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Land Grading: The Ultimate Guide

If you own property that you are wanting to build on someday, or you own a home with horrible drainage issues, then keep reading.

Today we are discussing land grading and why this is important to you as a property owner.  

What is land grading?

Grading simply means making the ground level usually in preparation for new construction. 

The same is done for property owners who are experiencing negative drainage, meaning water that flows toward a structure instead of away from it. 

The slope of the land will be surveyed and will dictate how to level the ground by a specific grade percentage.

Grading Land to Protect Your Foundation

When the property has negative drainage it will cause pools of water around your foundation wall. The weight of the water presses against the foundation and creates cracks and structural damage.

Standing water not only threatens your foundation but landscaping vegetation too.

Another sign of negative drainage is when you see pooling or flooded spots on your property. 

This can damage your landscape and also makes the perfect conditions for a mosquito breeding ground, which is not pleasant. 

Throw on Your Galoshes

After a rainfall, do a search around your property to see where water may be pooling. Include the garden, paved areas, and around any other structures, like a shed or pool in your search. 

Positive drainage should be implemented with an accurate slope causing standing water to flow toward the designed drainage system. 

Your neighbors will thank you

Improper grading could lead to flooding in adjacent properties that YOU can be held liable for.

Are you noticing that water is not draining properly from your property? 

Before any more damage occurs have your yard assessed for the best plan of action. Start leveling backyard and front yard areas right away to protect your house. 

How to Grade Your Yard

To fix minor areas of your yard that are susceptible to standing water, you can try these steps. 

See if they fix the issue before having to call a professional excavation contractor. 

For minor adjustments, a dirt rake may be all that is required. For areas needing more dirt, earth-moving equipment can be rented to help save time.

The max slope should not exceed 12”, if it does, then building a retaining wall to support the slope is recommended.   

It is important to consider if you will be planting sod or laying any seed down for regrowth over the soil where you are leveling. If so, reduce the topsoil by 1” to account for the regrowth.

Fixing the problem areas

After you have done a search to mark the areas in your yard with poor drainage – let’s get to work to fix them.

Here is an idea of the steps you may have to take. These will vary depending on the severity of the drainage issues:

  1. Remove 2” of the topsoil from these areas. Using dirt that you collected from higher parts of your yard, mix this in with the resurfaced dirt at the problem areas. 
  1. With the two soils mixed, continue to cover the area with another 4” of dirt. This should do the trick to stop the pooling.
  1. For larger problem areas or for yards that require a lot of dirt to be moved and regraded, it is highly advised to call an excavation company to make sure the re-grading is done accurately the first time.

Land Grading for a New Construction Project

Most qualified construction contractors know that the initial grading work will set the tone for the rest of the new project. 

Here are some very important steps to consider in this process:

  1. Use a pro

Have a professional topographic survey taken to establish a plan.

  1. Always work in the dry season

If you are working in an area with a wet season, grading should be done when it is dry to avoid runoff and costly return visits.

  1. Create a buffer

When you level a slope, it is advised to leave a “buffer zone” of vegetation to prevent soil erosion from the edges of your property. 

  1. Save time and money – recycle 

The piles of dirt gathered from the grading process can most likely be recycled and used to form the slope that is needed. 

  1. Backfill it right

The backfill in this step is very important. The foundation wall should be visible by 6-8”.

Too much wall showing above the dirt line will create moisture problems. Too little wall showing with too much dirt makes the foundation more accessible to termites.

  1. Check regulations

The property you are prepping may require you to follow specific grading regulations.

Following these steps will help you protect your property.

Landscaping Done Right

Whether you need to install irrigation or simply smooth out your yard for a nicer landscape, proper land grading will make sure the future of your land is bright. 

Landscape grading removes the topsoil to help create the right slope. It’s not only functional but aesthetic as well. 

Once graded, the whole appearance of your property can completely change! 

You’ll love the final, completed look once the topsoil has been smoothed and leveled out.

Hire An Expert

Do you have more questions about a land grading project or how to best protect your property? 

Leave us a note below. We would love to hear from you!

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