From soil inspections to foundation pouring, many components go into a construction project. One of the most important yet least understood ones is grading.
Land grading, also known as yard leveling, helps reshape the surface of the ground. It’s used to prepare it for the construction process, but it’s also done on properties where the drainage destroys the structure’s foundation.
While this can be a large and costly project depending on the land’s conditions, it will ultimately be worthwhile to prevent serious problems in the future.
What Is Grading Land?
The purpose of land grading is to create a smooth landscape that doesn’t have elevation variations. It prepares the ground for laying a foundation, planting crops, and other uses. Additionally, grading is used to slope the land away from the construction site and provide proper drainage.
Land grading is done with heavy equipment such as an excavator, skid steer loader, or backhoe. It may involve digging, removing dirt, leveling slopes, filling low places, compacting the soil, leveling the building site, and hauling dirt to fill a hole or to level a slope.
Types of Land Grading
Land grading refers to a variety of related tasks. Each plot of land has a different soil type, existing vegetation, and slope. Depending on the state of the property and your unique needs, there are several types of grading.
Land grading is often used to carry water downhill and into a runoff or stream. You’ll also likely have to install drainage equipment, such as pipes, which may be required to direct water to a creek or retention pond.
Excavation refers to digging a hole to create a low-lying spot. It’s often done when a property is prepared for a new foundation. Excavation is usually also required before hardscaping installation, such as a driveway or concrete patio.
The fact that a flat region doesn’t mean that it’s smooth. Land leveling or surface smoothing can involve a range of works, from landscape modifications to removing undulations in the land.
Regular dirt doesn’t contain the needed organic matter needed for plants to grow. So, you may need to add topsoil to provide a healthy foundation. In addition to providing a thriving environment for the plants, adding topsoil will also help you spruce up the curb appeal.
How To Land Grade A Property?
The grading process depends on the type of job that needs to be done and the size of your land.
You can get the job done with a small skid steer or a dirt rake if you’re correcting the slope on a small property. First, find the highest point in the plot and use it as a reference point. Then, build a slope that drops about two feet for every 10 feet of horizontal distance. If the total drop is more than 12 feet, you’ll need a retaining wall to shore up the earth to prevent soil erosion. Once you’re laying sod over the top, reduce the total soil depth by an inch to account for the thickness of the sod.
In case of pooling, you’ll have to raise the low spots on the areas where the water is collecting. So first, pinpoint the areas with poor drainage. To find the maximum extent of pooling, it’s best to do this during heavy rain. Then, remove the topsoil and grass from the area and fill the area with at least four inches of dirt. Finally, cover the dirt with the removed topsoil and grass.
For larger plots of land or construction projects, you’ll need heavy equipment. In these cases, it’s best to call a qualified contractor. Although this is a pricier option, land grading requires solid knowledge to get it right.
What Does Land Grading Cost?
The average residential land grading job costs between $0.40 and $2 per square foot. The average price for grading a backyard or home lot is $1,000-$5,000. The most significant factor that affects the cost is the land’s size. You’ll pay more for grading a 50-acre plot than doing the job on a 5-acre property.
What Else Impacts the Cost of Grading
The cost of labor is one of the most important factors that impact the overall price of the grading project. Depending on the workforce and level of experience needed, expect to pay between $40 to $180 per hour. The contractor would typically charge a predetermined cost for each cubic yard of soil to be moved.
But that’s only one factor that influences the land grading cost. Here are a few more things to think about:
Size and accessibility of the property — Obviously, there’s more soil to move on a larger property than on a smaller one. It would also require more equipment and a larger team, which would raise your project costs. Accessibility is another major factor. If the crew has to move dirt through a narrow gate or up a long driveway, it will add more costs.
Soil conditions — Because workers may have to extract massive rocks and boulders, rocky soil can drastically increase prices. Depending on the circumstances, you could see a price rise of $40 to $100 per cubic yard. It can also be costly to remove trees and other barriers.
Getting rid of dirt — If your project requires a lot of dirt removal, you’ll have to pay someone to ship it out. Depending on your location, this might cost anything from $140 to $175 per cubic yard.
Filling holes with dirt — When you need to add height to your property, you’ll likely need to fill soil. However, at $15 or less per cubic yard, this is less expensive than dirt removal.
Leveling a slope — If you’re trying to remove a slope or hill, you’ll have to shift dirt from one region to another. Because you won’t have to pay for a lot of fill soil or dirt removal, this can be a more cost-effective option.
Resolving drainage issues — Installing pipes or another drainage system will be more expensive than just moving dirt.
Permits — Many jurisdictions require a grading permit. Check the restrictions in your area, pay your fees, and receive your permit ahead of time.
Final Thoughts: Does Land Grading Increase Property Value?
According to the National Association of Realtors, 99% of real agents believe that curb appeal is crucial in increasing the land’s worth and attracting new buyers. This alone is a compelling argument to grade your property. However, in many circumstances, grading can be required from a safety point.
Land buyers would want their plot to have the finest drainage available and proper grading that prevents erosion and runoff. Therefore, land grading can be a significant component of prepping your land for sale and increasing its value.