Why is Grading Around Your Home Important?

Grading plays a major role in where the water ends up on your property.  When looking at the grading you should be looking at all areas around your house including the landscaping directly surrounding the house, paved areas, the lawn, and gardens. Your goal is to have all the water that falls on your house roof and across your entire property to run away from the house.

All water that falls within 10 feet of your house (snowmelt or rain) should have a clear path away from your home without ponding (water only runs downhill).

Soil Grading Around Your Home

Ideally, the ground should drop one inch for every one foot that you move away from the house for the first 5-to-10 feet around your house. While this is not always possible, the ground should never be sloping upwards as you move away from your house foundation.

To fix or improve the grading, you can add soil next to the foundation and slope away from the house, however, you should have at least four inches of your foundation (concrete, block, or stone) showing above the soil. The soil and vegetation should not be in contact with the siding or any wood.

If the soil is near the top of the foundation, you can also remove soil a few feet away from the foundation to increase the slope away from the house if you have enough drop in the grading as you move away from the house for the water to continue to flow away from the house and not pond.

man measuring grading around his home

The ground should drop 1 inch for every 1 foot that you move away from the house for the first 5-to-10 feet around your house.

Type of Soil for Grading Around Your Home

Bagged topsoil is not the best choice (it’s usually a compost mixture higher in organic content) and is expensive in volume. The better choice is a screened topsoil off the pile at a local landscape or garden center. This will be sourced locally and most likely a native silty clay loam that will be easy to work with, settle into a desired semi-permeable state, and will support vegetation.

Window Wells

Since your house has settled over time, window wells often need to be raised to provide adequate space from the top of the window well to the top of the grading (2” - 3” is ideal) as you try to correct your grading.

You may need to install taller window wells if your existing window wells can’t be raised without allowing soil and/or water to enter from the bottom into the window well.

Leaking windows and/or failing window wells should be sealed and or replaced.

window wells of a basement

Houses settle over time, so often window wells need to be raised.