Taking Care of Your Lawn During the Midwestern Summer Heat

It’s that time of year again, when summer temperatures creep toward 100 degrees and the kids are out playing in the sprinkler. Summer is also the time to keep your lawn in tip-top shape. Follow these tips to keep up your home’s curb appeal. 

Drainage can be a major issue in the summer, especially after all of the spring rain. David Tamny, president of the American Society of Home Inspectors, says, “In the Midwest, we have a lot of expansive clay soil. Bad drainage around the house can cause foundation problems and basement wetness issues, as well as mold.” 

To avoid these problems, make sure your gutters and grading slope are clear of debris. As part of your gutter maintenance, make sure your downspout extensions are clear and extend far enough away from the house. These minor fixes help prevent further trouble, such as a bowing foundation, which can cost several thousands of dollars to fix. 

Clogged gutters are often a source of a foundation problem. Overflowing gutters send water down to the soil next to the foundation. Saturation of this ground puts pressure on the foundation, causing it to bend and crack. Take a few hours every few months to clean out the gutters. You can use a gutter scoop, your hands, or a garden hose to clean out the gutters. 

While you are out cleaning the gutters, also inspect them for cracks, breaks or poor sloping. Watch for missing gutter pieces that can lead to leaks, again causing overflow and putting the foundation at risk for damages. Look to see if there are specific spots where debris is piling up and remove the cause of the buildup — for example, a screw that has come loose. Gutters sag after time, so when cleaning, make sure the gutter is still sloping in the correct direction. 

Another simple foundation saver is correcting the grade, or slope, of the land around the house. For best results, the slope should move away from the house at a rate of 6 inches per 10 feet. Adding clay to the soil also helps deflect the water from the area. Another option is laying down plastic sheeting attached to the foundation and covering it with soil to protect the ground around the foundation. 

Besides water, another threat to your home is carpenter ants. These insects hatch each spring and invade warm spaces, especially those near wood. Locate any old piles of debris and wood you have lying around your home. If you see the ants themselves or wood shavings, like those from a pencil sharpener, you may have an infestation. If you suspect an infestation, clear the debris pile or area of your home and spray it with insecticide.

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