Outside a structure, properly installed gutters and downspouts, are only part of the puzzle when it comes to preventing water damage to the foundation. The landscape around the structure is also important to proper drainage. Both inspectors and contractors will talk about “maintaining positive slope.” Maintaining positive slope means that water is always being moved away from the structure due to the direction of the ground falling away from the building, the type of vegetation and all drainage systems.
All parts of the home contribute to this issue. Even window wells and outdoor stairways must have the proper covers or drains to prevent pooling water. Vegetation must be kept far enough away from the structure and underground plumbing to keep roots away from the foundation, pipes and any masonry joints. By thinking about both the above and below-ground elements of plants, and creating a positive slope away from the structure, it is possible to create a visually pleasing landscape that uses water efficiently and protects building materials from intrusion or damage.