3 Spring Cleaning Tips to Prevent a Flooded Basement

leaves in gutterIt’s that time of year, and in case you’ve just had too much on your plate to get around to spring cleaning around the yard, just remember one thing – leave the leaves. All those oak and maple and birch leaves that fell last fall – the ones you didn’t quite rake out of the bushes or scoop out of the gutters – can cause more trouble than just being an eyesore.

Unclog the gutters

Ensuring good water flow away from your home is probably the top mandate of any spring-cleaning yard job. So if you don’t have screens over your gutters, you should definitely invest the time necessary to clear old leaves out of your gutters and downspouts, no matter how clear you think they are. The work you do on your gutters can actually save problems with your foundation, even prevent water from seeping into your basement. “If your downspouts are plugged, water's going to come over the edge of the roof or overflow the gutter and just come down along the foundation,” says Bob Alexander, foreman with Feste and Co., Inc., a landscape service provider in Byron, Ill. “And if you have issues with your foundation leaking, it's just going to go right down through there. That would be the main issue in terms of water control.”

Clean the shrubs

Even after you’ve cleared out the gutters, the tedious work isn’t over. Now you should look to the health of your shrubs, evergreen and deciduous. The reason? Those palmate leaves form a wet blanket over the root bases of those shrubs and provide a perfect breeding platform for molds and other pests that can damage the plants that create a big part of your home’s curbside appeal. “The important thing is to get them out from underneath the evergreens, like junipers and ewes, and one of the reasons why is that you want to get good airflow underneath them,” Alexander says. “If you're trying to spruce up your yard for spring, it just looks better to get all the leaves out of there. And with dogwoods and viburnums and larger shrubs, down inside where the roots come up out of the ground, it's good to clean them out of there because it doesn't stay wet in there.” That’s especially important for viburnums, which often get attacked by borers. Clearing the leaves out gives the insects one less place to lay their eggs and kill your plants.

Keep good bed lines

In addition to leaves, clearing grass out of your flower beds will also help to ensure that your plants remain healthy and get the nutrients they needs. For flower beds, reestablish the bed line by cutting down 2 or 3 inches into the soil along the line you want and then scoop out the area of the flower bed where your lawn has invaded. Maintaining the bed line is especially important in areas where you have planted groundcover plants such as dichondra or vinca.  The groundcover plants make it especially difficult to remove the grass without damaging the groundcover, too. All in all, maintaining good water flow away from your house and maintaining the health of your landscaping not only gets your yard gets off to a good start this spring, it can help prevent basement flooding. Free eBook shows how to make a home disaster plan  


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