man planting a dwarf shrub to help protect his home's foundation
Photo: Kristine Larsen
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Mildew on Foundation Walls

Potential problem: Overgrown foundation plantings can channel water down exterior walls, leading to mold and sill rot. What's more, roots can work their way into foundation walls and pipes.

Fix it now: Trim shrubs yourself. Better yet, replace them with dwarf varieties that won't be a perpetual pruning headache. In many parts of the country, planting in early fall gives shrubs a head start at establishing roots in the season's cool, moist soil. Save money by shopping end-of-season sales at garden centers or hosting a neighborhood plant swap. "Just be sure that any new shrubs are at least 3 feet from the foundation," says TOH land-scape contractor Roger Cook. "Otherwise they'll keep the siding from being able to breathe."

TOH Tip: The compact variety of Japanese holly pictured grows slowly and densely, making it an ideal choice for foundation plantings.

What you'll save: Between $400 and $2,500 to fix a water-damaged foundation and sill.

DIY: Watch a step-by-step video on giving a new shrub a healthy start.
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