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8 ft.

level
line

Grading Your Measure 1’


intervals
Yard
Unless your yard has the
proper grade, or slope, rain
water can flow toward the founda-
tion of your house—and possibly into
your basement. An improper grade can
also cause water to collect in low-lying ar-
eas, creating boggy spots where you’ll have
trouble growing grass and other plants. When How to Measure & Establish a Grade
graded correctly, your yard should have a grad-
ual slope away from the house of about 3⁄4" per
horizontal foot.
Although the initial grading of a yard is usually
done by a landscape contractor, you can do the
work yourself to save money. The job is a bit
time-consuming, but it isn’t difficult. Typically,
creating a grade at this stage involves spread-
ing a 4" to 6" layer of topsoil over the yard, then
distributing and smoothing it to slope away from
the house.
Established landscapes often require regrading,
especially if the house has settled. If you find
signs of basement moisture problems or puddle-
prone areas in the yard, you need to correct the
slope. The measuring and grading techniques
featured here will help you remove and distribute
soil as needed.
1alongDrive a stake into the soil at the base of the foun-
dation and another at least 8 ft. out into the yard
a straight line from the first stake. Attach a
Everything You Need
string fitted with a line level to the stakes and level it.
Tools: Basic tools (page 18), line level, grading Measure and flag the string with tape at 1-ft. inter-
rake, stakes, string, tape, hand tamp. vals. Measure down from the string at the tape flags,
Materials: Topsoil. recording your measurements to use as guidelines
for adding or removing soil to create a correct grade.

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2easWorking away from the base of
the house, add soil to low ar-
until they reach the desired
3 Use a hand tamp to lightly
compact the soil. Don’t over-
tamp the soil or it could become
4rocksAfter all the soil is tamped, use
a grading rake to remove any
or clumps. Starting at the
height. Using a garden rake, too dense to grow a healthy lawn foundation, pull the rake in a straight
evenly distribute the soil over a or plants. line down the slope. Dispose of any
small area. Measure down from rocks or construction debris. Re-
the 1-ft. markings as you work to peat the process, working on one
make sure that you are creating a section at a time until the entire
3
⁄4" per 1 ft. pitch. Add and remove area around the house is graded.
soil as needed until soil is evenly
sloped, then move on to the next
area and repeat the process.

Variation: You may want to create some perfectly


level areas for playing lawn sports such as croquet,
badminton, volleyball, and lawn bowling. Level areas
also make safe play surfaces for small children and a
good base for play structures.

Outline the perimeter of the area with evenly placed


stakes. Extend a string fitted with a line level between
a pair of stakes and adjust the string until it’s level. At
2-ft. intervals, measure down from the marked areas
of the string to the ground.

Add and remove topsoil as necessary, distributing it


with a garden rake until the surface under the string
is level. Repeat the process until the entire area is
leveled.

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