How do you fix a yard grading problem?

Do you see standing water on your lawn after a drizzle of rain? If so, this is a clear sign of a yard grading problem. Not only are they an eyesore and can cause mosquitoes to multiply in your area, but a poorly sloped yard can cause you to have problems with your foundation.

A negatively graded yard levels the area right into the foundation instead of being away from it. Unfortunately, this causes water to transport itself on the foundation and pool around the area, causing issues with it and damaging its structure.

What can you do about negative grading? Is it a lost cause? Luckily, poor grading work can be fixable. With the right set of tools, time, and patience, you can transform your yard (and prevent drainage issues) by correcting the existing problems. Negative grading is often fixed by either building up the soil around the foundation or removing some of them. Choosing one of the two options allows your yard to level out and, when done properly, have a positive grade.

Before anything else, let's talk about the two types of grading

To understand how to fix an improperly graded yard, we should know more about positive and negative grading.

  • Negative grading

As said earlier, negative grading is bad as it allows water towards your home. Properties that have a negative grading direct water from the rain and sprinklers into your foundation.

Negative grading is far from being optimal. Hence, once your yard is negatively graded, it is advised to get down to the bottom of the issue before it causes a more expensive problem to fix.

  • Positive grading

On the other hand, positive grading is good as it allows water to travel away from your foundation and into the designated drainage system. This can be a French drain or any other system where water can seep down instead of pooling around your foundation.

Contrary to popular belief, a positive grade does not always mean that the yard is level. Instead, the optimal condition is for the yard to ‘slope’. This means that there is a rise level and a run level that gets the water away from your building. For many instances, a positive grading is what we always plan to achieve.

Now that we already know the differences between a positive grade to a negative land grade, it is time to try and fix the issue.

Fixing a yard with poor grading

excavator digs a trench in a residential area

Making adjustments to your landscaping is possible by using some tools. Two of the best fixes to re-grade a yard lies in the adding or removal of soil around the area.

Raising the soil around your property

For many circumstances, adding more soil around your area and your foundation can fix the grading problem in your yard. For this method, you may need to purchase topsoil which you can get for cheap at any hardware store. If you already have an abundance of topsoil in your area, then there is no need to purchase them anymore. Just get some, load it into a wheelbarrow, and follow the steps below:

Step 1: Remove the plants or debris around the area

Before starting the re-grading process, it would be best to remove the debris that may slow down your progress. This can be anything from your grass, flower beds, and other landscaping items. Make sure to remove your plants gently so that you can replant them after completing the re-grading. 

Step 2: Fill topsoil around your foundation

Shovel topsoil around your foundation and scatter them evenly. If you are regrading a particularly big area, it may be easier to dump down the soil in a particular space. and just work your way around the area.

Step 3: Pack the soil down

Use a rake and a compactor to pack the soil down. Make sure to slope the angle of the soil according to the recommended grade, which is at least 8 inches of a lift sloping downwards.

foundation excavation project in colordao springs

Step 4: Add more soil when necessary

Add more topsoil around your foundation. Just remember: the highest point or the rise of the soil should start from your foundation and should ideally slope downwards. This allows the water to travel accordingly.

Step 5: Level the area

Use a compactor to pack in your soil. You can also stomp on a surface such as plywood to compact the slope properly and prevent erosion. Want to see if your grading is successful? Try pouring a glass of water from your foundation and see where it goes.

Step 6: Replant your grass or plants

Recover your grass or plant new ones on your topsoil.

Which situation this works best: Choose this option if the main problem is due to a sloping issue.

excavation site being worked on in colorado springs

Removing the soil around your property

Aside from adding more soil around the property, removing the soil in certain areas before inserting them in low spots can also solve the grading issue in your yard. By low spots, we are talking about the areas around your property where water usually pools in.

Step 1: Remove the plants or debris around the area

Remove any obstructions in your area for a smoother re-grading process.

Step 2: Assess your yard

Check your yard and see if there are a lot of gaps or bowls in the area. These are the spots you will need to fill with soil later.

Step 3: Remove and refill the low points

Remove the topsoil in areas that have too much of them. Next, find the hollowed areas and fill them with the right amount of topsoil to slope the area. Do not overload with soil as this will also result in a negatively graded yard.

Step 4: Pack the soil down

Use your rake and compactor to pack the soil down. Remember that our aim is for the area to slope downwards.

Step 5: Repeat until all points are covered

Refill all the holes and gaps with topsoil. Make sure that there are no empty spots left.

Step 6: Level the area

Compact the topsoil properly. This allows your yard to grade positively and stay that way without eroding after the first storm.

Step 7: Replant your grass or plants

Recover your old landscape and grass. You can plant new ones to make your yard more appealing.

The situation where it works best: Choose this option if your area has a lot of low points.

In order to fix a negatively graded yard, you can either choose to add or remove the soil around your property. But which option should you do? Will either of them work the same way?

If you are unsure about which option to do, this is when a professional assessment can help. Since drainage issues are a very serious problem in a property, experts offer their services to assist homeowners. After the assessment, you will know which option works best for your yard, along with some tips to fix the issue.

Why is it necessary to grade your yard properly?

property grading project in the springs

As mentioned earlier, a negatively graded yard can cause a lot of problems to a homeowner, enough for it to be their worst nightmare. But are there explanations as to why it is important to have a properly graded yard?

What happens if this is not the case? After all, not all properties have a perfectly level lawn. Allow us to satisfy your curiosity and give you some of the reasons why it is crucial for any property to grade their land properly.

A negatively graded yard is bad because:

Reason #1: It causes poor drainage

It is normal for your yard to be wet after a slight drizzle. However, if you notice particular spots that gather water even after a couple of days, then your yard could be graded negatively. Unfortunately, aside from ruining the aesthetics of your property, this will eventually be the cause of poor drainage and even soil erosion.

Reason #2: It causes foundation issues

Once the water in your property does not drain properly, then it will pool in certain areas until the liquid eventually evaporates. Unfortunately, this can take a long while, which is why your foundation will suffer in the process. Structural issues are a very serious matter and may result in unfortunate accidents. Also, they can be very expensive to fix. This is why it would be best to fix grading issues as soon as you see them to prevent bigger problems.

bulldozer moving earth at a project site

Reason #3: It may be the culprit behind your dying landscape

Do you notice the vegetation in your area looking pale, weak, or may appear to be dying? In some cases, this may be the result of poor grading work. This often happens when water is pooling around your flower beds and trees, over-hydrating them in the process. As a result, the grass and plants around the property drown as they get overwatered.

Reason #4: It can encourage mosquitoes to breed in your area

Are you and your family suffering from more mosquito bites than usual? Since the insects breed in standing water, it is possible for the unlevel grading to be causing this to happen. Also, aside from mosquitos, you may see more bugs in your lawn, which could be bad for your lovely plants.

Not sure how to fix the grading yourself?

For some people, fixing the grading of their yard can be just a piece of cake. However, in certain situations, the task of grading a yard effectively can be more complicated and difficult. Especially when you do not have the necessary tools and time to fix the issue, calling for help will be your best bet.

If you want professional assistance, you can always call a landscaping company to help you. Of course, you need to make sure that you are hiring a contractor that specializes in yard grading. Not only will you save yourself from the trouble of renting heavy equipment, but you can also be confident that they know exactly what they are doing. As long as you hired a reliable contractor, your foundation will surely last longer, thanks to their service.