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What Is Landscape Grading — And Do I Need It?

by Emily Durgan | Fri, May 08, 2015

Landscape grading isn’t one of those maintenance details that immediately comes to mind when you’re thinking about refreshing your landscaping. It’s a foundation item. If done well, you don’t even notice the grading. But when there are grading issues, you’ll see them show up in other places, most often with pooled water.

In additon to "What is landscape grading?" here are some questions our clients often ask us about landscape grading, along with our answers.

What Is Landscape Grading — And Why Does It Matter?

landscape grading will remove standing water which breeds mosquito larvaeLandscape grading is leveling or sculpting of the land to prepare the site for specific elements, whether it’s a simple as grass and plants, or hardscaping like a driveway, patio, path or stairs.  

Grading is also used to slope the land so water flows away from the house and to prevent land erosion by spreading out the excess water. If the water pools in certain areas of the lawn, the plants and grass can become waterlogged, which kills off the landscaping over the long term.

This standing water also invites mosquito breeding. Water pooling by the home’s foundation can leak into the house and cause structural damage over the long term as well.

How Can I Tell If My Property Has Poor Grading?

You’ll know about grading issues because the ground is uneven, you have poor drainage or there’s incorrect elevations per site controls (the last one is something we can tell you!). Grading issues aren’t only found on unoccupied sites, they can be on any type of property. Not all grading is done right the first time, and sometimes it needs correcting — regrading.

What Work Is Done To Grade A Landscape?

landscapers may lay down geogrid mesh to keep the soil in placeThe first step in grading the land is removing the topsoil in order to sculpt the land below it to the slope and level desired. If irrigation lines are going to be installed, now is the time to do it.

Your landscaper might have to lay down meshing or geogrid, to keep the soil in place and give the grass and other plants a chance to get their roots established more easily. After this, the topsoil is added back on and the final grading will ensure that the newly graded land meets the specifications set in the beginning, and is level and smooth.

Do I Need To Irrigate Or Drain The Area Differently?

Fortunately, irrigation needs and pipe placement doesn’t change based on grading. Drainage issues sometimes arise, and we address those as we encounter them. One advantage to proper grading is to address any drainage issues you might have with the current landscaping, like if your landscaping currently sends water to your home’s foundation or drains into your neighbor’s lawn.

landscape grading can help stop water from pooling up around your home's foundation Common drainage systems include a French drain, which sends water to a drain rather than to your lawn. Also popular is a bog, an area set up to collect a small amount of drainage water. There are native plants you can use in landscaping there that are adapted to that kind of condition.

Can I Grade My Own Landscape?

While homeowners can certainly rent a bulldozer try grading the land themselves, we don’t recommend it. Grading your property should be done right or the damage done to the house and property can be expensive to repair. Local laws might require permits not only for digging, but for identifying and avoiding utility lines like water, gas, electric and fiberoptic. Choosing the best drainage systems and installing them properly is best left to an expert, as is making sure that the sloping meets your goals.

GreenEarth Can Professionally And Effectively Grade Your Landscape

If you have questions about your property’s grading, we can do a site inspection and give you our thoughts. Give us a call at our Panama City Beach office at (850) 236-1959, or call our Santa Rosa Beach office at (850) 267-0010 to set up an appointment. You can also fill out the online form on our website to schedule a consultation.


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Images: Mosquito, Geogrid mesh, Standing water

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