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Yard and Soil Grading

To prevent water from stagnating in your yard and endangering the foundation, you should make sure the soil on your property is properly graded.

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Many homeowners have never thought about soil grading. But once heavy rains start pouring down and lead to pooling water around the foundation, it is usually too late to act preventively. 

Here, we will go through the ins and outs of soil grading. We’ll explain all the little details that will help you save time and money when rain clouds gather above your home. 

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Yard Grading 

Essentially, grading describes the incline of the soil around your home as it relates to the structure. It’s somewhat similar to the concept of sea level. One side of your home could be above sea level while the other could be below. In turn, some parts of your yard could be higher than others. 

It’s not uncommon for homes in North Carolina to reside on both the higher and lower parts of their yard. Professionals use terms such as positive and negative grading. But don’t worry if they say your property is negatively graded; it’s not quite what you’d think it is. Hence, let’s demystify these terms so that you can understand them better. 

  • Positive grading: Having positive grading means that your house sits on the highest point of the property. In this case, the land around the structure slopes away from it. Usually, positive grading can save your home from flooding and other water-related damage. 
  • Negative grading: If your home has a negative grading, it is at a lower level than the rest of the yard. Unfortunately, when there’s heavy rain in the area, the water will flood towards the home and its foundation. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t prevent such scenarios with professional help. 

Signs to Look out For 

It’s easy to mistake a messy and oversaturated yard for negative grading. Here are some telltale signs of negative grading:  

  • Soggy soil: If there’s negative grading in your yard, the roots of plants near the lower levels of land will be drowning in excessive amounts of water. The gaps and pores in the ground will be full of water. 
  • Drainage issues: Another sign of negative grading is water inside your basement or crawl space. This brings with it a range of problems that could endanger the health of your home and loved ones.  
  • Mosquitoes: This one’s nasty. Mosquitoes love water and humidity, so they’ll flock to your home if it has a negative grading and more specifically, puddles of water surrounding it. If you notice there’s suddenly more of them than usual, it’s probably time to call professionals for help. 
  • Rotting grass: If you suddenly realize that the grass around your home is decaying, the reason could be negative grading.  

Is It Time to Regrade Your Yard? 

Regrading is all about the gradient slope of the yard. If it slopes by six inches or more, you don’t need to worry. You have more than the optimal slope and your home’s safe enough. But if the slope is below the six-inch level, you’ll need to alter it. 

This is important because it will affect the drainage. By adding fill around the perimeter of your home and tamping it, you’ll be able to shift the situation in your favor. Afterward, you should check the slope gradient to be sure that it’s at a desirable level. 

Checking the Slope Level 

Once again, timing is key. You should do your yard’s grading before the rainy season starts in the spring. Luckily, it’s not difficult; you can do it in six easy steps. Here’s how: 

  • First, drive a straight stick into the ground beside your foundation. 
  • Next, tie a thin rope or a string to the top of the stick. 
  • Slide the rope/string down the stake and let it rest on the ground. 
  • After that, measure 10 feet away from the stick and toward the yard. 
  • Now, drive another straight stick into the ground and tie the other end of the rope/string to it (make sure the string and the sticks form a 90-degree angle). 
  • Finally, measure the distance from the string on the second stick to the ground. 

If the distance is six inches or more, you’re good to go. 

Improving Your Yard’s Grading 

Once again, a negative grading isn’t the end of the world. You can still improve it and save your lawn and home from any possible problems in the future. Landscaping professionals in North Carolina can help you out. 

By installing a catch basin, they’ll successfully direct water away from your home. A catch basin is a piping system with a grate cover that will blend with its surroundings and your lawn. It will also improve your yard’s curb appeal. 

Another thing to keep in mind is the water and melting snow that come from your roof. Without quality gutters and downspouts, you’ll have additional problems as the excessive water will form puddles right next to your foundation. And if you already have them, you should keep them clean, clearing any leaves and clogs that might disrupt their performance. 

Besides these solutions, you should investigate waterproofing your basement or crawl space. Frankly, it will make a world of difference when it comes to flooding and other water-related issues. It won’t improve your negative grading, but it will prevent it from disrupting the structural safety of your home. 

For help with keeping your basement or crawl space dry, contact our team at Tar Heel Basement Systems to schedule a free inspection today. Don’t let water endanger your family’s safety. Be proactive! 

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2910 Griffith Rd
Winston-Salem, NC 27103


3333 Air Park Road
Fuquay-Varina, NC 27526