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Yard & Soil Grading Understood

Yard grading involves landscaping your yard to create a downward slope from your foundation to the rest of the yard. This helps prevent water from pooling up at the foundation and potentially damaging it.

Before you start any grading, measure the current grade and set your goal for the grade you want to achieve. The minimum slope away from your foundation should be two to three inches for every 10 feet to prevent drainage problems.

There are two main types of yard grading:

Positive Grading:

  • If your yard has a positive grading it means that the soil slopes away from your home. Therefore, during rainstorms, the rainwater runoff doesn’t move towards your foundation but away from it.

Negative Grading:

  • If this is the case with your yard, your home sits on a lower grade than the rest of your property. When there is a storm, a flood, or a melt-off, the water flows toward your home and pools around it. Unfortunately, homes with negative grading are susceptible to basement flooding and foundation issues.

Signs of Poor Grading

The easiest way to determine whether your yard has a negative grading is to keep your eyes open for the following signs:

Soggy Soil:

  • Does the soil around your home’s perimeter feel extra soggy? Does it feel more like a sponge instead of solid ground? If so, you might want to check the grading of your yard.

Drainage Issues:

  • If you often notice puddles around your home and your basement often feels moist, especially after a rainstorm, you may have an issue with poor grading.


  • Do you always feel itchy from mosquito bites? Do you have a problem getting rid of them? These insects prefer areas with standing water, so you should check the situation with your yard’s grading.

Rotting Grass:

  • Naturally, grass cannot live without water. However, too much water can drown it, so your green lawn will become a yellow eyesore. If you have a patch of rotting grass around your home, it is possible that the soil on your property is oversaturated.

Do You Need to Regrade Your Yard?

To answer this question, you will need to check the slope gradient of your land. If the angle of the slope goes downward from the foundation and is adequate, you can relax. Otherwise, you will need to regrade your yard to avoid drainage issues. This can be easily done. You will just need to add more soil around your home’s perimeter and tamp it down. Although this can mess up your landscaping, it is far better to regrade your yard in time than to invest in foundation repairs later.

So, how can you determine if your slope level is adequate? It is rather simple, just put a short stake into the ground next to your home’s perimeter and tie a string to it. Slide the string down the stake so it touches the ground. Then walk away from your home and place another stake 10 feet from the first one. Tie the other end of the string to the other stake at a 90-degree angle. As a final step, measure the distance between the string and the ground. If it is more than six inches, your yard is properly graded, then you don’t have to do a thing. If it is less, you will need to regrade it.

This is a very simple test that you should perform before the rainy season, so you can be sure that heavy rains won’t jeopardize the health of your foundation.

How to Improve Your Lawn’s Grading 

Do not worry, having a negatively graded yard is not the end of the world. Contact landscaping professionals in your area and they will help you improve the grading around your home. Since this project involves a lot of planning and preparation, it is best to leave it to the professionals. Contractors will mark the high point of the yard and then locate the low point, which is where water is pooling. Next, they will calculate the slope between the high and the low point and determine the level grade line. By using specialized equipment, contractors will add topsoil to the low points and level the high points to create a positive grade.

Apart from regrading your yard, you should consider investing in gutters and downspouts. These will collect the runoffs from the roof and direct them away from your home’s perimeter. In case you already have a guttering system, make sure that your gutters are always clean and free of obstructions.

Another thing you could do is invest in waterproofing solutions. These methods will protect your foundation and keep it safe from future water damage.

If you are worried that your yard’s grading will lead to foundation problems, contact professionals at Groundworks to schedule a free waterproofing inspection and quote. One of our experts will take a look at your home and suggest suitable waterproofing solutions after a thorough assessment.