Most major foundation movement can be prevented if the moisture level in the soil is maintained. Foundation problems associated with expansive clay are usually caused by a lack of moisture in the soil. As the soil dries, it shrinks and can cause foundation settlement. However, in some instances too much moisture in the soil can cause foundation movement. When the soil absorbs it can cause floor heaving and bowing foundation walls.
The best way to look at your soil is to picture a sponge. When water is squeezed out of a sponge the majority of water is gone, but the sponge is still moist to the touch. The ideal condition for the soil around your home is like that sponge - not wet, not dry, but moist to the touch.
The best way to maintain a consistent moisture level is with a properly regulated automatic sprinkler system. If one of these systems is not an option then the same can be accomplished by placing soaker hoses eighteen inches from the foundation and regulating the water flow to one-fourth inch in height until water is observed standing on the ground. This process should be repeated as often as necessary to maintain the uniform moisture level described above. During hot and dry seasons, you may want to give extra attention to the South and West sides of your home which may require more watering. Take into consideration which sides are shaded and not exposed to as much direct sun.
No amount of structural work on a foundation will overcome poor drainage. Surface water, whether from rain or watering, should not be allowed to accumulate around or under your foundation. Proper drainage may require more dirt to be added along your foundation, downspouts extended and / or splash blocks placed to prevent soil erosion. Be sure soil is at least 2 inches below the perimeter of the foundation. Positive drainage is generally considered to be 1" per foot drop away from the house for the first 6' to 8', and should be maintained throughout the life of the structure. Improper drainage will make it virtually impossible to maintain a consistent moisture level around the perimeter of your home.
Most flowers and small shrubs do not cause foundation problems. Large trees and shrub roots will. These root systems can grow under the foundation, thus causing upheaval. These large trees and shrubs remove tremendous amounts of water from the soil. Ideally trees should be planted far enough away from your home to keep the roots away from your foundation.
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