When we purchased our house, the inspector recommended that we regrade all the ground that meets the house to ensure water is draining away properly.

  • What do I need in order to do this (am I insane for even considering doing it myself?)?
  • What should I do with the plants that are currently in the way of digging up the ground to improve their chances of surviving the process?
  • Are there any potential issues we should be prepared for (discovering drains, buried cables, etc.)?
  • Do you have a basement below the grade? Are you getting any water leaking through the walls into the basement? Are you seeing any evidence of water getting under the house, or do you just see erosion and the ground sloping down toward the house?
    – ChrisP
    Dec 8, 2010 at 3:23
  • @ChrisP: Yes, we have a basement below the grade. No, there doesn't seem to be any water leaking through the walls. Sump pump is working as expected. There are some places where it is clear that water sits against the house, hence the desire to regrade.
    – Jeff Yates
    Dec 9, 2010 at 3:08

3 Answers 3


I was given the same recommendation and decided it would be too much work for me to do myself. I was told to use a clay based soil to ensure that it doesn't wash away and to plant some type of ground cover (something like Pachysandra) to take root and hold onto the soil.

I'm far from a gardening expert but it seemed to be a tremendous amount of work to do without some kind of heavy lifting equipment and a few tons of dirt.

  • If you don't mind me asking, what kind of price was it (say, per ft or per sq.ft) or have you not had it done yet?
    – Jeff Yates
    Dec 7, 2010 at 18:42
  • 1
    @Jeff I got estimates ... was around $500 for a 40x25 foot house I believe .... around 3 sides. I never did get it done, the issue I had turned out to be more severe than just regrading and required foundation repair.
    – user45
    Dec 7, 2010 at 19:20

what is not clear from your question is how much earth needs to be graded away from the house. if it is just a few feet wide and say not more than 6 inches deep, this could be done by hand or with the help of a good roto tiller to loosen the soil before moving it. If you are talking about moving several yards of soil and digging much deeper, a small piece of equipment may be necessary, and proper reconstruction or drains installed. When ever you dig with machines, it is wise to call 1-800-DIG-SAFE. This is a free service and required by law. The various utility companies will check to see if there are any potential lines or pipes in the ground where you intend to work , and mark them before you start. If you hire out the job, be sure your contractor calls Dig Safe as well. (Good contractors do this automatically) Would love to see pics of the ground elevations in relationship to the house, that would help a lot.

  • In Ohio (USA), you're required to register with OUPS (either over the phone or over the Internet) before digging, even if you're only using hand tools. Dec 8, 2010 at 14:24
  • I would say it's only two or three feet at most, depending on where abouts around the house. I don't know about the depth without checking but I don't think it's much.
    – Jeff Yates
    Dec 9, 2010 at 3:09
  • @Brian: Thanks for the info. We're actually in Michigan (not too far away) - I know we have to call 1-800-DIG-SAFE but I haven't investigated if there's anything else we would need to do, yet. (I'm not looking to tackle this right now what with Winter approaching)
    – Jeff Yates
    Dec 9, 2010 at 3:10
  • I agree that a couple of pictures would help.
    – ChrisP
    Dec 9, 2010 at 3:13

Another option would be to install a french drain along the foundation to give that standing water a way to travel and move it out into the yard or into a dry well. I was lucky that I was able to add dirt around the base of my house to provide enough of a slope to move the water away from the foundation. I also used some plastic landscaping material around flower beds to prevent run off from even getting up to the bricks of the foundation.

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