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It is important to make sure that the ground slopes away from the foundation of your house. If it is flat or, even worse, sloping down toward the foundation, you will have a leaky or damp basement. You should leave a several-inch gap between the brick or siding and the ground, so do not build it up too high.
Since you will probably damage any landscaping you have at the foundation, try planting some dwarf shrubs near the foundation. These will block the cold winter winds and also help to keep the air near your house cooler in the summer.