How Much Does Regrading a Yard Cost?

Regrading a yard can be a major landscaping project, but a worthwhile investment to improve your outdoor space. The cost to regrade a yard can vary quite a bit based on the size of your yard, the extent of the grading required, and any special site conditions. In general, expect to pay anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 to have a professional contractor regrade and reshape your yard to allow for better drainage and usability.

What Is Yard Regrading?

Yard regrading involves reshaping and recontouring the topography of your yard using earth moving equipment. The soil is literally moved around to create a new layout with a sloped grade that directs water runoff.

Here are some of the main reasons homeowners choose to have their yard regraded:

  • To fix drainage issues and prevent water from pooling in parts of the yard
  • To create a more usable flat yard space if the current layout has awkward hills or slopes
  • To direct water runoff away from the house foundation and structures
  • To prepare the yard for new landscaping features like patios, retaining walls, or gardens
  • To change the overall aesthetic and curb appeal by altering the yard’s shape and dimensions

Regrading typically requires bringing in additional soil or fill dirt to build up low areas, and excavating higher areas to create a new smooth grade. Essentially, it involves recontouring the yard to create better drainage and make the space more functional.

Factors That Determine Cost

Many variables affect the overall cost to regrade a yard. Key factors include:

Size of the Yard

The bigger the yard, the more time and materials it will take to do the grading work. Expect to pay more for multi-acre properties compared to smaller urban lots.

Extent of Grading Required

Simple slope adjustments may cost less than major wholesale changes to the yard’s shape. The more earth that must be moved, the greater the regrading expense.

Accessibility of the Site

It costs more to bring equipment into cramped or enclosed backyard spaces compared to open front yards. Ease of access for the contractor’s machinery affects the bid.

Soil Conditions

Hard, compacted soil is more difficult to excavate and move. The soil type and quality impacts the workload.

Drainage System

Complex drainage systems with French drains, catch basins, and underground pipes add to the project scope and overall regrading cost.

Retaining Walls

If retaining walls are needed to reshape the yard and manage significant changes in elevation, expect to pay more. These structural elements increase labor and materials.


Some regrading projects require permits from the city depending on the scale of work and local regulations. Permit fees add to the total cost.

Cost to Regrade Average Yard

For an average sized suburban yard of 4,000 to 8,000 square feet, expect to pay $3,000 to $7,000 to have the yard professionally regraded. Here’s a look at typical price ranges based on the extent of work required:

  • Minor regrading: $2,000 – $3,500
  • Moderate regrading: $3,500 – $5,000
  • Extensive regrading: $5,000 – $10,000+

With minor regrading, the overall yard layout stays generally the same. It involves basic slope adjustments, moving small amounts of soil, and evening out bumps or low spots.

Moderate regrading requires more significant earth moving, recontouring, filling in depressions, and re directing drainage. This makes substantial improvements to functionality.

Extensive regrading entails wholesale changes to the yard’s shape and topography. This may require bringing in extra fill, excavating and terracing hilly areas, installing retaining walls, and complex drainage considerations.

Regrading Cost Factors

On average, homeowners pay around $0.50 – $1.50 per square foot to have their yard regraded. However, many other cost factors come into play:

  • Labor: Around $50 – $100 per hour for operator and additional workers
  • Earthmoving equipment: $150 – $400 per day for rentals
  • Fill dirt: $25 – $50 per cubic yard delivered
  • Permits: $200 – $500 depending on location
  • Surveying: $300 – $700 to survey yard and develop grading plans
  • Erosion control: $500 – $1,500 for silt fencing and stabilization
  • Retaining walls: $20 – $50 per square foot for materials and installation
  • Drainage: $1,000 – $5,000+ for drainage system upgrades
  • Landscaping: $500 – $5,000+ to restore landscaping elements
  • Mobilization fees: $500 – $1,000 for setup, breakdown, and transport
  • Design work: $50 – $200 per hour for drafting and engineering

These variables make each regrading project unique in terms of requirements and pricing. Get an itemized quote detailing all projected costs from contractors before proceeding.

DIY Regrading vs Hiring a Professional

Some homeowners tackle regrading as a DIY project to save on costs. However, this is only realistic for smaller yards requiring minimal soil redistribution. Attempting extensive regrading yourself requires renting equipment, understanding grading techniques, getting proper permits, and handling a ton of manual labor.

There are several benefits to hiring a professional contractor:

  • Experience: Contractors have the skills and experience to regrade yards efficiently
  • Equipment: They have the heavy machinery required to move soil and rock around
  • Efficiency: The work can be completed much faster than a DIY project
  • Planning: A pro can survey the site, draw up plans, and calculate the soil volumes needed
  • Drainage: They know how to regrade the yard for proper drainage
  • Permits: The contractor handles all permitting paperwork with the city
  • Warranty: Professional work usually comes with a warranty or satisfaction guarantee

Unless you have access to earthmoving equipment and some landscaping expertise, extensive regrading is best left to the pros. But you can save on smaller projects by doing it yourself over time.

What’s Involved in the Regrading Process?

Regrading a yard is a major undertaking and dirt moving operation. Here is an overview of what’s involved in the typical regrading process:

Survey and Planning

  • Initial site survey to take elevation measurements and document the existing landscape
  • Evaluating drainage issues and identifying improvements needed
  • Drafting a new grading plan showing the proposed contour changes

Permits and Preparation

  • Applying for local permits for the earthmoving work if required based on project scale
  • Installing erosion control barriers like silt fencing to protect surrounding areas
  • Laying down protective coverings in landscaped zones that need to be preserved

Grading and Earthmoving

  • Removing existing grass, plants, and other landscaping features in the regrading zones
  • Excavating and moving soil with machinery like backhoes, graders, and mini excavators
  • Hauling off excess soil or bringing in any fill dirt needed
  • Fine grading to achieve the proper contours and slope grades

Drainage and Features

  • Installing drainage components like French drains, catch basins, and underground pipes
  • Building retaining walls, stairs, or other structures to manage elevation changes
  • Reshaping berms, swales, and water diversion contours

Finishing Touches

  • Spreading fresh topsoil and reseeding or laying new sod
  • Reinstalling irrigation systems and landscaping features like trees and gardens
  • Applying erosion control blankets or hydroseeding to reestablish vegetation
  • Cleanup and hauling away machinery, leftover materials, and debris

The regrading process takes heavy equipment and several days to several weeks depending on the size of the yard and extent of the earthmoving required.

Best Time to Regrade a Yard

It’s best to plan your yard regrading project during the drier seasons of the year. Here are some pros and cons for different times of year:



  • Soil is drier making earthmoving easier
  • Cooler temperatures are better for workers and equipment
  • Plants and dormant grass will recover quickly after regrading


  • Increased chance of sudden heavy rains that can cause erosion issues
  • Wet ground from snowmelt can hinder access and soil work



  • Warm weather provides ideal conditions for establishing new grass from seed
  • Generally drier weather


  • Hot temperatures challenging for the work crew
  • Lack of rain can make vegetation recovery difficult
  • Thunderstorms bring risk of erosion from sudden intense rain



  • Drier soil conditions due to less rainfall
  • Cooler weather suitable for workers and equipment


  • Less time for grass to establish before winter freeze sets in
  • Increased chance of winds that can erode unprotected soil



  • Frozen ground provides solid base for heavy equipment access


  • Difficult earthmoving when soil is wet or frozen
  • Reseeding grass will have limited success in winter
  • Exposure risks increase for workers in cold weather
  • Storms can create hazardous conditions

Schedule your regrading project for either spring or fall if possible. This takes advantage of moderate temperatures and lower rainfall.

How to Prepare for Yard Regrading

Proper planning and preparation can streamline your regrading project. Here are some tips:

  • Remove obstacles – Clear out any structures, trees, or boulders from the regrading area. Relocate small plants and other landscaping elements you want preserved.
  • Install barriers – Put up silt fencing around the perimeter to contain loose soil and divert runoff from surrounding areas. Cover sensitive plants with filter fabric.
  • Manage drainage – Ensure downspouts and swales carry water away from the work zone. Address any wet spots that could hinder equipment access.
  • Get permits – If required based on the regrading scale, obtain permits from local authorities so work can proceed legally.
  • Photograph progress – Take pictures before, during, and after the regrading so you have a visual record if any issues arise.
  • Remove turf – Eliminate existing grass and vegetation from areas being excavated or filled to prevent buried plant matter from decomposing.
  • Stockpile topsoil – Scrape off any topsoil you want to reuse and create stockpiles in designated areas.
  • Prevent erosion – Use straw wattles, silt fencing and other measures to keep soil contained until new vegetation takes root.

Proper planning makes the disruptive regrading process go as smoothly as possible and sets up your yard for successful restoration.

Regrading Techniques and Best Practices

There are some key grading techniques professionals use to ensure proper drainage and a smooth finished grade:

  • Cut and fill – Material is excavated from high areas and deposited in low spots that need built up. This balances the soil redistribution.
  • Slope grades – The ideal slope is 2-3% grade away from structures for adequate runoff without erosion. Proper slope gradients also prevent water pooling.
  • Swales and berms – Long, gentle mounded ridges called berms can redirect water flow. Swales are channels that give runoff a route away from the yard.
  • Stormwater management – French drains, catch basins, and underground drainage pipes carry away excess water.
  • Subsurface preparation – Compact and stabilize sub layers underneath new fill dirt to prevent settling shifts.
  • Erosion barriers – Use diversion channels, silt fencing, erosion blankets, and hydroseeding to stabilize bare soil against wind and rainfall erosion.
  • Gradual contours – Smooth, gradual slopes look more natural. Avoid sharp angles or sudden drop-offs.
  • Topsoil and seeding – Finishing with quality topsoil provides ideal growing medium for establishing new grass or plants.

Proper regrading is part science and part art. An experienced contractor will know how to shape the yard for ideal drainage and aesthetics.

Cost to Fix Improper Grading

Improper yard grading can lead to drainage problems, foundation damage, and unsafe conditions. If your yard’s current grading is faulty, here are typical costs to fix issues:

  • Minor regrading repairs: $2,000 – $3,500
  • Moderate grading repairs: $3,500 – $6,000
  • Major drainage repairs: $6,000 – $10,000
  • French drain system: $1,500 – $5,000
  • Foundation waterproofing: $3,000 – $8,000
  • Erosion repair and stabilization: $2,000 – $4,000

The cost to correct improper grading can approach the price of full yard recontouring and recreation. It’s wise to have professionals handle the grading work from the start to avoid expensive fixes later.

Hiring a Reputable Grading Contractor

Carefully vet and choose drainage contractors before starting a big regrading project:

  • Check reviews – Online reviews and references can reveal issues with past grading jobs. Look for consistent 5-star ratings.
  • Verify licensing – Make sure the contractor has an active license and insurance for this type of earthmoving work. Ask to see documentation.
  • Get multiple bids – Talk to at least 3 contractors and compare itemized quotes. Be wary of extremely lowball bids.
  • Review portfolio – Look at photos of grading projects the contractor has completed to assess the quality of work.
  • Confirm experience – Ask how many years they have been doing yard regrading specifically. More experience is better.
  • Check qualifications – Reputable regrading pros should have certification from the ICPI in best drainage practices.
  • Verify availability – Ask how far out the contractor is booking jobs to ensure they can dedicate proper time to your project.

Vetting contractors thoroughly on the front end prevents problems and ensures your yard regrading work proceeds as planned.

DIY Regrading Tips

While hiring a pro is recommended for full yard regrading, you can tackle minor slope adjustments yourself if you prepare properly. Here are some DIY regrading tips:

  • Use landscaping rakes and shovels for small dirt moving jobs rather than machinery.
  • Make gradual slope changes no more than 6 inches deep to prevent major disruption.
  • Add compost and rototill it into the soil if you need to increase raised area drainage.
  • Water down freshly graded areas regularly to compact soil until grass is established.
  • Spread straw or erosion matting over disturbed areas to prevent loss of loose soil.
  • Transplant small plants and flowers from the regrade zone into pots temporarily until work is done.
  • Consider renting a mini excavator for larger DIY grading projects to dig swales and move soil efficiently.
  • Work in sections over a period of days or weeks rather than tackling everything all at once.
  • Always call 811 before digging to have underground utility lines marked to avoid damaging them.

With proper planning and preparation, minor regrading work can certainly be a DIY project for motivated and physically fit homeowners.

Key Takeaways

  • Expect to pay $3,000 to $7,000 on average to have a typical 5,000-8,000 square foot yard regraded by a professional contractor.
  • The total cost depends heavily on the size of your yard, how much earthmoving is required, and whether complex drainage work is necessary.
  • Regrading is recommended to improve yard drainage, usability, and aesthetics by recontouring the landscape.
  • While smaller slope adjustments can be DIY projects, extensive regrading requires heavy equipment and professional know-how.
  • Prepare your yard properly before major earthmoving work begins to streamline the regrading process.
  • Hire a well qualified contractor with extensive experience, licensing, certifications, and great reviews.
  • Improper grading can lead to very expensive repairs down the road, so it’s wise to invest in quality work upfront.

Regrading has the potential to completely transform your yard by solving drainage issues, creating useful flat spaces, and improving the overall appearance. With proper planning using experienced contractors, you can achieve excellent results and better enjoy your outdoor living space.

Frequently Asked Questions About Regrading a Yard

How much slope is needed to regrade a yard?

A 2% to 3% slope grade is typically recommended when regrading a yard for optimal drainage. This means dropping 2 to 3 feet in elevation over a distance of 100 feet. The exact slope depends on the soil type and site conditions.

Can I do minor yard regrading myself?

Small slope adjustments, filling in low spots, or moving small amounts of dirt can potentially be DIY regrading projects. But anything beyond minor earthmoving requires professional equipment and expertise for best results.

Does regrading a yard improve drainage?

Yes, the main reason to regrade a yard is to improve drainage issues by reshaping the landscape. Creating a smooth downward slope with swales and berms directs water runoff away from structures.

How long does it take to regrade a yard?

The regrading timeline depends on the size of the yard and extent of earthmoving required. Small projects may take 1-3 days. Full recontouring of larger yards can take 1-2 weeks.

Should I regrade my yard before building a house?

Yes, regrading first provides an ideal blank slate yard with proper drainage slope ideal for constructing your home. Trying to regrade around a finished house is much harder.

Can you regrade a yard without changing the elevation?

Some minor regrading can be done without altering elevation, such as smoothing bumps or filling in low spots. But any major reshaping requires lowering high areas and building up low areas.

How soon can I seed grass after regrading a yard?

After finishing the soil work, you can seed or sod right away. The fresh soil provides ideal growing medium for new grass. Water frequently until established.

What equipment is used to regrade a yard?

Common earthmoving