How to Guide for Grading Your Lawn

Lawn maintenance is a constant work in progress. Whether you're preparing a new lawn, building a terrace or creating additional drainage, there are procedures that need to be done before reworking one's lawn. Failure to perform these essential procedures may result in a lawn's inability to reach its full potential.

Why Grade the Lawn

It's unnecessary to grade your lawn if it's well-established and not experiencing drainage problems. However, you may need to grade your lawn if you're either re-installing a lawn or installing a new lawn, building an addition to the home or attempting to correct drainage issues. A lack of drainage is an especially serious problem because if not corrected, drainage issues may result in swampy lawns, vegetation loss or damage to the foundation of your home.

Depending on the size of your lawn, grading can be time-consuming because it requires large scale movement of soil. In fact, you may need to rent a large piece of lawn care equipment to move the soil. In addition to possibly renting equipment, you will need to purchase a metal rake, shovel, and wheelbarrow to successfully grade your lawn.

Steps to Grading

There are several steps included in the grading process. First, determine the slope and direction of the grade because you don't want the grade leading into a neighbor's yard. Once you've decided where you want your grade to go, you must begin rough grading. Using a landscape rake, which has a wider set of tines than a regular hard garden rake, move the larger piles of soil approximately where they are going to go. Rough grading your lawn will help you pinpoint areas, like hills or depressions, which may need to be leveled.

After you've finished rough grading, you need to measure the grade by standing at the bottom of a graded area and estimating how far the grade has fallen over a certain area. You can do this by either using a tape measure or a leveling bar. To prevent erosion, you will want your lawn to slope down one foot in height for every 50 feet of length. Once all the lumps have been smoothed out and you've measured the grade, it is time to compact the soil using either a compacter or drum roller filled with water. In case you need additional soil to fill any spots that have settled, keep extra soil on hand. Once you've finished these four steps, you're ready to plant grass seed or soil.

Allow yourself some extra time if your lawn is large. Planning ahead may reduce the amount of frustration caused by grading. Although grading can be a lengthy process, it's needed to ensure that your lawn can properly grow.

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