I have pine bark mulch next to the house foundation. It could be
considered a fire hazard and I would like to replace it with gravel.
Question!!! Should I remove the mulch, lay down plastic and then the
gravel or just lay the plastic over the existing mulch, and then the
gravel or just spread gravel over the existing mulch? Thanks for all
Mulch next to the house is an attractive place for insects and other
invertebrates to live and can pose a hazzard much greater than fire.
Clear away all the mulch, lay down a fabric made for the job and cover with
clean gravel. You might want to dig out about 2-4 in of soil so the gravel
is even with the lawn, if you have one.
No, but that's why I asked the original question.
Everyone has always told me that any dirt abutting a house should be
graded away from the house at the rate of 6" over 6'.
When you suggested he dig 2-4" below the level of the adjoining lawn
(if he has one), I was curious.
What does everyone tell you about gravel?
I removed all the the vegetation from around my house and layed down gravel,
mostly to stop the rain from splattering dirt onto the siding and brick
veneer. I dug down about 2 inches for the gravel so I could mow without
trimming. Here in SE PA we get a fair amount of rain, but not much of it
gets to the gravel bed and what little does is soaked up quickly.
I suspect the OP lives in a drier area since the initial concern was the
fire hazzard of mulch next to the house.
Apparently, the lad doesn't understand the correlation. Granted, not a
usual part of this newsgroup topic. They are inter-related. And important.
1/4" fall on one foot of travel is considered adequate for ordinary
drainage. It is wise to increase the fall as you also have problems with
soaking of the material (soil) carrying the rainfall away from the house.
There is no hard and fast rule. Seems to me it would depend on the soil
type and foliage that covers the soil.
A hard and fast rule regarding drainage around a home is simple. The
moisture level of the soil should be consistent adjoining the foundation.
Excessive moisture and dryness of that soil can undermine the foundation of
the house. Especially if a clay type soil.
Around my house, I have lain down about a 3 foot wide piece of
black plastic, then covered with a small diameter gravel. I use the
thick black vinyl edging on the outside to make a border with the
The black plastic will deteriorate in sunlight, but when covered
rock or gravel it will go for at least two dozen years, since I did
at a previous house 20 years ago and when I moved, the plastic was
still in very good shape.
If you use landscape cloth, the weeds WILL find a way thru, but
controllable. With black plastic, they can only get thru the
seam or hole.
To put shrubs in, I clear out the gravel, and cut the plastic about
foot larger diameter than the diameter of the plant root ball. Then I
put the gravel back on. If I have the landscape fabric handy,
I'll put it around the shrub but if I've run out of it, I don't
bother.... Rain will easily go thru the gravel, and the
black plastic will retain the moisture in the border. I know that
may be those who will disagree with this, but it has worked well for
me for a very long time. Any time I needed to put a shrub in a
new place, the ground under the plastic was ALWAYS moist......
Black plastic is not impermeable, and water will pass thru, but
very very slowy. It make a great "vapor" barrier as well as a
weed barrier.... But, for that reason, you don't want to have a layer
of mulch beneath it since insects, mice, fungus, snakes ---- all
can find a home there, and that's generally undesireable.....
My location is North Texas and the soil has a lot of clay in it.
That may make a difference...
Andy in Eureka, Texas
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