You can resurface, regrade, or even restructure your yard to accommodate your dream landscape. Many terms are used to refer to resloping. This is simply moving dirt from one area of your yard to another or removing it entirely. Often, you reslope for landscaping for cosmetic reasons so that the shape of your yard works with your desired design. However, because landscaping usually involves irrigation, a key consideration when starting any resloping project is to ensure that your yard’s new shape allows for water to drain away from a home’s foundation.
The cost of resloping for landscaping depends on the size of your yard, existing damage, and the type of soil currently on your property. The backyard leveling cost for a 1,000 sq.ft. area ranges from $1,500 to $2,600. Most homeowners pay around $1,800 to regrade a 1,000 sq.ft. yard with a 2-foot slope that needs 5 cubic yards of fill dirt and 10 cubic yards of topsoil added. Your grading backyard price can be as low as $550 for resloping a small yard of 250 sq.ft. with minimum slope and four cubic yards of topsoil and four cubic yards of fill dirt and as high as $8,200 for resloping 2,500 sq.ft. yard with a 5-foot slope and 50 cubic feet of fill dirt and 50 cubic feet of topsoil.
|Average Cost to Regrade a Yard|
|National average cost||$1,800|
Most homeowners pay nowhere near the average price to regrade an entire acre. The average size American yard is between 5,000 and 10,000 sq.ft. It is not common for the entire yard to be regraded, so the final price varies. Homeowners should expect to pay about $1 to $2 per sq.ft. to reslope if no additional fill dirt is needed. As shown below, the average price ranges from about $500 for a 500 sq.ft. yard to $20,000 for a 10,000 sq.ft. yard.
|Square Footage||Average Price|
|500 sq.ft.||$500 - $1,000|
|1,000 sq.ft.||$1,000 - $2,000|
|2,500 sq.ft.||$2,500 - $5,000|
|5,000 sq.ft.||$5,000 - $10,000|
|7,500 sq.ft.||$7,500 - $15,000|
|10,000 sq.ft.||$10,000 - $20,000|
Even though the average American yard is far less than an acre, professional contractors usually base their quotes on an average cost of grading land per acre. The final cost to regrade the yard includes hourly labor, materials (e.g., fill dirt), and equipment (e.g., backhoe). The price ranges from $3,000 for a 1/5 acre up to $45,000 for a full acre. Those prices do not include any extra fill dirt.
|⅕ Acre||$3,000 - $9,000|
|¼ Acre||$3,750 - $11,250|
|½ Acre||$7,500 - $22,500|
|1 Acre||$15,000 - $45,000|
The cost to reslope a yard for landscaping depends on the amount of fill dirt that needs to be brought in and the size of cut required to level the ground. Most contractors give you a quote based on a change in elevation in 1 ft. increments, with most jobs requiring a leveling of about 2 ft. between the low and high points. The prices below are based on resloping a 1,000 sq.ft. yard. For example, the average cost to flatten a backyard with 1 foot inclination could be as little as $1,000, while the price for a 5 ft. inclination could be up to $2,400.
|Height of Slope||Average Price for a 1,000 Sq.Ft. Yard|
|1 ft.||$1,000 - $1,200|
|2 ft.||$1,300 - $1,500|
|3 ft.||$1,600 - $1,800|
|4 ft.||$1,900 - $2,100|
|5 ft.||$2,200 - $2,400|
The biggest part of the resloping process completed by the construction crew is leveling the high and low points of your yard to the level grade line. The crew will first level the high points by removing soil and placing it in the low points. Once the high points have been leveled and all of the dirt has been reallocated to the low points, it may be necessary to bring in more fill dirt to raise the low points to the level line.
Fill dirt prices vary by region of the country, but you can expect that the cost of fill dirt per cubic foot to be $0.25 to $0.45. The cost of fill dirt per cubic yard is $7 to $12.
|Amount of Fill Dirt||Price (Materials Only)|
|1 Cubic Yard||$10 - $15|
|2 Cubic Yards||$15 - $25|
|3 Cubic Yards||$20 - $35|
|4 Cubic Yards||$30 - $50|
|5 Cubic Yards||$35 - $60|
|10 Cubic Yards||$70 - $120|
|20 Cubic Yards||$140 - $240|
|30 Cubic Yards||$210 - $360|
|40 Cubic Yards||$280 - $480|
|50 Cubic Yards||$350 - $590|
Fill dirt differs from topsoil, which homeowners need to bring in for a resloping job. Not every homeowner who regrades their yard needs a final layer of topsoil. However, if you are leveling your property to install landscaping, topsoil is a necessity. There is a simple reason for this. Fill dirt has little to no nutritional value for vegetative growth, and topsoil is nutrient-rich.
After the area is level, the contractor covers the entire sloped area with about two inches of topsoil. Topsoil price per yard is between $12 and $55. When talking about buying topsoil to fill an area, the terms “yard” and “cubic yard” are used interchangeably because topsoil always fills a three-dimensional area (cubic yard) and not a two-dimensional area (yard). One cubic yard of topsoil weighs about one ton, so topsoil cost per ton is the same as the cost to fill and level land per yard. The cost of topsoil per cubic yard does not typically include delivery. In most parts of the country, homeowners should count on delivery charges doubling the final prices.
|Amount of Topsoil||Price (Materials Only)|
|1 Cubic Yard||$12 - $55|
|2 Cubic Yards||$25 - $110|
|3 Cubic Yards||$35 - $165|
|4 Cubic Yards||$50 - $220|
|5 Cubic Yards||$60 - $275|
|10 Cubic Yards||$120 - $550|
|20 Cubic Yards||$240 - $1,050|
|30 Cubic Yards||$360 - $1,600|
|40 Cubic Yards||$480 - $2,100|
|50 Cubic Yards||$600 - $2,650|
Once the survey is complete and the contractor knows the level grade line, the construction crew adds fill dirt to the low points to reach the grade line and removes earth from the high points to do the same. The slope (percent of rise) determines the amount of work and time the construction phase will take. The type of soil that crews have to remove from high points impacts the price. Soils that are packed and rocky take longer to excavate than loose, loamy soil that is easier and lighter to move.
When the yard is level, landscapers add a layer of nutrient-rich topsoil over the fill dirt. Your landscaper then finishes the area with sod or other landscaping designs. The resloping process takes between six and ten hours, depending on the size of the yard and the severity of the slope to be corrected. The average labor cost to have a yard graded runs between $50 and $150 per hour.
However, prices vary based on the specific quality of the yard or property. The cost to level a sloped yard could be up to 25% more than a yard that is less sloped. The cost to level a bumpy lawn with lots of rocks and debris in the soil can also be 10 to 20% more than the average.
Suppose the area of your property that needs resloped is not accessible to earthmoving machinery like a backhoe. In that case, you will spend more on hourly labor to have the work done manually with wheelbarrows and shovels. You can expect to pay between $35 and $75 per hour for manual landscaping work like this.
If your soil is especially compact, hard, or rocky like in New England, excavation time will be longer than in the middle of the country known for loose and loamy soil. Homeowners should expect to foot the bill for a contractor’s additional equipment, such as a backhoe, which averages $150 and $500 a day to rent. Soil excavation costs per cubic yard or cost per cubic yard to remove dirt ranges on average between $50 and $200. The heavier the soil material, the higher the dirt excavation price. If the low areas of a yard do not require as much fill dirt as the amount excavated from the high points, that dirt needs to be removed completely.
The landscape leveling cost includes clean-up by the construction crew once the project is completed and fill dirt from on-site. It does not include extra fill dirt. The ground leveling cost does not include the price for a structural engineer to perform a land survey. Surveys average $600. Most construction prices will not include the actual landscaping design, which costs $8,000 to $15,000 for new construction.
Resloping land affects public property and potentially the property of your neighbors. You will want to have a land survey completed to ensure that you are only doing work within your property lines and have identified high points, low points, and existing infrastructure underground. The average price of a land survey is $600.
The first step to any resloping project is to have your property surveyed by a professional. They mark your property’s high and low points to determine the slope (also called the rise), the vertical difference between them. With these calculations, the surveyor determines the level grade line, the level at which water will not run downhill but instead evenly soak into the ground.
It is also important to have your property surveyed before the sloping begins because the surveyor identifies existing pipes, drains, and wires on the surface and beneath the ground. Depending on the job, some of this infrastructure needs to be relocated once grading is done. Keep in mind that a survey (especially if this is the first time the homeowner has had one done) reveals many surprises with the infrastructure below ground. These potential surprises should be accounted for in your budget. Moving a drain in your yard costs between $125 and $150 per drain line plus the contractor’s hourly rate, which is $75 to $130.
If you have invested the time and money to reslope your yard, you should also protect it from erosion. Plants are one of the best ways to control erosion because thick foliage provides a blanket to diffuse water droplets at the soil surface. Instead of roughly knocking the soil down, leaves disperse rain more gently. The best plants for this purpose include ground cover like Creeping Juniper and shrubs such as Forsythia. Homeowners should ask their landscapers about these options. The price of planting shrubs or ground cover varies depending on the species and the area to be planted.
Mulching a sloped area is also a way to protect from soil runoff. The mulch works in the same way as foliage. It deflects rain so that water hits the soil more evenly. The most expensive but effective way to protect from soil erosion is to build a retaining wall, which immediately tiers any slopes on your property and creates level ground. A retaining wall may be constructed of any material, but concrete is a popular choice to protect from erosion and improve drainage across a property.
The price to level a piece of land averages $1,500 to $2,600. However, in some cases, you might wish to both level the yard and add sod to it. Sodding the land creates a vibrant green lawn without the need to grow all the grass from a seed state. For the average yard, you can expect to pay about $5,800 to $7,200 for the sod itself. When you combine the price to level the yard, the final price ranges from $7,300 to $9,800. This is an excellent method of starting off a lawn for further landscaping.
Retaining walls are often installed on a property to prevent erosion on steep slopes. This may prevent the need to regrade the land again a few months after the initial regrading. When choosing to do this, the lawn grading cost increases by the amount for the retaining wall. The average retaining wall installation costs between $3,500 and $10,000, depending on the size and complexity of the project. The lawn leveling cost is around $1,500 to $2,600 to make the total $5,000 to $12,600. Having a retaining wall installed with your leveling project prevents you from needing to do the work after further landscaping projects.
Suppose you need to relocate an existing irrigation system after your yard has been resloped. Homeowners will pay between $40 and $100 per hour for a landscaper to relocate or replace a sprinkler system. If your landscaping is new and requires the installation of a sprinkler system, that price will be around $5,500 for ½ acre.
Don’t forget to factor in the price of the landscape design for your new resloped yard. The price of landscaping depends on many factors, such as the size of an area, foliage type, and extra decorative enhancements. On average, the price of landscaping ranges between $8,000 and $15,000.
If you live in an especially wet part of the country and are worried about drainage, a French drain is one of the best ways to ensure water flows away from any structures on your property. To install a French drain, a contractor digs a trench downhill, lays it with a perforated pipe, and places a drain at the very bottom. The trench is filled in around the pipe with loose rock and gravel. It is a simple solution that relies on gravity to stop water from pooling and causing a problem. It costs between $2,800 and $6,500 to install.
To regrade a 1,000 sq.ft. yard, costs range from $1,500 to $2,600, with most homeowners paying around $1,800. Prices can be as low as $550 and as high as $8,200.
Fill dirt costs $7 to $12 per yard. This type of dirt is located beneath topsoil. It does not contain organic material, so it is composed of stones, sand, rocks, and earth. It might be used to fill ground holes or change a property’s elevation.
Topsoil costs $12 to $55 per yard. Topsoil is the highest layer of soil and contains the most organic material. It tends to be darker than other soil due to being made up of air, minerals, water, and organic matter.
To grade an acre of land (43,560 sq.ft.) costs $15,000 to $45,000. This might be done before building a foundation of a home or other building, preparing for hardscaping or a new lawn, solving drainage issues, and avoiding erosion.
If you can regrade a tiny area of land with one person and a rake and do not require any digging or machinery, you can regrade your yard yourself. However, most projects are larger and more extensive. This requires the help of professionals who have the knowledge and tools needed to do the job correctly.
There are many options for landscaping a sloped yard to prevent soil erosion. These options include planting ground cover and shrubs, building a retaining wall, mulching, tiering with stairs, and building a rain garden.