Ashburn, VA

How much does it cost to level a yard or regrade land?

$0.40 – $2.00 cost per square foot
$500 – $1,000 level small yard, patio, or pool area
$1,000 – $5,000 regrade average backyard or home lot

Get free estimates from grading contractors near you, or view our cost guide below.

October 22, 2021

Reviewed by Tom Grupa and 3 expert grading companies on HomeGuide.

Cost to regrade a lawn or land

Regrading a yard costs $500 to $1,000 for small lawns or $1,000 to $5,000 for the average backyard. Land leveling costs $0.40 to $2.00 per square foot. Fixing grading around a house costs $500 to $3,000. The cost to flatten a yard depends on the size, slope, and fill dirt needed.

Cost to regrade a lawn or land - chart
Cost to regrade a lawn or land - chart

Cost to regrade a lawn or land
Project type Average cost Description
Small grading project $500 – $1,000 Grading land for a patio, pool, or along one foundation wall.
Large grading project $1,000 – $5,000 Grading an entire backyard, regrading around a house, or leveling a lot for new home construction.
Fine or finish grading $0.40 – $1 per square foot Grading the top 1" to 3" of soil for surface smoothing and leveling.
Rough grading $1 – $2 per square foot Removing a slope or contouring the yard for proper drainage.

Average land grading cost

Land grading costs $500 to $5,000 on average, depending on the yard size, soil type, slope, and fill dirt needed.

  • Grading rocky soil is priced at the higher end of the range.
  • Grading a steep slope requires more excavation and fill dirt, increasing the cost.
  • Clearing trees and large rocks before grading costs more.

Average land grading cost - chart
Average land grading cost - chart

Average cost to grade yard
National average cost $2,300
Minimum cost $200
Maximum cost $10,000
Average cost range $500 to $5,000

Cost data is from research and project costs reported by HomeGuide members.

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Land grading cost per square foot

Land grading costs $0.40 to $2.00 per square foot, depending on the site conditions, slope, and excavation needed:

Land grading cost per square foot
Land grading cost per square foot

  • Fine or finish grading costs $0.40 to $1.00 per square foot for leveling the top 1" to 3" of soil.
  • Rough grading costs $1 to $2 per square foot for removing slopes or contouring land for drainage.
Land grading cost per square foot
Square feet Fine or finish grading Rough grading
1 $0.40 – $1.00 $1 – $2
500 $200 – $500 $500 – $1,000
1,000 $400 – $1,000 $1,000 – $2,000
2,500 $1,000 – $2,500 $2,500 – $5,000
5,000 $2,000 – $5,000 $5,000 – $10,000
10,000 $4,000 – $10,000 $10,000 – $20,000

Landscape grading around house and yard for drainage
Landscape grading around house and yard for drainage

Land grading cost per acre

Land grading costs $17,400 to $43,600 per acre, depending on the site conditions, slope steepness, and fill dirt or topsoil needed. The cost to level a 1/4-acre home lot is $4,400 to $10,900. Most residential grading projects are 1/4 acre or less.

Land grading cost per acre
Acres Average cost
0.1 $1,700 – $4,400
0.25 $4,400 – $10,900
0.5 $8,700 – $21,800
1 $17,400 – $43,600

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Cost to level a yard by project

The cost to level a yard is $500 to $5,000 on average, depending on the project size and type, slope, and site conditions. Leveling a small area for a patio or pool costs $500 to $1,000. Leveling an entire backyard to flatten a slope costs $1,000 to $5,000.

Cost to level a yard by project - chart
Cost to level a yard by project - chart

Cost to level a yard
Project Average cost
Driveway $700 – $2,500
Pool $200 – $850
Patio or deck $500 – $1,000
Grading around house for drainage issues $500 – $3,000 
Leveling land for new construction or home addition $1,000 – $5,000
Removing slope or hill in backyard $1,000 – $5,000
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Cost to remove a hill or flatten a sloped backyard

Removing a hill or leveling a sloped yard costs $1,000 to $5,000, depending on the yard size, slope degrees, and amount of dirt to move. Removing a steep hill requires heavy equipment. Grading companies with a mini excavator, bobcat, backhoe, or skid-steer charge $100 to $300 per hour for labor.

Contractor leveling a backyard for drainage issues
Contractor leveling a backyard for drainage issues

Grading contractors use a cut-and-fill technique, removing dirt from high areas to build up low areas. Some projects require additional fill dirt.

Cost to regrade around a house

Regrading around a house costs $500 to $1,000 to fix one side of the foundation or $1,000 to $3,000 to grade around the entire house. Grading around a house fixes drainage issues and prevents basement leaks and erosion around the foundation.

Cost to regrade around a house - chart
Cost to regrade around a house - chart

Regrading around house cost
Project type Average cost
Fix grade along one side of house $500 – $1,000
Regrade around entire foundation $1,000 – $3,000

Cost to level yard for pool

Leveling a yard for an above-ground pool costs $200 to $850, depending on the pool size and yard slope. Installing a pool on uneven ground weakens the pool's structure and results in uneven water levels, causing problems for the skimmer.

  • For maximum stability, experts recommend cutting down the high areas to match the height of the lowest area instead of adding dirt to raise the low area.
  • After grading, adding a layer of sand creates a level subbase and ensures no small rocks will puncture the pool's bottom liner.
  • Installing an above-ground pool costs $1,850 to $5,000 for the pool and labor.

Driveway grading cost

Driveway grading costs $3 to $8 per square foot or $700 to $2,500 on average. Grading ensures proper drainage and a stable subbase below the driveway. Grading for steeply sloped sites is priced at the higher end. New driveway installation costs $3 to $12 per square foot, without grading.

Leveling a yard for a patio, deck, fence, or playset

Leveling a yard to install a patio, deck, or playset costs $500 to $1,000, depending on the area's size and current slope. An average patio or deck is 300 to 400 square feet.

Patio and walkway leveled with steps for paver installation
Patio and walkway leveled with steps for paver installation

  • Installing a concrete patio costs $4 to $12 per square foot or $1,200 to $4,300 on average, not including grading.
  • Installing a paver patio costs $10 to $17 per square foot or $1,900 to $6,800 on average, not including grading.
  • Building a deck costs $15 to $30 per square foot or $4,400 to $10,100 on average, not including grading.
  • Patios or decks installed within 10 feet of a foundation must slope away from the house at least 1/4" per foot.
  • A concrete patio requires a stable subbase of sand or crushed stone on top of a level dirt pad.
  • Playsets require 6 feet of open, level space on all sides.
  • Installing a new fence costs $13 to $25 per linear foot and does not require a level yard. A stepped or racked fence follows the contour of the existing slope.

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Cost factors to regrade a yard

Cost factors to regrade a yard may include:

  • Land survey & grading plan
  • Landscape clearing and excavation
  • Fill dirt and topsoil
  • Erosion control improvements
  • Yard improvements
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Land survey and grading plan cost

A topographic land survey costs $800 to $2,000, depending on the land size, location, and terrain complexity. Surveying rugged, hilly, or uneven terrain costs $100 more per 10,000 square feet. A recent topographic survey may be required before grading the land.

A grading plan details the slope gradients, planned elevations, and drainage patterns to ensure the project meets local code requirements. Most residential projects do not require a grading plan.

Landscape clearing and excavating

Land must be cleared before leveling. Excavation may be necessary when grading a steep slope or mountain property.

  • Land clearing costs $125 to $1,500 per 1/4 acre, depending on the density of trees, shrubs, rocks, and stumps.
  • Excavation costs $1 to $5 per square foot, depending on the terrain complexity and volume of dirt.
  • Removing a single tree costs $100 to $1,800, depending on the size. Grading around a tree may cause root damage and the tree's death.
  • Removing a tree stump costs $160 to $360 on average.

Fill dirt for filling and grading

Fill dirt is is an inorganic subsoil for filling deeply sloped land or for landscape projects. Fill dirt costs $5 to $25 per cubic yard, depending on the type and quality. One yard of dirt covers 55 square feet at 6" deep.

Basic soil testing costs $15 to $400 to determine the pre-existing soil's quality and to fill the resloped area with matching fill dirt.

Topsoil after flattening lawn

After flattening, topsoil is the organic nutrient-rich top layer of soil for flower beds, gardens, and lawns. Topsoil costs $10 to $50 per cubic yard, depending on the type and quality. One yard of topsoil covers 81 square feet at 4" deep. Many grading contractors charge separately for fill dirt and topsoil.

Slope erosion control costs

Install sod, mulch, ground cover, a retaining wall, or an erosion control grid to prevent soil from shifting or running off the slope.

  • Building a retaining wall costs $2,450 to $6,650 on average.
  • A slope erosion control grid costs $1 to $2 per square foot and prevents erosion and soil migration.
  • Planting shrubs, bushes, or ground cover costs $20 to $60 each and prevents soil erosion.
  • Sod installation costs $0.90 to $1.80 per square foot and holds the soil in place to prevent erosion across the entire yard.
  • Mulch costs $35 to $70 per yard and reduces soil runoff by holding soil in place.

Yard improvements after flattening

The yard may require improvements after grading:

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Terraced backyard cost

A terraced backyard costs $2,500 to $10,000 and turns a steep slope into a series of smaller, level areas. Terraces catch water runoff and direct the excess water to the bottom of a hillside, preventing erosion. Building a terraced yard requires retaining walls and proper grading.

  • A retaining wall costs $20 to $35 per square foot.
  • Sod prices are $0.90 to $1.80 per square foot installed.

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DIY yard leveling cost

DIY yard leveling costs $120 to $280 for tools to level a small area like a walkway or patio by hand. Grading larger areas involves renting heavy equipment, precise measuring, and intense physical labor. Incorrect grading can cause drainage issues and water damage.

DIY cost for yard grading tools and supplies
Tool Average cost
Landscape rake $20 – $50
Shovel $10 – $20
Stakes (12-pack) $5 – $10
Line & string level $8 – $20
Tamper $35 – $60
Wheelbarrow $40 – $120
Warning: Contact local utility companies to flag the location of buried pipes and utility lines before digging.

Yard grading equipment rental costs

Yard grading equipment rental costs $200 to $700 per day or $750 to $1,750 per week. Most grading projects take 3 days to a week. Hiring an operator costs $50 to $150 per hour. Operators with their own mini excavator, backhoe, or skid-steer loader charge $100 to $300 per hour.

Yard grading equipment rental costs
Equipment Rental cost per day Rental cost per week
Mini excavator rental $200 – $700 $800 – $1,700
Backhoe rental $200 – $450 $800 – $1,100
Skid-steer loader rental $200 – $550 $750 – $1,300
Sod cutter rental $80 – $100 $320 – $420

How to flatten land

Follow these steps to flatten or level a sloped yard:

  1. Identify the nearest drainage area that won't adversely affect the environment or neighboring properties.
  2. Mark the high and low points of the yard with ground stakes.
  3. Use a string line level to establish a level grade line between the two points.
  4. Order additional fill dirt or topsoil before if needed.
  5. Contact local utility companies to flag the location of any buried pipes, wires, and utility lines.
  6. Remove all sod and plants from the sloped area.
  7. Use a shovel, backhoe, bobcat, or mini excavator to remove the entire topsoil layer. Pile the topsoil in another area for temporary storage.
  8. Dig and move existing dirt from high areas to low areas to create a level surface or a gentler slope.
  9. Dump the fill dirt in the low points to build them up. Spread the dirt evenly.
  10. Measure again to confirm the land is level or matches the desired slope and is graded correctly to drain water away from the home's foundation.
  11. Use a shovel to fill any small depressions with additional dirt. Rake the surface to smooth it.
  12. Replace the layer of topsoil that was previously removed.
  13. Tamp down the soil with a wood plank or a metal tamper.
  14. Water the area thoroughly and check the level again. Fill any remaining depressions with topsoil.

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What is grading a yard?

Land grading is the process of leveling the ground or contouring the slope to ensure proper water drainage. Grading often involves moving dirt from the highest areas of the yard to the lowest places to remove a slope.

  • Grading corrects the yard's slope to drain water away from the home's foundation.
  • Leveling is a form of grading that creates a smooth, even surface.

Reasons to regrade a yard

Regrading a yard improves drainage, prevents water damage, and creates more usable yard space for a new patio, swimming pool, or play area. Look for these signs that a yard needs regrading:

  • Pooling water on the lawn, hardscapes, or driveways
  • Flooding in the basement or around the foundation
  • Soil erosion
  • Spongy soil from too much water collecting in low areas
  • Mold, fungus, or dead grass and plants due to improper drainage
  • Heavily exposed tree roots
  • Uneven areas of cut grass due to peaks and depressions in the lawn

What is included in land grading?

A land grading job includes:

  • Measuring the area and establishing a level line or determining the ideal slope
  • Digging and moving dirt to cut down high spots and fill low spots
  • Hauling in and spreading new fill dirt or topsoil (charged separately)
  • Leveling the area or creating the desired slope
  • Compacting and raking the soil

When is the best time of year to regrade a yard?

The best time to regrade a yard is in the Spring or Fall during dry weather, or immediately with drainage issues. Pros recommend reseeding or laying new sod immediately after grading to hold the soil in place. Avoid grading during the rainy season as the loose topsoil may wash away.

How long does it take to level a yard?

Leveling a yard takes 3 days to 1 week on average, depending on the size, slope, and terrain complexity. Grading for smaller landscaping projects may take as little as 1 day.

Do I need a permit to level my yard?

A grading permit costs $50 to $400, depending on the project size and location. Most cities require a grading permit for any excavation, fill, or land disturbance. Projects that affect sensitive areas like creeks, shorelines, or other natural resources may encounter additional fees.

Some cities also require homeowners to purchase a grading surety bond to ensure the contractor follows local building codes.

Does land grading increase property value?

Land grading may increase property value for homes in flood zones or with steeply sloped yards. Buyers with children typically prefer houses with level backyards. Grading as part of a larger landscape design project can increase property value by 5% to 12%.

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Finding a landscape grading contractor

Excavation contractors handle land clearing, grading, and leveling projects. Some local landscapers take small grading jobs.

Before hiring a grading contractor, be sure to:

  • Get at least three quotes to compare. Grading companies require an onsite visit to provide an accurate estimate.
  • Choose a company with extensive residential land grading experience.
  • Look for pros with Erosion and Sediment Control certification.
  • Look at their reviews on HomeGuide, Google, and the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
  • Select a company that is licensed, bonded, and insured.
  • Request a comprehensive grading plan detailing the landscaping, elevation, and drainage.
  • Get a detailed estimate, contract, and warranty in writing before the work begins.
  • Avoid companies with the cheapest quotes as quality may suffer.
  • Never pay in full before the project starts. Follow a payment plan instead.

Questions to ask

  • How many grading projects like mine have you handled before?
  • Are you licensed, bonded, and insured?
  • Are you certified in Erosion and Sediment Control?
  • Do you own or rent your excavation equipment? Does the estimate include all equipment and delivery fees?
  • Will you flag any buried pipes and utility lines before work begins?
  • Does the estimate include fill dirt, topsoil, and dirt delivery fees?
  • Does the estimate include cleanup and debris removal?
  • What other costs should I expect?
  • What permits do I need, and will you obtain them?
  • Will I need a grading surety bond? If so, will you help me obtain one?
  • How long will the project take?

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