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When planting a new lawn, take the time to fix any existing grade problems (after removing the old turf and before adding amendments to the soil). For minor grading problems, small versions of earth-moving equipment are often available to rent or buy. You can also use a landscaping rake for working topsoil to the proper grade.
- To make minor grade adjustments use a landscape rake.
- Water the area. Later, fill where puddles formed using soil from high spots.
The First Rule of Grading
The first rule of grading is that the ground should slope away from your house in all directions dropping at least two or three inches every ten feet. The maximum slope in a lawn should be twelve inches for every four feet. If the drop is greater than twelve inches you should plan to build a low retaining wall or cover the slope with a hardy ground cover or ornamental grass.
The Finished Grade
The finished grade (after amendments and sod added) should end up matching the level of existing fixtures—walkways, patios, and established lawn. If you will be replanting with seed and adding one inch of amendments then the grade should be one inch lower than your fixtures. If you will be replanting with sod and adding one inch of amendments then the grade should be about two inches lower than your fixtures.
The Proper Way to Re-Grade
The proper way to re-grade starts with removing the topsoil from the problem area. Now adjust the subsoil by scraping away high areas and filling in low areas. Spread 2-inches of the reserved topsoil and till it in to the first 2-inches of subsoil. This will help prevent drainage problems between the two layers of soil.
Finally, spread the rest of your topsoil, which should add at least another four inches. If you need to add more topsoil you should buy a loam that is free of debris, such as roots, stones, weed, seeds and pesticides.
Large grading often requires help from a landscaping contractor with heavy equipment.