Practical Landscaping Considerations

March 16, 2021 (Reston, Virginia)

Whether you’re planning a major landscaping project or a little spring rejuvenation, we offer a few planning tips to protect your home and grounds and help your landscape thrive.

Check/Re-establish the slope before planting near your home. The ground should slope down about 1 inch per foot for the first 6 feet, with a continued slope for about 10 feet from the foundation. If you don’t correct any slope issues, plants can increase moisture and cause eventual foundation issues.

Avoid planting too close to foundations. Plant contact can damage siding, roof, or trim. Plants hold onto moisture and increase exterior deterioration and attract unwanted bugs and pests.

Plant trees away from structures and hardscaping. Roots can cause structural damage, harm plumbing, and create heaving in walkways and driveways. Keep large or deep rooted trees at least 15-20 feet from your home and other structures.

Leave space between plantings and walkways, especially for hedges and bigger plants, so people can navigate safely.

Factor in mature plant size. Leave room to wash windows, use a ladder, and perform maintenance without damaging your landscaping.
• Plant shrubs at least half the distance of their mature width from any structure.
• Mature plants shouldn’t exceed the height of the roof’s eaves, because they can damage gutters.
• Plants need proper spacing for airflow and light.

Plant big to small. Plant trees first, then shrubs, followed by perennials, and ground cover. This helps you balance the overall design and avoids damaging or moving plantings to accommodate a shrub or tree.

Be careful about letting ivy or other vines grow on your home. They can damage bricks or masonry that have any cracks or crevices, as well as wood, stucco, and even vinyl siding.
• They may also cause moisture issues for older homes.
• Keep them away from dry-stacked walls, wooden fences, shakes, stucco, and painted surfaces.

Choose plants for your climate and light. Observe the future planting area before planning landscaping. How much light and water does it get? Native species tend to work well. You can also check what plants thrive in your neighborhood, particularly in yards with the same orientation to the sun as yours.

Avoid invasive species, which can take over your yard and escape to squeeze out native plants. Many popular plants are considered invasive, including exotic bamboos, daylilies, wisteria, periwinkle, English ivy, mimosa trees, and Bradford pears. The National Park Service and Fish and Wildlife Service provide a guide to invasive species in our region.

About Gulick Group, Inc.: Established in 1987, Reston-based Gulick Group has developed communities throughout Fairfax and Loudoun Counties, including One Cameron Place and Newport Shores in Reston, The Reserve in McLean, Autumn Wood, Grovemont, and the three Riverbend Communities in Great Falls, Red Cedar West in Leesburg, and Wild Meadow in Ashburn.