Make your backyard work for you this sum­mer

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - By Mike Holmes

WE’RE head­ing full force into sum­mer, and for many of us, our idea of a great sum­mer starts with a great backyard. But more than just a place to have some drinks, en­joy time with the kids and friends, it’s im­por­tant that your backyard works for you — by that I mean it helps pro­tect your home and save you money. What’s the first thing we look at when check­ing out a backyard? Grad­ing — that’s the slope of the prop­erty sur­round­ing the house that helps di­rect wa­ter away from the foun­da­tion, not to­ward it. This helps pro­tect against base­ment leaks. For ev­ery 30 cen­time­tres away from the foun­da­tion wall, the ground should drop at least one cen­time­tre. So over a two me­tre span you should have at least a 7-cm drop. If you ever want to test it you can do a hose test. Get your gar­den hose and point it hor­i­zon­tal to your foun­da­tion wall, about 12 cm away. Turn the hose on and as the wa­ter’s run­ning, check to see the di­rec­tion the wa­ter flows. It’s a quick way to make sure wa­ter is mov­ing away from your home. That’s also why I don’t like plants and shrubs right up against the foun­da­tion wall. Ev­ery time you wa­ter them you are driv­ing wa­ter di­rectly to your foun­da­tion. Any tiny cracks will al­low wa­ter to pen­e­trate through, and if your base­ment is fin­ished this can be an ex­pen­sive fix. Shrubs against your foun­da­tion wall and ex­te­rior can also trap mois­ture against your home’s ex­te­rior when they get big­ger, which could lead seek out wa­ter), and then they can grow into the pipe it­self, caus­ing a block­age and po­ten­tially a sewer back up in the base­ment. It’s one thing to pro­tect your home, but it’s also im­por­tant to make it work ef­fi­ciently. One way is by help­ing block out heat so you don’t have to crank up the air con­di­tion­ing as of­ten (which saves you money), and there are a cou­ple of backyard projects that can help do that. As I men­tioned be­fore, you can strate­gi­cally plant trees around your home to block out the heat (not too close) but you can also in­stall awnings on your win­dows. Awnings are an old-school so­lu­tion that can re­duce heat gain by about 55 to 77 per cent. In some ar­eas, awnings can save home­own­ers as much as 25 per cent on their energy bills. You could also hire a pro to build a per­gola on the sunny side of your house. Per­go­las are those wooden ex­te­rior struc­tures, usu­ally in the backyard against the house, that have ver­ti­cal posts sup­port­ing large cross­beams and joists. If the per­gola is free-stand­ing it usu­ally has four sup­port posts. If it’s built off the side of a house it will have two. Per­go­las are great be­cause they can help block out the heat and cut cool­ing costs, and they look good too. Your backyard should be your sanc­tu­ary; the place where you can kick back and re­lax. But to do it right you have to plan it right, be­cause what you do on the out­side of your home will al­ways have an im­pact in­doors.

Watch Mike Holmes on Holmes Makes It Right on HGTV

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