The right landscaping is like the icing on a cake. It improves the appearance and shows people you have good taste. But some landscaping can leave you with a bitter taste, especially if it damages your home.
Trees and shrubs bring your property alive with color, aroma, shade, and natural beauty. But they also can damage your foundation, plumbing, and sidewalks and clog or even destroy your gutters. Check out these tips for landscaping that won’t hurt your Texas home.
Trees to Consider
It’s always fun to browse through a garden store or nursery and imagine tat trees and plants in your yard. Some trees and shrubs are perfect for your home, but others can cause a lot of damage. You can hedge your bets by choosing one of the following trees:
- Shady palm trees are an excellent choice for the Austin area, especially if your backyard has a pool. Roots don’t grow into the pavement or plumbing. Palms don’t shed much, so you won’t have to keep cleaning up the fronds and leaves.
- Cedar elm trees grow from 50 to 70 feet with spreading canopies that help keep your backyard cool.
- Desert willow trees have white and lavender flowers that appear in the spring. They need full sunlight, well-draining soil, and good drainage.
- Crepe myrtles, magnolias, maples, and dogwoods are all good native and low maintenance trees.
Trees to Avoid
Some trees are pretty, but not worth the problems they’ll cause.
- Bradford pears have beautiful blooms, but the trunks and branches of this invasive tree are brittle. All it takes is a good swift wind to tear them apart. They also fill your yard with a foul-smelling, pungent odor.
- Mulberry trees are also invasive, and their roots can crack through cement. Although birds enjoy eating the mulberries, their droppings will spread the seeds. The seeds grow quickly and take over everything in the landscape.
- Black walnut trees grow hard seeds that fall everywhere, making a real mess. They also jeopardize nearby flower and vegetable gardens by producing a toxin that will kill other plants.
- Weeping willows are grand and pretty, but they are better suited for riverbanks than your backyard. Willows absorb a lot of water, and the roots will spread to nearby sewer lines and plumbing. Plant it too close to your home, and the fallen branches can damage your roof and gutters.
Fast-growing tree roots spread into standard drainage pipes that have perforations to let water flow through. Deteriorating pipes made of clay or plastic crumble and crack over time, allowing invasive roofs to penetrate.
When trees get older, their roots must compete for water and nutrients. Roots cannot usually crash through solid concrete, but water and soil movement can buckle the pavement.
Location, Location, Location
Placement of your landscaping is crucial. NEVER plant shrubs or vegetation too close to the house because growing shoots and roots can spread under the foundation. Shrubs hold water, and the moisture can negatively affect the building structure. Moisture also attracts termites.
Determine the ultimate size of the shrubbery you want to plant — what looks nice and petite in the garden store won’t look like that in a few years. Know your plants — consider how big they’ll get once they mature.
Examine the property slope near the house compared to the rest of the yard. Grading a slope to remove or detour water runoff will help prevent draining problems.
Just like shrubbery, avoid planting trees too close to the house. Trees with aggressive root systems may cause serious structural damage by cracking the foundation. Weakening limbs growing over the house can lead to roof damage.
Sprucing up the landscape on your Texas property is aesthetically pleasing, and it can add to the value of your home. Before taking out your wallet, take out a pen and paper to make a game plan about what goes where.
Veteran house-flipper Luci Santos has a traveler’s heart but likes a base camp. Her goal is to buy and flip a house in every part of the United States. She writes about DIY and real estate topics.