How to Landscape to Promote a Healthy House

healthy and safe landscaping ideas for your home

When the early months of summer hit it seems like everyone is making some sort of change to their yard.  Whether it be adding a few flowers or doing some major landscaping, most houses can benefit from a little TLC in the yard department. Many homeowners aren’t aware of the fact that the choices they make on the outside of their home can play a huge role on the overall health on the inside of their home as well.  I’ve also found that a home with great outdoor spaces encourages those living their to get outside and breathe fresh air. Being outdoors is so important to our overall health. Typically, the average person spends about 80% – 90% of their time indoors never giving their body a break from the indoor toxins it’s surrounded by.  But when you take time away from those indoor toxins and get outside, the body has a little time to recuperate and begin to heal.

If you walk down the home and garden aisles at the hardware store, you know that there are more landscaping ideas than you’d ever know what to do with.  When it comes to a healthy house, inside and out, there are some choices that rank higher when it comes to landscaping.

GRADING

positive grading diagram


Grading is one of the biggest ways we can either improve our indoor air quality or completely ruin it.  Grading is the soil and ground around your house that comes into contact with your foundation. The soil should always be sloped away from the house.  When it’s sloped away from your house, any rain, snow or water that falls from your roof will drain away from the foundation. When grading is sloped toward the house (this is called negative grading), the water travels down towards the foundation and causes problems with water leaking in or damage to the foundation itself.

Landscaping rocks are a great choice for keeping positive grading around the house.  Plus, rocks aren’t something that need to be maintained every single year. You can also use a well draining soil around the home to improve the grading.

Make sure you don’t have gardens and woodchips, mulch or any other material that holds moisture next to the home’s foundation.  This will cause extra moisture near the home as well.



FERTILIZERS & LAWN TREATMENTS

While a green, green lawn is often the envy of the neighborhood, there’s a price to pay for using chemical fertilizers and lawn treatments in your yard.  These chemicals are not only airborne for a period of time outside, but can also be brought into the house if there is an open window or if there is an air to air exchanger.

But what’s worse is that the chemicals don’t allow your your lawn to be a safe and healthy space for play and entertaining.  The chemicals turn the space into an unhealthy and unsafe environment. Plus, our shoes and feet pick up the chemicals and track them into the house.  Once inside these chemicals end up everywhere, including our house dust.

But there are some great alternatives to chemical treatments.  There are even companies that specialize in organic lawn treatments.  If you get my weekly tips and newsletters, you saw that a few weeks ago I included a list of the top organic lawn treatments you can apply yourself.  

If you’re more of a DIY and save money type, this blog post will give you a run down of all the healthy and inexpensive ways you can help keep your lawn green and weed free.

TREES

benefits of adding trees to your lawn and property

If you have trees surrounding your house your have a major benefit to the outdoor spaces right off the bat.  Trees are an amazing tool when it comes to landscaping. And although they can be pricey to add to your yard, you can sometimes hunt for a good deal at a nursery or even check out some reputable through classifieds on craigslist or facebook marketplace.

Trees are incredible for so many reasons, but first and foremost, they actually absorb VOCs from the air.  While outside this may not be a huge concern, every little bit helps and if you have your windows open a lot, it means you’re getting fresher air than if you you had no trees.

Trees also help absorb moisture in your yard.  Depending on where you live, you may find that trying to keep the lawn dried out is a challenge.  Trees, especially newer trees with growing and developing roots, can really use a lot of the moisture in your yard.  

Depending on what kind of tree you choose and what kind of climate you live in, you can place trees strategically around your home to help prevent energy loss.  Trees that are tall enough can block direct sunlight from your home and keep it cool in the summer. If it’s a deciduous tree, it can still allow the sunlight to heat up your home in the winter.  Many people forget this, but it truly can save you a decent amount of money in cooling costs if you plan out where your tree goes.

Trees are also a great way to add privacy and block noise pollution from your yard and home.  


RAIN BARREL

While this isn’t necessarily a landscaping tip, rain barrels are a great addition to your landscaping efforts and it’s a great way to save money in addition.  Unless you have a well, chances are you pay a pretty penny for any water you use. Rain barrels can help you conserve the water you pay for and utilize God’s gift of rain.  Rain barrels are self-sustaining, and there’s very little you need to do once you have one.

The ideal placement is underneath a gutter so you can collect more rain and water.  An added bonus to having a rain barrel is that you’ll be keeping water away from your foundation and rerouting it to areas of your lawn that may need a drink of water more frequently, such as a vegetable garden.

GARDENS

Gardens, especially vegetable or herb gardens are a great addition to any healthy house.   If you have the chance to start these plants from seed indoors before planting them outside you’ll not only save a lot of money, but you’ll also have the pleasure of watching them grow from seed, which is quite amazing.  My girls and I have loved watching plants grow from tiny seeds to large plants that produce vegetables to enjoy around the table.

A few things to remember when it comes to planting gardens of any kind around the house is to avoid direct contact with the house or foundation.  Keep garden areas a distance away as they hold a lot of moisture and can accelerate negative grading around the house.

You’ll also want to keep your lawn and garden regime as organic as possible.  Try not to use chemical pesticides or fertilizers as gardens usually have elements we ingest or bring in our home.  You can find more information on organic gardening here.

OUTDOOR LIVING SPACE

If you have the option to create an outdoor living or entertaining space, I highly recommend this.  A comfortable space outside means you’re more likely to spend time outdoors with fresh air. It’s especially nice if you can create this outdoor living space directly outside of a patio door or sliding door.  When this is the case, you can easily leave the door open to leave the two spaces connected, allowing plenty of that beautiful fresh air into your home.

Getting outdoors as much as you can is important so that the body can have a break from the toxins it encounters indoors.  Toxins have a tendency to build up within the body the more we come into contact with them. When the body can have a break from these indoor toxins and get outside, it is given a chance to heal and recuperate from these toxins.

There are many ways you can incorporate an outdoor living space into your landscaping design.  
An outdoor dining area is a nice touch and allows you to be outside if you’re entertaining as well.  Another option is an outdoor living room with comfortable chairs and seating. You could also create a space for an outdoor fire pit if you’re in an area that allows this.

Make sure to make this space comfortable and attractive so you’ll be more likely to spend time here.  Lights and flowers can help create a beautiful space.

LAWN AERATION

The final tip is to aerate your lawn at least once a year.  This little tip is often forgotten, but it can do wonders for your lawn and landscaping.  It not only promotes natural growth, but it also creates better drainage so your lawn utilizes moisture instead of holding on to it. It also helps break up microbe nests and can prevent pest problems within the lawn.  You can do it yourself with a simple tool from the hardware store, or you can hire a company to complete this task for you. Either way, it’s a great maintenance tip for a healthy lawn.

BONUS: If you have underground sprinklers or even if you put your own sprinkler out and move it around, be sure it’s never pointed at or spraying your home.  This can create a huge moisture problem inside and in turn cause even more damage due to mold and mildew around the basement or foundation. It can also damage any wood siding or trim when left over a few sprinkling sessions.  Make sure the heads are pointed away from the house and if you do use a sprinkling system, be sure that you are using the “sensing” mode so you don’t over-water.

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