How Much Do Grading Contractors Cost?

November 17, 2018

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​Hiring grading contractors may not seem like an essential aspect of maintaining your home and property, but a yard needs to be properly graded away from your house, garage, driveway, and other such features. Proper grading helps prevent water damage to a home's foundation, while also helping to keep the lawn and landscaping features healthy and robust. Grading and leveling can also be needed after the removal of landscaping features and unwanted debris from your lot.

Grading Contractors Ridgefield, CT: The cost of yard leveling or grading might be as low as $500 or so, for small jobs that don't require heavy-duty equipment or replacement sod. Average costs of full-scale yard grading or leveling are often in the $2500 range, while prices for significant property reconstruction work might reach several thousand dollars.

To better understand why there is such a tremendous price difference when it comes to grading a driveway, yard, or other areas of your property, note some different types of grading, leveling, and clearing work you might need, and how each of these services ensures your home and lawn are always in good repair.

What is Property Grading?

The grade of your property refers to its slope. Residential lots are not entirely level, as they need to be slightly sloped downward, away from a house, garage, and driveway. This slope or grade will allow moisture in the ground to run toward the street and away from your home and other structures.

It's vital that water is directed toward the street this way; otherwise, moisture in the ground would collect next to the foundation of a structure and cause that concrete to soften and crack. Water can then make its way into your house, leading to a damp basement or crawlspace, and even future mold growth. Moist soil under a driveway can soften and shift, causing the pavement to crack and buckle.

What is Property Leveling?

Property leveling is slightly different than property or landscape grading. Leveling a residential property might include:

  • Filling in holes that are left behind after large landscaping features have been removed.
  • If the soil has too much or too little moisture, it may become soft and then collapse in various areas, creating small valleys. Leveling, as the name implies, will smooth over those areas so that the property's surface is more constant and even.
  • Leveling might be needed before you plant certain landscaping features; for example, leveling will ensure that the tops of hedges or shrubbery run in a smooth, straight line.
  • A retainer wall needs a flat and level surface on which to be constructed, and stone steps or patio pavers placed on uneven ground can shift and be downright unsafe for walking.

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When Do You Need Property Clearing?

There are many reasons why your residential property might need to be cleared by a leveling or grading contractor:

  • Property clearing contractors will remove fallen trees, large logs, boulders, and other large debris that you cannot safely remove on your own.
  • Fallen tree branches and other debris might need to be cleared after a storm.
  • Rocks and gravel need to be removed before the installation of a driveway or above-ground pool.
  • Clearing a property might involve pulling up a lawn so that fresh sod can be installed, or removing patchy areas of weeds and unwanted vegetation or shrubbery.
  • A professional contractor should also be called to remove dead, dying, or unwanted trees, as well as old tree stumps. ​

After a property has been cleared, it will then typically need to be leveled and graded.

What Causes a Property to Be Improperly Graded?

Improper grading drainage is not always the fault of construction workers or landscape installers. Note a few reasons why a property might be improperly graded and now needs re-grading:

  • A garage, shed, pool or other such structure can compact the soil of your lawn so that water cannot flow away from your house.
  • Animals can dig up areas of a property so that soil becomes loosened, allowing water to flow away from the lot too quickly. In turn, your lot might need a negative grade, meaning less of a slope toward from the street.
  • Removing shade trees will expose soil to added sunlight so that it might then dry out. If you or a previous owner had a shade tree removed without adjusting the property's grade, you might need to correct that slope, to protect the lot's soil.

Warning Signs That Your Lot Needs to Be Re-graded

Grading companies can tell you if your lawn is suffering from an improper slope, but note a few telltale signs to look for as well:

  • If you notice uneven areas of cut grass after mowing your lawn, this often indicates that the lot has peaks and valleys due to soft or outright collapsed soil. This type of soil often interferes with proper water flow through your lot.
  • Dead patches in your lawn might indicate that the soil is holding too much water, and needs to be re-graded. Brown patches suggest that the yard is not getting enough water so that the lot may need a negative grade, away from the street.
  • Unless your yard has suffered a broken plumbing pipe, overflowing septic tank, and the like, pools of water are often a sign that your lot needs to be re-graded immediately.
  • A persistently damp basement might indicate that moisture is seeping into the house from outside the basement walls. A proper grade will allow that moisture to run away from the home.

How Is Property Graded or Leveled?

excavation contractors in CTIt's vital for a homeowner to realize that property grading and leveling are not DIY jobs! Grading contractors do not merely rake a property downward to create a slight slope, as the soil needs to be correctly compacted while being graded. Also, the angle formed by grading will depend on many factors:

  • If the soil is overly dry, the grade or slope may be less steep, to keep some moisture in the ground. If the soil is very moist, the grade may be more severe, to allow for more water drainage.
  • Roots of trees and other vegetation may hold more moisture in the soil, and a property's grade might then be altered depending on the landscaping and greenery on the lot.
  • Property in areas with lots of rainfall may need a more pronounced grade, so that rainwater runs toward the street and doesn't pool on the lot.
  • A grading contractor might grade areas of your property toward flowerbeds or other such landscaping features, to keep them adequately watered and healthy.

Improper grading is also sometimes corrected by actually moving soil toward the house, to create a slight elevation. However, this work is more detailed than you might realize; for example, merely stacking dirt up against a concrete foundation can invite termites to burrow into the home. Water also flows freely through sandy soil, so using the wrong type of dirt might then encourage moisture buildup around a home's foundation!

Grading might also cause significant damage to a property, as this process typically tears up your lawn and may require the removal of certain landscaping features. After grading, a professional contractor will then level the soil and ensure it's suitable for fresh sod and new landscaping.

How to Improve a Lawn's Irrigation and Drainage

While grading a lot can be the best way to improve its overall irrigation and drainage, there are many other ways that a homeowner can keep their property's soil healthy. Note a few suggestions to discuss with grading companies:

  • If your lot's soil is overly moist, plant vegetation that absorbs moisture from the ground. Consider river reeds, willows, and other such grasses.
  • If the lot is overly arid, add tall shade trees, to protect the soil from the hot sun. Shade will also ensure that your property's grass can absorb as much morning dew as possible before it evaporates.
  • To keep rainwater from pooling on your lot, set down extenders under the downspouts. These funnels capture water coming from the downspouts, directing it away from the home and keeping it from being absorbed by the soil.
  • Sandy soil allows water to run through it very quickly, as said, whereas clay clumps up and retains water. Depending on the lot's current condition, mix either sand or clay into the existing soil, to better control how much water drains through the dirt.
  • A French drain is a type of underground trench, filled with gravel and then covered over. Gravel is less compact than soil and will allow moisture to drain away from your home quickly.
  • Create a pond or rain garden in areas of consistent flooding in your yard. By working with a landscaping engineer to create this feature, the pooling becomes an attractive area of your yard rather than a damaging eyesore! A pond or rain garden also keeps water in one area of the lot, rather than having it collect and pool around a home's foundation.

Grading contractors can also note other ways to help your lot drain properly, beyond grading and leveling, to ensure your yard is always in good condition and your home is protected from potential water damage.

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