It's All Downhill From Here: How To Tell If Your Yard Is Properly Graded
Much of the country is forecast to get heavier rains this coming winter, so it's essential that you ensure your yard is properly graded. If you have recently bought a home, or if you live in an area where there hasn't been much rain for a few years, the soil might not be in as great shape grade-wise as you think. That can lead to flooding and ponding that can destroy your lawn and damage your house. Here are a few things to check to ensure your yard is graded correctly.
Ponding and Absorption
The next time you water the lawn, or the next time it rains for a substantial length of time, check around the yard for puddles in the grass and areas of grass that look much muddier and wet than others. Those can indicate that the ground is not absorbing the rain as much as it should, or that the ground has shifted so that the grade is too flat for the excess water to run off properly.
Checking for ponding and absorption will tell you if there are trouble spots, but to check your whole lawn, you need to do some measuring. Look for a steady object at the end of the lawn closest to the house, and attach a string to the object. Extend the string in a straight line perpendicular to the house, all the way out to the other end of the lawn. Use a construction level to ensure that the string stays level. Measure both the length of the string and the height of the string at the end of the lawn.
To find the grade, you basically have to find the slope of a triangle. Divide the height of the string by the length of the string (the rise over the run). Then, multiply that number by 100 to turn it into a percent. You want a slope of about 2 percent.
If the slope is much less or much more, or if you see ponding or wet spots, contact a grading contractor and have him or her look at your yard. There could be an easy fix that you can do yourself, or you may have to hire a grading contractor or landscaper to fix the lawn so that water doesn't flow back into your house. It's better to check this now and not need work than to find out the hard way that the grade wasn't correct.