out and surround the tree would probably at least double its area. I figure this amount because I would expect you wouldn't just have a thin strip connecting a loop around the tree to the existing bed...I figured that it would need to extend forward some to loop in the tree more gracefully. There's not only the cost to think of when extending it this far, but considering the small size of my front yard, I wonder if this would just feel like too much proportionately. It is something to think about though.

As for limbing the tree up, I was thinking about having the dead limbs removed and any others on the same level as those dead limbs. I'm not sure how far up that would go. I would just want to be sure it could be walked under. Temperatures are still in the 80s and 90s here... do you think it's okay to try to get someone to limb it up for me in the next weekend or so? Or should I hold off until spring? I had waited as long as I did because I thought you were supposed to wait until the tree was dormant to start cutting off branches.


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RE: side of house

Based on the picture, it seems you can raise soil to just below gas line without it being a problem. (I would not extend the bed at its existing height around the corner.) You might consider the bed going around the corner & side with only mow. strip. or drop two courses from the existing.

Of course, whatever you do, you need to do it on paper first in order to see that the result will be acceptable. A mowing strip around the tree would be much less expensive than a "wall". So a combination if possible. Not sure I grasp your "proportionality" argument. Everywhere must be something that grows well. Dead grass under a tree does not say "nice proportions."

For removing a few lower branches from a tree, you could do anytime. For removing a lot, avoid the late summer. Even if you don't, it's not a permanent penalty.


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