DIY Guide – Grading Your Garden

DIY (Do It Yourself) Guide – Grading Your Garden

A comprehensive guide to grading your yard

grading your gardenThere may be circumstance when the ground around your home needs grading. This can often be the case when water accumulates to your basement. The problem often occurs due to poor drainage where the slope of the yard is slightly bent toward the property resulting in rain water, melting snow or water from the gutter and other drain system to accumulate or form ponds near the base of the house.  Grading a yard involves landscaping the yard to fix the slope away from the base of the property. Grading levels the yard and gets rid of any area that creates a pond. The work can be done as a DIY work when the area to cover is not very large. If the area that will be covered is quite large, it would be best to seek the help of a professional.  Major renovation work may require the necessary permit to be obtained from the local authorities.

Steps for grading your yard

garden slopeTo grade the yard you will need a string, a wooden stake, a yardstick and a leveller.

  • Start by finding the grade of your yard. Ideally, the grade of the yard should have a slight downward slope of about one foot for every 50 feet from the property foundation
  • Plant a stake near the foundation of the house along with a string at least 12 inches from the ground. Place another stake 50 feet outward also attaching the other end of the string.
  • Use a leveler to level the string by adjusting it at 50ft so that the leveler shows that the string is leveled. If the measurement decreases, the ground is sloping upward toward the house having all water accumulate at the base of the property. If the string levels, the distance between the ground and the height of the string at 50ft is the grade of the yard. It should be at least 1 foot.
  • You will need to obtain a grading tool. A skid loader can be rented from companies offering home improvement machines. Gradually remove the soil where the slope is to high. Note that in the process, you might have to remove all the grass but that can be replanted once you have finished with the grading.
  • Remeasure the area with the stake, string, and leveler as mentioned earlier. Make certain that the ground is sloping downward with a slope of one foot for every 50 ft all the way to the property line
  • After having obtained the desired grade, smooth the whole area using a leveling bar until you obtain a leveled yard

Factors to consider before grading

It should be mentioned that the yard needs to be prepared adequately before grading. After you have determined the grade of your yard, you have to consider how you want to grade your yard. As a basic guide line, the slope should be moving downward away from the property. If there is grass, you will first have to remove all the grass. Once the grass removed, you must find out what type of soil you have and its composition. Soil can often be of three types; clay, sand, or loam. Most yards have a combination of these soils. A professional can perform a test for you or you can acquire the necessary kit to test the soil. Knowing the type of soil is essential because it helps determine the PH balance and gives you a clue how to keep the soil

Health by adding ingredients that may lack; either nitrogen, inorganic or organic amendments, and phosphorous.

Having determined your soil type and composition, grading your yard wil be performed following the steps mentioned earlier but it needs to be done in two stages. When removing the grass and the excess soil, make note of any cables that might be lying underground. You should also verify with the local authority since some areas may have different laws with regards to yard grading.

Rough grading and Final Grading

garden grading levelIn the first step of grading, you have to take into consideration the features of the surroundings and how you would like to grade your yard. Things to consider include: trees, sidewalks, driveways, pools and any other feature of the surrounding. When removing deeper than several inches, make note of cable from the electric companies, phone cables, water pipes. The rough grading or initial grading is for obtaining the desired grade. Each 50ft away from the property, the slope should be one foot. You may want to consider terrace grading if you have stairs or trees on the yard ( terrace grading is when you grade your yard in the form of stairs taking into consideration the features of the surrounding like for instance a walkway that has stairs. You therefore adapt each slope while grading the yard to take in to consideration the stairs). Always make certain that the slope from the grading is directed properly toward a sewer or drainage. The rough grading will provide the correct angle.

Final grading often requires the soil to be approved by a city engineer. It consists of the topsoil and needs to have predetermined depth depending on the demand of the local authority where the grading is being done. In general, when landscaping and having applied the rough grading, provision for the final grading must b e at least 7 to 20 inches. Rough grading will provide the yard the desired slope and is where the necessary fixes should take place. The final layer of soil should be consistent with the soil quality that would be used for planting either grass or other items if you plan on having a garden. It is also where you can make improvement on your soil if it is of poor quality.

There are many reasons how you may benefit from grading your yard. You will not only improve the drainage system and could save yourself considerable amount of money by diverting water away from your building. You will also have the advantage of testing the PH of the soil and being better in a position to improve its quality.  When grading your yard, you must always direct the gradient such that any water going off the yard will drain in an acceptable drainage system. Careful assessment must be given before starting to grade your yard. Although a DIY project when the yard is of small size; if your yard is quite large, you may want to obtain the help of a professional especially if it is necessary to remove a big area of the grass.

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