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The Home Depot

How Much Does Landscape Grading Cost?

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Landscaping > How Much Does Landscape Grading Cost?
How Much Does Landscape Grading Cost?

Landscape grading and site preparation are essential aspects of construction, providing important structure to your home’s buildings, systems, and landscape features. Excavation and landscape contractors typically price this type of work according to the time needed and the amount of material moved to or from the site. It can cost between $50 and $300 per hour to operate each piece of machinery on the job, depending on local costs and the type of equipment, and fill gravel, stone, and topsoil may cost from $10 to $30 per cubic yard when delivered in bulk. The scope of your project and the condition of your land and soil contribute to costs for earthwork and grading.

  Landscape Grading Cost

Drainage Grading

Grading a site for proper drainage is an important step in construction and landscaping. Diverting storm and ground water away from buildings and high traffic areas can prevent erosion and water damage. In new construction settings, grading is done with heavy equipment while the site is accessible and generally costs between $800 and $3,000 on most homes. When improvements are needed to correct settling or inadequate drainage at an established site, limited access can make the work a little tougher and may require the use of smaller equipment. The extent of work and the amount of material needed to build correct slopes will affect project prices, which could range from $1,200 to $4,500 or more . No matter the job, the size of the site, the amount of material to move, and the equipment needed to accomplish the job will influence the bottom line.

Average Prices

Preparing to Build On-Grade

Decks, sheds, and patios require a stable surface to build on, even if they will be supported by in-ground piers. Surface preparation can usually be done with smaller machinery, such as a skid steer or tractor, which is less invasive than an excavator or bulldozer. The cost of preparation for building on grade will depend on the condition and accessibility of the site, as well as the overall size of the project. Basic leveling for a deck, patio, or shed slab may cost $500 to $800. If excavation, fill material, or drainage installation is needed, the price could reach $1,000 to $2,000.


Driveway Preparation Grading

Proper grading for a driveway prevents water collection that can cause damage to pavement or nearby structures. Grading is an essential part of driveway construction that must be completed prior to paving with concrete, asphalt, or pavers. Soil conditions and the size of your driveway will affect the costs of building a foundation layer and providing correct slope, but overall prices for grading in driveway preparation are between $1,000 and $3,000. Less preparation is usually required when replacing an existing driveway than when starting from scratch; driveway grading in new construction could cost 50 percent more than a rebuild. However, if removal of old surfacing is part of the job of replacing a driveway, the extra excavation and haul-away could bring costs toward the upper end of the scale.


Pond Preparation Grading

Building or enlarging a pond on your land can enhance your property in a number of ways. Some excavation is typically required for pond construction, but the scope of your design is the primary influence of project costs. Since the scope of a pond project can vary widely, the cost of the job can range from $500 to $8,000 or more. Small-scale water features may require less excavation but more finish grading than large livestock, irrigation, retention, or recreational ponds, which usually demand substantial changes to a landscape and are subject to strict permitting in most places.


Cost Comparisons

Low Average High
$400 - $800 $1,600 - $3,500 $3,800 - $8,500

Project scale and site access are everything when it comes to the cost of landscape grading. Bigger equipment can usually get the job done faster, but may not be practical for use in an established yard. See how a few common scenarios compare.

A Hand With Prep: $400 - $800

  • • Equipment: Getting a site ready for a DIY shed build calls for scraping sod and leveling a small area—good work for a skid steer.
  • • Time: The ground work on this job should take a half-day or less. At an hourly rate of $70 to $100 per hour the price is reasonable, but many pros charge a four-hour minimum to cover their overhead.
  • • Material: Not having to buy fill keeps the materials budget at zero, but hauling away sod can add up to $100 in disposal costs.

Drying Things Out: $1,600 - $3,500

  • • Equipment: Regrading to improve drainage is an important job, but it’s tough to offload and operate big machines in an established yard. A mid-sized tractor and skid steer are good choices for this job; running both machines will cost $150 to $250 per hour.
  • • Time: A more involved project like this could take a couple of days, bringing equipment costs to $1,200 to $3,000 or more.
  • • Material: Correcting the contour and slope on this job requires some fill material, along with topsoil to finish things off. Trucking in material adds at least $500 to the tab.

Starting Off Right: $3,800 - $8,500

  • • Equipment: Finish grading a lot after construction is a job for the big machines. Now is the time to take advantage of easy access for a loader or excavator to clear the way for a skid steer or tractor.
  • • Time: On a large lot, final grading could take several days. With total daily operating costs of $1,000 or more, it doesn’t take long for those big machines to take a toll on the bottom line.
  • • Material: Finish grading involves moving material left behind from excavation, so sometimes requires haul-away. Depending on the profile of the land, fill gravel may be needed to build up some areas and topsoil will be needed all over to get the site ready for a lush lawn.

Landscape Grading Services

Earthwork performed during construction has little impact on landscaping finishes, since it provides the foundation for hardscapes and planting. While grading projects performed on existing properties may affect lawns and gardens, the benefits of proper drainage and site preparation are usually well worth the disruption to landscaping features. No matter the scale of your project, a qualified pro will need a firsthand look at your site to provide you an accurate estimate for the job.

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