Water is good for trees, shrubs and other plant forms.

It’s not, however, good for your house when your property stays wet and doesn’t drain properly.

“Water is the number one cause of damage to the homes we live in,” says Jamison Brown with AmeriSpec Home Inspection Service in southeastern Virginia.

To protect your home, the soil around the home should slope away from the foundation on all sides.

Typically, the recommended slope is one inch per foot for at least six feet away. This rule of thumb is not always possible for hard surfaces like drives and walks. However, with these surfaces, water can keep moving away from the home even if the slope is less.

With the passage of time, the presence of shrubs and household outdoor pets can result in a change in the slope around the home, says Brown. Homeowners should annually review the ground around the home to ensure the gardening activities, installation of mulch or raised beds have not resulted in a slope, which is pitched toward the home.

If the lot slopes toward a home, a swale, or a shallow ditch, should be installed to prevent surface water from flowing against the foundation. A swale should carry surface water around the home and away on the surface of the soil or to a catch basin that will carry the water via an underground drainage pipe.

The drain can be as simple as a hole dug and filled with rock, or as sophisticated as a system of foundation drains that feed into a sump pump and exterior flow system.

Gutters and downspouts are also important means for getting water away from your home’s foundation, especially when the structure does not have substantial overhang.