Landscaping Foundations Built to Last – Inefficient vs Efficient Foundations
The importance of a strong foundation must not be underestimated. Without it the most beautiful design built with the most expensive materials will eventually sink and collapse.
With over 35 years of landscaping experience, we have developed a method of building foundations that will withstand the test of time.
However, to understand the ingenuity of our method we need to understand the basics of foundation building and 2 of the most common but inefficient methods used by other landscapers…
Inefficient Method 1: Limestone Screening
The most common material used for a base is Limestone Screening or “screening” for short. Screening has been used for many years in the landscape industry as a base for steps and walls. It levels and compacts nicely however it holds water which, because frost causes the ground to heave, can lead to your steps or wall failing during the winter months.
Screening will also get wet if it is not thoroughly compacted. Since it is made of particles ranging from ¼ inch to fine sand, water will easily infiltrate the screening turning it into mush. As a result, the entire structure could sink and fail.
Inefficient Method 2: Granular A and Bedding Sand
Another common method of installing a foundation, this involves excavating 12” and bringing in the Granular A and packing it the same way that screening is done and then applying the bedding sand as a leveling base.
The structure (e.g. steps or wall) is then built directly on top of the compacted bedding sand. This is problematic because the frost line is 3-5’ from the surface grade therefore, the ground beneath the base is subject to frost penetration. This in turn could cause the steps or wall to shift unevenly. Also the sheer weight of the steps themselves (sometimes up to 3000lbs), could cause major settlement with just a granular base.
Finally, a problem with both of these methods is that neither of them provides a unified base for the wall or steps to sit on. This causes the entire structure to settle or heave unevenly. As a result, it will either fail or, if it does stay in place, it will be sink in some spots and heave in others.
Efficient: The Hogan Method
Only the Hogan Method gives you the solid foundation on which your landscape deserves to be built. At Hogan Landscaping when we install steps and walls against a house, we use using concrete, sonotubes and gravel.
First we excavate down 3-5’, which is below the frost line. It is important that the excavation is wide and long enough so that every step is sitting on the same concrete pad. This gives the steps a unified base instead of putting them on gravel where they can shift and settle unevenly.
Once the excavation is complete, we strategically dig sonotube holes down to the footing of the house; this ties the step foundation in with the foundation of the house. Then we fill around the sonotubes with ¾ clear gravel so that water cannot get underneath the steps causing them to heave or sink.
Finally, we fill the sonotubes with concrete and pour a pad over top of them. Only then, after constructing a foundation as strong as your house, do we begin the installation of steps on the concrete pad using a dry pack to build the steps to height.
AT HOGAN LANDSCAPING WE BUILD BEAUTIFUL DESIGNS ON FOUNDATIONS GUARANTEED TO LAST!
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