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How to Grade a Yard for Drainage

Grading is the process of creating a level base of land for construction or landscaping. It gets rid of low-lying areas that could create puddles or standing water and allow mosquitoes to reproduce. It also helps to prevent runoff water from gutters and downspouts from flowing onto the garden space or lawn. Grading gives newly planted grass a stable, well-drained area to grow.

Rent a small grading machine from a local equipment rental store. You can also contact a landscape professional or grading specialist. It will be much cheaper to do the work yourself if the job is small. If you are planning a major renovation to your lawn, you may want to check with a professional landscaper. You may need permits and inspections for major landscaping in your area. Your landscaper will acquire these for you.

Determine the proper grade for your yard. The grade should go away from your house and should descend at a rate of 1 foot for every 50 feet from your foundation. The easiest way to determine the current slope and where your yard needs to be is with a string leveler. Place one end of the string at the base of the house and extend the string out 50 feet with the leveler in the center. Raise the end away from the house until the leveler is level. The distance from the string to the ground is your grade. It should ideally be 1 foot.

Use a grader to remove soil from the high spots in the lawn and place it on the low spots. Remeasure with the string leveler until you have achieved the proper grade. You may need to make two piles of soil. The first 6 to 8 inches of yard will be topsoil, which should remain on top. The bottom layers are subsoil and should stay on the bottom.

Smooth out the surface of your yard after you have completed the grade. Use a leveling bar and a rake to smooth over the debris until the lawn is level. You can then add the necessary soil amendments and replant your grass seed.

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