Monday, March 8, 2010

Trees - A Balancing Act

As I've posted before, strategic trees are an excellent environmental balance for structures when they're situated correctly. In our changing extremes of client, they're able to stablize soil pressure on house foundations, as well, as described in an article in the New York Times:

“It often happens that you upset the moisture and structural balance when you knock down or tear out trees,” said Mr. Lourie, the geotechnical engineer, adding that planting trees too close to the house can be harmful. “Plant them at least half their mature height away from the house.”

Landscaping should, as a rule, be installed so that water slopes away from the house and gutters should discharge at least five feet from the house to avoid oversaturating the soil. During droughts, experts recommend placing soaker hoses around the perimeter of the house and turning them on for 30 minutes a day. “The idea is to maintain a constant amount of moisture in the soil,” said Tom Witherspoon, a foundation engineer in Dallas. “If you can do that, your house will never move.”