Spring DIY Property Grading Checklist

The grading around a foundation is the level of the ground. This is one of the main factors for where rain and snowmelt will flow. You’ll want the grade to slope away from the foundation, and you’ll want to make sure it’s good when springtime comes.

Luckily, checking property grading is something you can do yourself! Use this checklist when the weather heats up to make sure your foundation is covered. 

Measuring The Grading Around Your Home


The first activity to check off your list is checking the grading of the land around your foundation. To find the slope away from your home, gather the following items:


  • A piece of string or twine roughly 12 feet long
  • Two stakes and a hammer or mallet to pound them into the ground.
  • A tape measure
  • A line level that is designed to fit on a piece of string


Put Stake 1 into the ground right next to your foundation and tie one end of the string loosely around it. Slide the string down Stake 1 so that it rests at ground level. Measure out 10 feet straight away from the Stake 1, tie the string around your second stake, and pound it into the ground. The string between them should be tight, but you should still be able to adjust it on the take.


Slide the string up or down Stake 2 to level it. Put your level at the mid-point of the string between the two stakes. Adjust the string up or down on Stake 2 to make it level and measure the distance from the string on Stake 2 to the ground. 


The measurement of the string should be six inches or more – this is the ideal grade, what we call “positive grading,” and you don’t have to worry about changing it. If it’s less than six inches, this is “negative grading,” and you should re-grade the soil near the foundation.


What To Look For Around The Foundation


Even if the average grading of the lawn is proper, there can be small patches of ground that are uneven. These can affect and prevent the flow of water away from your basement walls. After you’ve finished measuring the grade, do a thorough walk around of the perimeter of your home and check the following:


  • If you see pools of water or evidence of pooling – depressions in the soil, runoff accumulation, etc. – then you know there is a grading problem.


  • Look at your wider property and see if there is any standing water on your property. Pools of water are a sign that you have improper grading around your home caused by other drainage issues like clogged gutters and short downspouts. You’ll also have to deal with mosquitoes during the summer!


  • If you don’t notice anything improper in the soil, check on the foundation while it’s raining. Note how the rain flows off your roof, and if the water is collecting near the home, the grading should be corrected.


How Can I Fix Improper Grading?


Negative grading is a fairly cheap fix, and it can be as simple as bringing in soil from another part of your property. If you have to add soil from an exterior source, use topsoil or grading soil, as these will keep much of the water at grade level until it has a chance to flow away from your foundation. The soil must be dense and have a positive grading!



Re-grading can be a bridge too far for some DIYers. If you need help fixing the level of the soil around your foundation, call the Ashworth team to give you a hand!