Foundation perimeter

I am re-landscaping my yard and would like to remove the ugly stone that surrounds my homes foundation. The house does not have a basement, so the foundation is ground level, but I am concerned about using the correct material since our area is moist and drainage is not always great. Under the old stones that I am removing is a plastic membrane (I suspect to keep out water and stop roots from breaking the surface. I have a few questions about what I would like to do.
I expect to use a gravel to re-cover the area and I my thoughts were that I skim off about 2 inches of soil, place in the new plastic membrane and top with gravel I should be good.
1. What materials are best to use to surround the house(if not gravel)? 2.Can I use any type of membrane? and how deep under the gravel should it be? 3.How deep should I dig down next to the foundation should I dig to remove the dirt that is currently there? Do I need to go down to the foundation tar line or should I not dig in at all?
Any other suggestions are appreciated!
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Lava or pumice Sure use all the membrane you need, at least 2 inches Dig down a couple of meters to be sure your membrane is anchored from the Santa Anna winds.
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Thanks for the advice..but I am a little confused....digging 2 meters is not what I had in mind, nor do I think my foundation goes that deep. Perhaps I am using the wrong terminology so I will explain more.
Currently there is the concrete foundation, next to which is a 2 foot wide strip of stone. I dug up that stone and found a layer of plastic, which I think is to stop roots form surfacing and weeds from growing..also to keep water from soaking into the soil. Under the plastic is soil and roots. If I dig a couple of inches of soil up, there is a line on the concrete foundation where the tar starts and continues into the ground (I ecpect this is to stop the concrete from absorbing water). My house is from 1973 so I am not sure if this is how it should have been done, but I would like to replace the plastic layer and the stone only, but I worry that I should be doing more?
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On 24 Feb 2006 15:36:23 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

There are two possible reasons for the gravel mulch and plastic to be there. It's either to get water away from the foundation, (although, since you say there's no cellar, I don't know why anyone would care. Maybe the previous owner was getting water up through the slab?), or it's to keep plant-life and bugs away from the house. You're on a slab, right? Do you know whether you're on clay or something else where water would cause the house to move around and break things? Is this a termite-prone area? Do you have freezing in the winter?
What was your objective in digging up the existing plastic and gravel in the first place? Is the ground level of the yard such that you can't slope the surface away from the house? How much rainfall do you normally get? Are there any nearby low-spots to which you could pipe excess water? How about a dry-well?
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I believe the plastic would be there to carry any water near the foundation away from the foundation. The stone is there to allow the water to reach the plastic(good drainage). I wouldn't remove the stone as it would prevent proper drainage. There may be a way to beautify the area without removal. Maybe cover the stone withgardening fabric and covering that with mulch or colored stone, but I would check with a professional to make sure the drainage wouldn't be effected. As for the other poster I believe he/she was pulling your leg.
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The concrete slab foundation is on mostly solid (mountainside) rock and soil that has been used to level the surface. I do notice a lot of termites in my firewood pile. I dont think the house is shifting much anymore, but I have heard that my house is built on an old lakebed and now an artesian well. We do get freezing here but not a lot...but a ton of rain. The land slopes towards the back of the house, but the dig area is at the side.
I dug up the old rock and plastic as it was starting to look messy and the rocks were larger than fist size, so I would like pebble that I can rake through.
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