My Cluttered Backyard: Moving Plants Away from the House

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Often during my home inspections, I have to report problems with the structure to a home due to plantings that are next to the home. Why do we stick to the edges of the yard for our gardens? Especially when this causes damage.

Why do we put so much effort into growing grass? Do your children play on it? Do you go outside to picnic in your backyard? And why, if we are so in love with the idea of a lawn, do we then let the grass die by not watering it during a drought?  I have experienced mixed reactions to my garden. Most people who come with their children to play enjoy the backyard.  Others who want to relax in a garden space have been happy to wander through that space. I have a belief  that I should be living in that space. Other neighbors have not been so enamored with my efforts leading to violent reactions or harassment. In the past, I tried to shrug those actions off, but lately I have been bothered by those efforts. I am reflecting on how we use our landscape around our homes. As a home inspector, I see too many problems with how we do treat our plantings, which is to have the garden beds hug the home.

    Where did we come by the idea that the landscaping should bunch up near our homes? This allows pests better access to our houses. Moisture problems can become an issue when we create high garden beds or areas where moisture cannot dry out. Branches scrape the covering materials of walls and roofs. Most of these problems can be corrected by planting smarter. We purchase a small plant which goes into the ground near our home (probably to hide the foundation), but we do not read the tag, which lets us know the dimensions of a mature plant, so the plant pushes against the home. The next problem is care. We water, and we prune the front part of the plant (the public face), but we forget to deal with the hidden parts of the plant, pruning the branches extending towards the house.  That is why I wish to make the argument of letting our garden beds spill out into the yard, away from the structure of the home. Leave a nice mulch near the foundation, but have the plants frolic in the yard. This will rid of us of many of the problems landscaping cause, ad it can reduce our water bills. A mulch spaced does not need water like grass. An established bush does not need water like grass does either. I also think that it makes for a prettier home.
    Returning to my backyard, I wonder why certain neighbors hate it so much. Is it crowded? Yes. I do sometimes desire for a more spacious feel by removing some of the objects. We have a swing set, a trampoline, a tree house, and a teahouse for the children.  We have added a stage as well.  I am not so upset with the loss of lawn when the children go out to play. Would they have played on the lawn? Maybe. If you walk through my neighborhood, you may not realize that some homes contain children. They stay inside, glued to the television or computer. I want the healthy lifestyle for my children, and the objects in the yard encourage them to interact with the space. I do see that this crowded yard can become a problem when selling the home, but I have no such intention. I like the fact that I have a corner where I can read and cook. I like that there is a space to sit by the vegetable garden. I am turning this area into a conversation nook. I have my workspace for art projects, and a workshop/storage area is there for other jobs.
    Is my garden design for others? My neighbors say not, but I want you to think about your landscape. Moving the beds away from the home reduce problems for you, and provides an opportunity to create garden rooms. You may find that parties will spill out into the yard. I have such a joy to see my girls preform on their stage, to follow the flight of birds in the yard, and the lizards scatter as we walk through the garden. I like that my son will have some place to hang out with friends, so they will not need to be in front of the television playing a game. I enjoy the life

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This site came out of my desire to write about my love of gardening, but also to connect it to my knowledge derived from home inspections. That is why I tied it to the home inspection site.If you have questions, you can email them to me (frank at For home inspections, call 713.781.6090.
Happy gardening, Frank


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