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I have a small front yard (20'x20') and a narrow walkway (5') between the front yard and the back yard. Currently the yard and walkway are a mess of dirt, weeds, roots, rocks, cement, and construction debris (and maybe a little bit of grass). Once I clean up the yard and walkway can I plant grass/lay sod right next to the foundation or do I need some sort of bed between the lawn and the cement foundation (the siding of the house is at least 2 feet up from the ground)?

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You can definitely grow grass right up to the foundation - it won't harm your house in any way. That said, there are a few reasons you might not want to do this.

  • First, your mower is unlikely to be able to get the grass right next to the foundation, which means you'll need to take a trimmer around the house every time you mow to get a nice, clean look.
  • Second, your yard is most likely graded to direct water away from the foundation of your house quickly or keep it away altogether, which means the grass right next to the foundation may struggle to get enough water. Dry, brown grass right next to your house is a real possibility; on the bright side, you won't need the string trimmer if the grass is dead.
  • Finally, foundations aren't the most beautiful thing in the world, and you can really soften their look/hide ugly concrete foundations with some nice plantings. You may be happier with the way it looks if you do beds instead of just grass.
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    Excellent points! Be nice to know where they live. The heat given off by concrete will tend to suck up water sooner that the body of the lawn. If they water deeply and then allow to dry out there really won't be a problem. And a line trimmer is essential for any lawn maintenance. I am impressed you could see that a mower will not be able to do all the work near that foundation. I assumed this was just to do something with his yard and the cool thing about sod is it is wonderful to build up beds when he has time to do the plant beds. Learn how to make lawn edges, set radii and all that. – stormy May 24 '17 at 19:42
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You most certainly can lay you sod right up to the foundation. The reason people talk about foundation planting with shrubs is to have a transition between the home and your yard. Those foundation plantings are usually too narrow and too simple to do much for aesthetics/composition anyway.

What you are trying to do right now is the simplest thing you can do to get your yard, albeit small, under control. You can put in plant beds later. But do not try to seed for your lawn crop. It is very affordable to do sod. That sod will stop weed seeds from growing and it sounds like you've got an old yard with tons of seeds as well as perennial weeds.

Have you laid sod before? You do have to prepare a good lawn bed. Most of your labor will be clearing, grading and rolling your lawn bed. Do not skip the rolling! It is helpful to bring in 2 1/2 yards of screened topsoil to spread, grade over your lawn bed. That will give you enough for 2" deep. Roll it with a water filled roller you can rent from the equipment rental store, cheap. Grade again, filling in dips and roll again.

Glad you knew that the siding needs to be a minimum of 4" off that grass/soil. The foundation should have asphalt emulsion painted on the concrete to be between the soil and the foundation. What about your fences? Is there enough space between the bottom and the soil/grass? Do you have a basement or crawl space? We won't worry about that now. You won't be changing anything drastically for your foundation.

After laying the sod (will you be doing the work)? roll that sod as well with the roller. Water shallowly until the sod is rooted to the bed. Then go look up all the information on how to train your grass to be drought tolerant and save water bills, make your crop of grass healthy and keep it healthy. Look up all the question answers on our site. Don't bother with other sites on the internet.

  • There is no asphalt emulsion painted on the 100 year old concrete. Why does a basement matter? We have pretty good drainage in the yard and no moisture issues in the basement (apart from the rain that comes in the broken windows). – StrongBad May 24 '17 at 19:53

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