Let it Rain! Landscaping Tips to Help Prevent Flooding

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Let it Rain! Landscaping Tips to Help Prevent Flooding

Carl McDowell of Canada Waterproofers has seen many homeowners over the years spend thousands of dollars because of flood damage, with precious personal possessions being washed away forever.

With climate change comes more extreme weather in Canada – especially more rainfall. For homeowners, the risk of a basement flood keeps rising with the rainfall levels. The same issue comes up when the snow melts.

Moisture is the enemy to any home, sparing no part of it. That includes bricks, timber, floors, block structures, not to mention a finished basement.

Flooding can also be a danger to your health, especially water that backs up from a sewer. Tara Valley of Environmental Services Group Inc. in Toronto says homeowners are concerned more about mould. Mould can cause throat, lung, eye and skin irritations.

Waterproofing through landscaping

McDowell says the best defence is a good offence.

“Ninety-per-cent of waterproofing is keeping water away from the house,” McDowell says. If there is a lot of rain, the ground can only absorb so much water. That extra water has to go somewhere, and you don’t want it leaking into your home!

Landscaping your property the right away can help with that. Both McDowell and Valley point to several helpful tips when it comes to the yard or garden. These will better protect you and your home:

Landscaping Dos

  • Do try to slope the ground away from the foundation of your home – a good six to 10 feet. That way water will flow away from your house rather than towards it.
  • Do install a hard surface, like asphalt or patio stones, next to the home. You need to keep water as far away from the house as you can.
  • Do plant natural grasses, as well as native plants, trees and bushes around your home. Because they tend to have longer roots, you don’t need to water them as much. Plus, they usually can handle it if a big rainstorm occurs. Plants with shallower roots can get damaged if they sit in water for too long. You need to plant those ones in areas that drain well.
  • Do consider putting in a rain garden, which has a deeper area built in to collect and absorb water. It can turn what might have been a flooded backyard into a beautiful landscape.
  • Do keep your lawn healthy and don’t cut the grass too short. The deeper the roots are to absorb water, the less chance of flooding
  • Do point rain spouts to where you want water to go, such as toward vegetation that can absorb a lot of water
  • Do make sure that during the winter snow is removed away from the home’s foundation
  • Do know if your property is at risk for flooding. You can go to the government’s Flood Damage Reduction Program to learn what makes areas more likely to see a flood
Rain Garden
Rain gardens can help divert excess water away from your basement and foundation.

Landscaping Don’ts

  • Don’t plant a garden right up against the home’s exterior walls as it will absorb more water. Many of us like to use the hose more often on a garden. That will put more water pressure on the foundation walls of your house
  • Don’t let water from sprinklers hit the home
  • Don’t install too much interlocking brick, for example, since the water has nowhere to go
  • If you are using mulch (which will help soak up moisture), don’t take it all the way to the house. Water from the mulch can rot the siding if it’s too close. Make sure there is some space. Don’t use mulch that is too light as a flood will spread light chips and possibly clog drains or window wells

You can read more about protecting your home from flooding and being prepared for extreme weather events in other articles on the GOOD HANDS® Blog.

Keep in mind, standard home insurance policies likely won’t cover flooding from a lot of rain. Waterproofing your home and landscaping your property the right way are important steps. Water coverage insurance that goes beyond standard policies will give you that extra layer of protection. Talk to your insurance agent to go over your current policy and see if extra coverage is available where you live.