A Home Buyer’s Guide to Preventing Costly Landscaping Issues

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    It’s exciting to find a home you can imagine yourself living in. But, before you fall in love, we strongly suggest you take a look at the landscaping, especially the drainage, foundation and trees, to determine if your new home has some issues that may be costly to fix. Here’s our guide on what to look for in your new home from a landscape perspective. Keep in mind that landscape issues, especially drainage, can affect the whole home and cost thousands to fix. It’s best to find these problems right away.

    Tips to Identify Drainage Issues Outdoors

    Drainage issues can destroy the foundation of your home and cause other problems. Here are some tips to spot them:

    1. Sloping land: If the land slopes towards the home anywhere, water will run down it towards the home. We’ve seen homeowners spend six figures building retaining walls and swales to divert water away from their home.
    2. Under decks: Check to see if there is a sign of water intrusion beneath any decks.
    3. Downspouts: Do the downspouts have a way to drain away from the home? Or does a slope or barrier prevent it?
    4. Wet spots: Sometimes you can tell if there are permanent wet spots in the yard. Unfortunately, natural springs are common in our area, and if your property has one it may cause significant issues in the future. Do not build a patio or other structure on a natural spring!
    5. Windows: Do the window wells show any sign of retaining water? If so, the property may need grading or water table management.
    6. Property location: Is the property at the bottom of a sloped street or positioned below neighbors? Water from other properties may then run into yours and they have no legal responsibility to prevent this run-off.

    Consider Privacy

    Is the property currently as private as you would like? If you’re within viewing distance of neighbors be sure that you have hedges, screens, or other privacy elements. Also, be sure that those elements are on your property, not your neighbors. Otherwise, if your neighbor decides to take them down, your property will be exposed. They may not even have a choice, sometimes hedges and trees get sick. So, the only way to truly control your own privacy elements is to have the privacy elements on your side of the property line.

    Landscaping Can Hide Property Issues

    If the property you’re considering has large landscaping elements, like trees and decks, they may be hiding property issues. Check under and behind large plants, especially along the foundation to be sure they aren’t hiding cracks or other issues. Also, ensure that mulch has not been allowed to build up onto the siding, as it can cause rotting issues.

    Tree Health is a Concern

    You should carefully assess the health of each tree on the property. Healthy trees add a lot of value to the property, from shade to wind protection, and maybe even a spot for a treehouse. Sick trees, on the other hand, are a serious liability. If your trees fall on your home or your neighbor’s home, you will likely be held responsible for the damage. Trees can also collapse sewage pipes, create foundation problems, and other property issues. It may be a good idea to walk the property with an arborist, or a tree specialist, who can assess the health of trees and determine if they are far enough away from the sewers and any structures. Tree removal can be expensive, so you may not want to purchase a home that needs several trees removed. However, you can always ask for a reduction in price based on the cost of removing the trees.

    Take Stock of Outdoor Living Spaces

    Outdoor living spaces can be one of the most enjoyable, well-loved areas of a home. If your potential home has an existing outdoor space, you should investigate its structure. Be sure the deck or patio is level, not separating or cracking, and not sloped towards the home. If there is an outdoor kitchen, find out if each element is working and properly weather-proof.

    If the home is a blank slate or has only a few of the features you want, you have the opportunity to create a new outdoor space just the way you like it.

    Are you ready to create your dream outdoor living space or landscape in your new property? The High Prairie Outdoors can help you design, build and maintain your ideal landscape. Get started today.

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    About The Author

    Robyn is a 2009 Graduate of the Kansas State University Department of Horticulture. She grew up in South East Kansas where she graduated from Humboldt High School. She was a Kansas State University Leadership Scholar and President of the Horticulture Club. She married Bret in 2009 and they have a daughter Ellie, born in 2021. Their family is completed by three adopted dogs.

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