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Yard and Soil Grading

Proper yard and soil grading can stop water from accumulating on the yard and hurting your foundation.

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Soil grading is an afterthought for many homeowners. Almost no one thinks of grading until there is a downpour and water starts pooling around their foundation. That’s when they swing into action to correct the problem. Don’t develop a wait-and-see attitude regarding your land’s grading. It’s going to cost you dearly. 

So, when should you regrade the yard? Do you have negative or positive grading? Read on to find answers to these common questions. 

What Is Yard Grading? 

Grading refers to how the soil around your home rises and falls. The best way to think of grading is through the lens of the sea level. One part of your home is below sea level while the other is above it. The same goes for different sections of your yard. 

Some homes in Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. are built on the lowest sections of the yard, and others on the highest. Home inspectors usually refer to a home’s grading as either negative or positive. Let’s take a deeper look. 

Positive grading: Yards with a positive grade are typically built at the highest point of the land. What this means is that the rest of the yard slopes away from the home and the foundation. When the home has a positive grading, it’s generally safe from flooding. 

Negative grading: In this case, the home rests on a lower grade than the rest of the land. When there’s a downpour or melt-off, water will flow towards the foundation and not away from it. Homes with negative grading are susceptible to basement or crawl space flooding and water problems. 

Signs of Poor Grading 

Sometimes, it’s not easy to differentiate between poor grading and an oversaturated lawn. If you notice any of these signs, you have a negative grading: 

Soggy soil: When the soil around your home has excess water, water will seep up whenever you walk across the yard. The soil will also have a sponge-like feel instead of being solid.  

Drainage issues: Your basement or crawl space will get damp if the house sits at a negative grade. Puddles may also form in the yard. 

Mosquitoes: An influx of mosquitoes is an indication you have standing water around your home and a negative grading could be the cause. 

Rotting grass: Too much water on your lawn will cause the grass to start decaying. You will be left with a patch of rotting grass. 

Do You Need to Regrade Your Land? 

Well, that depends on the slope gradient of your land. If the yard slopes by six inches or more, you have a fantastic slope and are safe. So, you won’t need to regrade your land. If it’s not, you will have to regrade to avert drainage issues. You can do this by adding fill around your home’s perimeter and tamping it down. Once you’re done, check to see if you’ve attained the desired gradient. 

Determining Your Slope Level 

Before the spring rains arrive, you want to make sure you have the right grading. A simple check can help you determine whether the slope is adequate or needs to be regraded.  

Here is how you can measure your yard’s grading: 

  • Drive a short stake into the ground near your home’s foundation. 
  • Next, tie a string loosely to the stake. 
  • Slide the string down the stake so it rests on the ground. 
  • Measure out 10 feet from the first stake. 
  • Drive another stake in the ground and tie the other end of the string to it, making sure that it is at a 90-degree angle. 
  • Measure the distance from the string on the stake to the ground. 

Is it six inches or more? If yes, great!  

How to Improve Your Lawn’s Grading 

A negative grading doesn’t have to spell doom to your lush lawn or foundation. Landscaping professionals can help improve the grading around your home. 

They will start by installing a catch basin to direct water away from your foundation. It’s a grate-covered piping system that can blend into your landscape, enhancing curb appeal as well. 

Whether melting snow or rainwater, runoffs from the roof can be a source of pain. To deal with either, install gutters and downspouts. If you have a guttering system, keep checking and cleaning it. It will keep water out of your foundation. 

It also pays to waterproof your foundation. Several effective solutions can make all the difference. While these won’t correct negative grading, they will ensure water doesn’t infiltrate your basement or crawl space through a leaky foundation. 

If you’re worried that poor grading can hurt your foundation, talk to the experts at JES Foundation Repair. We’re happy to provide a free waterproofing inspection and quote as well as recommendations to improve your yard’s grading.