Restoration Guide: Introduction to Site Work and Landscaping

Shannon Lee

Editor's Note: This is article 1 of 5 in Chapter 9: Site Work of Old House Web's Home Restoration Guide. This guide was developed and edited for old homes from original materials in the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Rehab guide.


Preservation and restoration of an old house doesn't stop at the front door. Site work, including porches, decks, driveways, walkways, and even landscaping is an integral step when turning that old house into a restoration masterpiece. This section focuses on these aspects of home restoration.

The nine-part guide by Old House Web is an effort to offer reliable, relevant information to those who are looking to preserve and restore existing homes. The information is helpful for engineers, architects, builders, suppliers, homeowners, and others who focus on the restoration of old houses.

This guide on Site Work and Landscaping includes the following table of contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. Wood Decks/Porches and Fences
  3. Paved Driveways, Walks, Patios, and Masonry Walls
  4. Underground Construction
  5. Landscaping

What to Expect from the Site Work Guide:

The four primary sections of the Site Work Guide cover the following topics:

  • The section about Wood Decks/Porches and Fences tells you how to inspect the structures, repair moisture-damaged columns, boards, and joists, and stabilize rotting wood with epoxy. The section includes information about decking materials for repair and replacement, as well as up-to-date information on preservative treated wood, stairs and handrails, wood fences, and retaining walls.
  • The Paved Driveways, Walks, Patios, and Masonry Walls section discusses the essential knowledge, materials, techniques, and tools necessary to seal and maintain asphalt and concrete. This section of the guide also delves into topics like masonry walls, including resurfacing, repointing, and other repair techniques.
  • Underground Construction begins with an examination of wells, including how to remedy poor water quality, correct improperly sized wells, and how to keep old wells safe and secure. The section also includes information about sewer lines, septic tanks, water lines, and underground storage tanks.
  • Landscaping discusses problems common to an old house, such as trees that have grown too close to the home, branches that need to be cut from the tree, and shrubs and trees that might be in the way during home restoration work. The section finishes with information about how to best use trees and shrubs for energy-efficiency and sustainability that can help you follow energy savers guidelines from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Resources Used for the Site Work Guide

Proven quality sources for the Site Work guide include manufacturers and suppliers of technology, materials, and tools used in old house preservation work. Trade shows, conferences, reports, trade publications, research centers, and professionals who are fully entrenched in the rehabilitation field also contributed to the Site Work guide.

Much of the material in the rehab guide was gleaned from the following publications:

  • E-Build
  • Energy Efficient and Environmental Landscaping
  • Environmental Building News
  • Fine Homebuilding
  • Journal of Light Construction
  • Landscaping with Native Trees
  • Old-House Journal
  • The Builder's Graywater Guide
  • This Old House
  • Traditional Builder

This guide was developed from information contained in the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Rehab Guide. Visit for more information.



About the Author

Shannon Dauphin is a freelance writer based near Nashville, Tennessee. Her house was built in 1901, so home repair and renovation have become her hobbies.

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