Setting It Straight: How Much It Costs to Level a Yard

Matt Marandola
Written by Matt Marandola
Reviewed by Tara Dudley
Updated May 12, 2022
Young boy in grassy backyard with play set in background
Photo: Annie Otzen / DigitalVision / Getty Images

On average, it costs around $2,000 to level a yard

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The cost to level a yard will fluctuate depending on the slope, how much dirt you need, and whether or not you need a retaining wall. Expect to pay anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000, though your costs could be steeper, depending on how much work you need to straighten out your space. If you have a smaller space, like a yard, patio, or pool area, it can cost as little as $500 for leveling services.

Leveling a yard is excellent when you think about it—no more pushing uphill with the lawnmower, no more tripping and stumbling, and you’re likely saving your foundation down the road.

How Much Does It Cost to Level a Yard?

Because you will be working with three dimensions rather than just two, you need to measure this job in cubic yards. Expect to pay around $15 per cubic yard when regrading a yard.

How much dirt you need is determined by the slope of the lawn. The larger the slope you’re looking to regrade, the more soil you’ll need. 

Someone with a shallow slope that only needs to be raised a few degrees may only spend around $400 for dirt. But someone that needs to raise the ground 10 or more degrees may be looking at spending $1,000 and up.

Hiring a local landscaping grading company can help ensure you get the right grade the first time around. Guessing and regrading again can cost upwards of $400 for each regrade—not to mention the time and backaches.

Cost to Level by Project

ProjectCost
Whole yard$1,000 – $5,000
Pool$200 – $850
Patio or deck$500 – $1,000
Slope removal $1,000 – $5,000

Yard Grading Cost

The amount you’ll pay for grading depends heavily on your project, from patios to pools. 

Here’s a look at common grading costs: 

  • $500–$1,000: Small projects like grading for a foundation wall, patio, or pool. 

  • $1,000–$5,000: Large projects like leveling for new construction, regrading your home, or grading your full backyard.

  • $1–$2 per square foot: Rough grading costs for yard contouring for drainage or removing a slope. 

  • $0.40–$1: Fine or finish grading project costs for smoothing or leveling the top 1–3 inches of soil 

Yard Leveling and Grading Cost Factors

backyard with patches of garden and fence in background
Photo: Jacky Parker Photography / Moment / Getty Images

At the risk of stating the obvious, you’re undergoing a major landscaping project. You may need to clear the land of trees, choose to purchase sod, and take into account any permits that go into the project.

Labor

Labor for grading a yard is around $50 per hour. If the landscaping company you hire needs to clear the land, dig out any areas, and then put in the dirt, you’re looking at around 12 to 24 hours worth of labor. This will bring the total cost of labor to about $900 on average.

Land Clearing

Trees, boulders, and any landscaping are likely going to need to be removed. The cost to clear land is around $750 to $2,300, depending on how many trees you have on your property. Rocks are also a factor. The cost to remove a boulder runs about $900 on average. More trees and larger trees significantly raise the price, as it requires extensive safety precautions to keep the tree clear of structures (and people).

Sod

There’s no way around it: Leveling will do a number on your lawn. Unless you want your new level yard to look like a desert, you should put in fresh sod to make the lawn look up to par again. The cost of sod installation for an entire yard is around $1,850, so your price may be lower if you’re only resodding a portion.

Another option: Hydroseeding. “Hydroseeding is grass seed mixed with water and then sprayed onto the lawn,” explains Tara Dudley, Expert Review Board member and landscape designer. “It requires less water initially and is easier to establish. Plus, you can customize the seed mix for the type of lawn you are trying to establish, whether in the shade or sun.”

Permits

Grading typically requires permits and inspections to make sure you avoid damaging underground pipes and wires. If anything happens to them, you or your entire street could be without water or electricity—and that’s not a great way to score points with the neighbors. Permits will cost around $100 to $500, depending on the city and county where you live.

You also need to call your underground utility company before you proceed so they can mark out the lines, Dudley advises.

Landscaping

Once your yard is level, you can start landscaping. One of the biggest benefits of clearing out land and leveling is that you have a blank slate to create your dream garden. So if you always wanted that lime tree to pick fresh limes for Taco Tuesday, now’s your chance.

The cost of landscaping sits at around $4,000, depending on how big of a project you’re looking to do. You can cut down on this cost by planting trees and shrubs yourself, but it still might be worth it to call a landscaper for a consultation who can give pointers and help with placement.

Retaining Walls

To prevent erosion on steep slopes, you may need to build a retaining wall. A retaining wall costs around $5,350 on average. While the cost is steep (no pun intended), it will save your lawn from needing another leveling within a few months. And, Dudley says, doing retaining wall work now will save you from having to tear up that beautiful new lawn later on.

How Much Does It Cost to Level a Yard Yourself?

While you can DIY a yard leveling, it isn’t recommended unless you’re familiar with using a grader and have the time. Leveling an area on your own can be backbreaking work, and there’s no guarantee of success because the yard can shift and destroy all of your progress. You’re also messing with the ground around the foundation of your home, which can lead to serious problems.

If you’re good to go to handle it, though, here are the items you’ll need:

  • String level: $2

  • Grader: $550 per day

  • Dirt: $15 per cubic yard

  • Sod: $1–$2 per square foot

  • Sod cutter: $1,000

  • Shovel: $8

  • Stakes: $7 for a pack of 6

  • Permits: $300

If you’re tackling this project yourself, expect this to take around five to seven days to complete. You can speed up this project if you have access to an excavator and other heavy machinery. But again, we recommend saving yourself the sunburn and headache and leave this job to the professionals.

FAQs About Leveling a Yard

How do you regrade around the foundation of a home?

Regrading around your home’s foundation requires you to stay four inches below the top of the foundation and four inches below the bottom of the siding. Too high and heavy rain will make its way into your home; too low, and you may experience an increase in critters and pests.

Why would someone level a yard?

People level their yards for practical and cosmetic purposes. While you may level your yard to build a deck, another person may level theirs to simply have a flat lawn.

What is the difference between grading and leveling a yard?

Grading refers to the sloping of your yard away from your house’s foundation. It’s a landscaping term you probably know well if you’ve ever had to push your lawn mower up a steep slope.

Leveling is the solution to grading issues since it involves making your yard flat and smooth (and easy to push a lawn mower through).

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