How Much Does Leveling a Yard Cost?


Written by:  Howmuchisit.org Staff
Last Updated:  August 8, 2018

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Leveling a yard, often referred to as yard grading, will be performed to remove lumps, bumps and unsightly hills in a yard, creating a level surface.

Oftentimes, this unlevel surface can create serious foundation damage because the yard isn’t draining the way it should.

The price for leveling a yard depends on several factors such as the contractor, the size of the yard, the type of soil, geographical location and complexity of the job.

 

Bravo Company, 70th Brigade Engineer Bat by U.S. Army Alaska, on Flickr
Bravo Company, 70th Brigade Engineer Bat” (CC BY 2.0) by U.S. Army Alaska

How much does it cost to level a yard?

On average, plan on spending anywhere from $50 to $150 per hour, depending on the contractor and what kind of equipment is needed.  While the procedure is rather simple, the labor is what is going to cost the most.  According to our research, a simple job will often be around $500 to $800, while a more complex job that takes a few days can be in the $2,500 to $5,500 range.  These estimates should include the fill dirt, the professional labor and the equipment.

However, if heavy vegetation or a steeper than average slope exists, these average costs can go up.  The same can be said about the soil.  If the soil were rocky and hard to excavate, it could be much more than a rich soil that’s easy to dig.

As you can see, there are so many factors involved, and since every project can vary, it can be hard to pinpoint an exact cost.

One professional Angie’s List interviewed said he usually charges $1,000 to $6,000 for most residential jobs.

According to a discussion on DSLReports.com, forum members said this procedure can be performed for $5,000 to $20,000 depending on the size of the area that needs to be filled with dirt.

LawnSite.com shows the price for the job ranges anywhere from $14 to $30 per yard, but this estimate does not include the fill dirt that will be used to level the yard.

Type of JobAverage Costs
Hiring a professional with heavy equipment$75 to $175 per hour / $500 to $1,200 per day at a minimum.
Manual labor with a landscaping service$35 to $75 per hour
DIY Rental$100 to $250 for Bobcat-like tractor with attachment
Additional topsoil for filling$8 to $20+ per cubic foot

Leveling a yard overview

Before the grading begins, your contractor will be able to visit the location, take measurements and create a planning document, which he or she will give to the local government for permits, if necessary.  They will also have the utility lines and any underground lines marked, usually by the city.

Once the procedure starts, all debris will be removed from the area, including any trees, vegetation and grass.  A layer will then be stripped using a scraper that’s usually dragged by a tractor, and if any of the topsoil is usable, it will be set aside for the final stages.

If heavy equipment is required, many contractors will have an hourly minimum, ranging anywhere from two to eight hours.

What are the extra costs?

Planting grass or laying sod can be an additional expense if you need a professional to install it.  Sod, on average, can cost $1 per square foot to have professionally installed.

In the initial quote, the fill dirt may not be included, only the leveling.  The price for the dirt ranges from $8 to $20+ per cubic yard, depending on where you live.  For every 1,000 square feet, you need about 10 cubic yards of soil.  This soil will be needed if the current soil on your land is of poor quality or if a steep slope has to be filled.

When adding soil, contractors will add metal braces if the sloping is at risk of erosion.  These braces can cost $10 to $20 per four-foot section.

In some circumstances, a French drain may be needed to take the water away from the foundation.  These drains, once dug and buried, can cost $800 to $1,500.

Depending on where you live and how large the job is, a grading permit may be required, which can cost anywhere from $50 to $1,000, depending on the scope of the project.  However, most jobs should be less than $400.

In some circumstances, a land survey may be needed to avoid crossing the neighbor’s property line.  If this needs to be done, it can cost $250 to $500.

Tips to know

To prevent water from flowing back toward the foundation, the lawn should drop an inch at least every four feet.

How to level a yard

How can I save money?

One of the best ways to save money is to do the leveling yourself.  This can help you remove costly labor costs from the bill.  GardenWeb has a simple step by step guide instructing homeowners how to level a yard properly.

If possible, consider renting equipment locally.  If you already have a tractor, a scraper attachment can cost $50 to $80 per day, whereas a small backhoe can cost $100 to $250 per day, depending on the size and where you live.

If hiring a professional, consider getting multiple quotes from contractors on HomeAdvisor.com.  Here, you simply describe your job and contractors will get in touch to let you know what it may cost.

Fixr.com recommends creating a rain garden instead of re-sloping your yard.  These gardens are designed to hold the water and reabsorb into the ground.  If you were to consider building one, the materials would cost $3 to $5 per square feet, according to the website.


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  1. Rena paid $0 and said:

    You can basically do all of this yourself and save money. There are several companies out there that help you

    Was it worth it? No

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