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The effects of planting grass next to stucco

April 12th, 2023 by  Jewel Ocampo in Features

When you’re deciding what you want your dream backyard to look like it’s a good idea to consider how stages of your project will work with your home. For instance, adding real grass to your new yard is a great idea, some fresh cut turf will add a refreshing touch of greenery to your personal oasis out in the El Paso Desert. However, grass, just like all plants needs to be watered ten times more often than other outdoor plants. Often the sprinkler systems used to water our lawns pose the risk of water damage to stucco homes and the surrounding rock walls or fences.

Stucco is one of several types of cladding or siding used for the outermost layer of a house or building to provide detail toward the end of its construction by isolating structural elements. It is one of the most popular building materials used in El Paso, and in most other dry climates, known for its affordability and minimal maintenance. Although frequently used it does have its disadvantages, such as its difficulty to repair.

Stucco as a building material is designed to be resilient and long lasting with proper upkeep however it is also designed to be rather absorbent putting the material at risk of several types of water damage, for example:

  • Wicking: When stucco is in direct contact with concrete or dirt on the ground and the present moisture is absorbed.
  • Hydraulic Pressure: When water moves from behind the stucco to the surface
  • Surface Moisture: When water sits on the surface of stucco and does not dry properly.

One of the first things that GoDesigns has noticed is that surprisingly, many of the homes here in the El Paso desert have wall to wall grass. Constant exposure to water from rain or sprinkler systems can cause heavy water damage as the sitting moisture begins to oversaturate the stucco cladding and eventually cause the house structure and other building materials beneath to become waterlogged. Even roofs with clogged or absent rain gutters can contribute to water damage such as this. Water damage, if left for prolonged periods of time may also create leaks and the stucco itself will eventually begin to come apart, water damage can even lead to the growth of mold.

In the first and second phase of this GoDesigns project, grass along the stucco is replaced with arroyo rock and stepping stones to eliminate further damage to the home.  A kiddie fence surrounding the client’s existing pool was also added for safety. Future phases could include stucco repair and paint.