Lawn & Garden

How Much Does It Cost to Level a Yard?

At $1,006 to $3,237, or an average of $2,122, the cost to level a yard may seem steep, but it can be worth it to prevent myriad problems on a homeowner’s property.
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Cost to Level a Yard
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Highlights

  • It typically costs between $1,006 and $3,237 to level a yard, with a national average cost of $2,122.
  • There are several factors that affect the cost to level a yard, including the size and slope of the yard, the type of project the yard is being leveled for, the cost for land clearing and prep work, the accessibility of the jobsite, the type and amount of fill dirt or topsoil used, and the cost of labor.
  • A homeowner may need to level their yard if they notice high erosion levels, gradually exposed tree roots, pooling water, mold or fungus growth, or the yard sloping toward the foundation.
  • Leveling a yard is hard work that needs to be done correctly, which is why it’s often recommended for a homeowner to hire a professional for this project.
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A sloped and bumpy lawn is not only unattractive, but it can also lead to safety hazards and some major drainage problems on a property. Uneven yards result from drainage issues, pipe leaks, and pests disturbing roots underground. If this problem is not addressed, the home’s foundation can be damaged, the basement can flood, and water can pool in spots. Fortunately, a solution exists for a reasonable price. Also known as resloping, yard leveling reshapes the ground on a property by using heavy equipment such as bulldozers, backhoes, and skid steer loaders to remove the ground’s surface, level the soil underneath, and cover it back up with new topsoil. The process results in easier lawn maintenance, efficient water use, better drainage, improved curb appeal, and a safer yard to enjoy. According to Angi and HomeAdvisor, the average cost to level a yard is $2,122, with a typical cost range between $1,006 and $3,237.

Yard Leveling vs. Yard Grading

Cost to Level a Yard
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Although many people mistakenly use the terms “leveling” and “grading” interchangeably, they actually have different meanings. Yard grading is the process of sloping a yard away from the home’s foundation to ensure proper water drainage. The surface of the yard is physically altered, often involving moving dirt from the highest areas of the yard to the lowest points to contour the land and remove the slope. Land leveling is a form of grading that results in a smooth, even surface of the lawn. This is done for both aesthetics and to make the lawn easier to mow. Both of these landscaping techniques help make a property more stable, and they can be done separately or at the same time.

Factors in Calculating the Cost to Level a Yard

Leveling a yard is a complicated project, and many factors affect the total cost. Yard size is one of the most important factors, in addition to slope inclination, site accessibility, and more. When homeowners are looking into the costs for a new lawn and leveling is part of the equation, they’ll want to consider the following cost factors.

Yard Size

The size of the area that needs to be leveled will have a major impact on the total cost of the project. Two different types of measurements are taken by contractors to determine the budget for a project. The first is based on square footage of the area to be leveled. Homeowners with an average-size yard between 5,000 and 10,000 square feet can expect to pay $1 to $2 per square foot to level the yard.

The second way to measure for leveling is per acre. Costs to level a yard start at $3,000 for a 1/5-acre lot and can go as high as $45,000 for 1 acre. These prices include labor, material, and equipment, but not additional fill dirt that may be needed. The following table lists the average cost to level a yard by size.

Yard SizeAverage Cost to Level
250 square feet$250 to $500
500 square feet$500 to $1,000
1,000 square feet$1,000 to $2,000
⅕ acre$3,000 to $9,000
½ acre$7,500 to $22,500
1 acre$15,000 to $45,000

Pros might also charge by the hour to complete the project. The cost to level a yard is typically between $40 and $180 per hour.

Slope Inclination

How much the direction of the current slope needs to change also dictates the total price of the job. For lawns that have a steep slope in one direction that needs to go in the opposite direction, there is a greater cost than one that only needs slight resloping. The cost takes into account the amount of fill dirt needed to level the ground. The following are average prices based on the different types of hills.

Slope InclinationAverage Cost
28.7 percent and above$1,800 to $5,000
17.6 percent to 26.8 percent$1,000 to $2,500
0 percent to 15.8 percent$400 to $1,800

Contractors often provide quotes based on the change in elevation. The following table shows price estimates based on resloping a 1,000-square-foot yard.

Slope HeightAverage Cost
1 foot$1,000 to $1,200
2 feet$1,300 to $1,500
3 feet$1,600 to $1,800
4 feet$1,900 to $2,100
5 feet$2,200 to $2,400

Project Type

Price will certainly fluctuate depending on the type of leveling project. This is because of the variations in size, complexity, labor hours, and equipment needed. The following are average costs of the most common leveling projects.

Project TypeAverage Cost
Grading for a driveway installation$1,000 to $5,125
Leveling for a patio or deck installation$670 to $4,500
Grading for a pool installation$200 to $850
Regrading around a house$835 to $3,000
Removing a hill$1,000 to $5,000

Land Clearing and Prep Work

Before a yard-leveling project can begin, the land needs to be cleared. Trees, tree stumps, bushes, boulders, and other landscaping will be removed. The cost to clear land is in the range of $1,359 to $5,572. Just removing a single tree can cost between $300 and $2,000, and removing a tree stump costs $100 to $400. The more trees there are and the larger they are, the higher the price. Homeowners will want to also factor in the cost of hiring a hauling company to remove all the debris. If the property needs to be excavated, that will cost in the ballpark of $2,700.

Site Accessibility

Accessibility to the area being leveled also factors into price and whether the job can be completed successfully. Contractors need to be able to bring in excavators, trucks, and other heavy equipment to the property to level the yard. Impediments such as walls, tool sheds, and boulders can make it more challenging and costly for contractors to complete the job.

Fill Dirt and Topsoil

Since topsoil is removed during the leveling process, it must be replaced with a new layer before homeowners can seed grass or plant flowers. In addition, there may be spots in the yard that need to be filled in; fill dirt, which is a rocky material, is ideal for packing pockets in the ground. Fill dirt costs $5 to $15 per cubic yard. Topsoil then goes down over the fill dirt and costs between $12 and $55 per cubic yard. Topsoil is pricier because it is filled with nutrients to nourish the lawn and garden. There are varying qualities of topsoil; homeowners can expect to pay more for high-quality brands.

Labor

Lawn-leveling providers typically charge around $50 per hour. To clear the land, dig out target areas, and replace the dirt, it takes 12 to 24 hours worth of work, bringing the average cost to around $900. However, some companies charge as much as $150 per hour.

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Additional Costs and Considerations

Besides the factors mentioned above, there are several additional costs and considerations that homeowners may not be aware of when planning a yard-leveling project. These add-ons, such as permits, land surveying, landscaping, and irrigation, will ultimately increase the budget for the entire project.

Land Surveying

Before embarking on a yard-leveling project, it’s important for a homeowner to budget for topographic land survey costs. While a survey may be required depending on local ordinances, it is a smart step to take regardless to ensure the work will not impact a neighbor’s property. The survey provides helpful information including property boundaries, slope gradients, high points, and low points. It also sheds light on existing underground infrastructure such as pipes, drains, and wires that could impact the leveling project. A land survey costs between $376 and $745, depending on location, land size, and terrain complexity.

Permits

Because leveling involves working with heavy machinery, excavating dirt, and performing underground work that could disturb pipes and wires, a permit may be required. Homeowners will want to check with their local municipality and contractor about whether permits are necessary, and if so, which ones. Permits cost in the range of $100 to $500 in most areas, and the cost depends on the location and project size.

Resodding

After the ground-leveling project is complete, the lawn will need some additional care to get it back to looking vibrant and lush. The reality is that the lawn will be torn up in order to level it. Therefore, it will be necessary to lay fresh sod to refresh the lawn. The cost to resod an entire yard is around $1,850 or $1 to $2 per square foot.

Hydroseeding

As another option to resodding, hydroseeding can be done to replenish the yard after it is leveled. Hydroseeding is a fast, cost-effective, eco-friendly way to jump-start a new lawn that will boost a home’s curb appeal. This method involves spraying a slurry consisting of grass seed, water, mulch, and fertilizer to grow a lush lawn. Hydroseeding is reasonably priced and presents many benefits, such as quick and easy installation, uniform lawn coverage, and healthy germination. The cost of a new lawn using hydroseeding ranges from $500 to $4,000, with a national average cost of $1,000.

Erosion Control

Unfortunately, digging up the ground and moving soil around during the leveling process can result in erosion problems. After investing the time and money to level a yard, it is imperative that erosion-control measures are put into place to protect the work. Hiring one of the best gardening services (or taking on the project as a DIY task) is one of the best ways to prevent erosion since planting vegetation, such as creeping juniper and forsythia, helps diffuse water droplets at the soil surface. Mulching a sloped area also protects against soil runoff by deflecting water so it hits the soil more evenly. Mulching costs around $160 to $300. Another option is to use a slope erosion-control grid to prevent erosion and soil migration, which costs $1 to $2 per square foot. Finally, the most effective yet expensive way to manage erosion is to install a retaining wall to improve drainage throughout the property. Retaining walls cost $5,350 on average.

Grass and Landscaping

Whether or not there was landscaping before the leveling project, after the yard-leveling project is complete, a homeowner may need to budget for new landscaping costs. Many homeowners forget about this hefty added-on expense. Landscaping costs around $4,000 but depends on the size of the yard; complexity of the landscaping design; location; and the specific plants, trees, and flowers chosen. Depending on the complexity of the landscape, the homeowner may also want to budget for landscape design costs. The following is the cost of specific landscaping projects for homeowners to keep in mind.

Landscaping ProjectAverage Cost
Building a pond$1,200 to $5,500
Installing sod$1,050 to $2,800
Landscape curbing$750 to $1,850
Seeding a lawn$400 to $1,600

Irrigation System Installation

During a leveling project, the contractor may need to remove or relocate the existing irrigation system. To install a new automatic sprinkler system, homeowners can expect to pay in the range of $1,000 to $4,000. Total cost will be impacted by the type of irrigation system selected, size of the lawn, current landscaping, and the number of zones in the yard. To have the irrigation system relocated by a pro after the yard is leveled will cost $40 to $100 per hour.

French Drain Installation

Although leveling is meant to keep water away from a home’s foundation, installing a drainage system in the yard may still be necessary to protect the lawn, trees, and flower beds from standing water, especially for homeowners who live in wet areas. A French drain sits under the exterior landscape to control groundwater and prevent puddling, pooling, and flooding. Installing a French drain costs between $500 and $18,000, depending on the size, style, and condition of the property. Homeowners may wonder who to call for yard drainage problems; these issues can typically be identified and remedied by a professional landscaping company.

Cost to Level a Yard
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Cost to Level a Yard by Project Type

With a multitude of reasons to level a yard, it is also important for homeowners to understand the different types of leveling projects to anticipate and what each entails and costs. Whether for driveway installation, fence installation, or to flatten a hill, a graded yard can make a huge difference in addressing uneven land on a property. The following are the average costs to level a yard for different types of projects.

Project TypeCost to Level Yard
Driveway installation$800 to $9,500
Fence installation$900 to $3,000
Flattening a hill$1,000 to $5,000
Patio or deck installation$500 to $1,000
Pool installation$200 to $850
Regrading around a house$1,000 to $3,000
Terraced backyard building$1,000 to $10,000

Driveway Installation

If pooling water is often found on the driveway, it is important to level the area since seeping water can cause cracks. Leveling will ensure that the water drains efficiently and properly. It costs between $2 and $15 per square foot for this type of project, with the average 400-square-foot driveway costing $800 to $6,000 and the average 640-square-foot 2-car driveway totaling $1,500 to $9,500.

Fence Installation

While fences can be installed on a slope, many homeowners prefer to level the yard before putting in the fence. Having a fence sit on top of flat land is more pleasing to the eye and also provides better security. Homeowners can plan to pay $900 to $3,000 in addition to the cost of installing the fence.

Flattening a Hill

Some homeowners may prefer the look of a hilly yard, while others like a more usable flat area. Also, hilly land makes it more challenging to get yard chores done such as mowing and raking. It costs between $1,000 and $5,000 to flatten a hill.

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Patio or Deck Installation

Instead of paying to construct a raised patio or deck, a homeowner may opt for leveling the land first to save on labor and material costs. When installing a deck or patio near a house, the homeowner will want to make sure the land slopes away from the structure to prevent water infiltration. Homeowners can expect to pay $12 to $20 for each full cubic yard when leveling for a patio or deck, which ends up being between $500 to $1,000. Price will vary depending on the area’s size and current slope.

Pool Installation

Before installing an above-ground pool, the homeowner will want to make sure the yard is level. If a pool sits on uneven ground, it will be unstable and the walls and liners can get damaged, eventually causing the pool to break or even collapse. Leveling the ground for a pool costs around $200 to $850, depending on the pool size and yard slope; homeowners who are unsure how to level a ground for a pool will want to hire a professional to make sure the ground is appropriately leveled before installing the above-ground pool.

Regrading Around a House

If the ground around a home is not sloping away adequately, it may be helpful to regrade around the house to manage drainage issues. It is recommended that the land around a house be graded at a slope of at least 6 inches within the first 10 feet from the foundation to drain water away. If this situation is not addressed, it could lead to cracks in the foundation, erosion around the foundation, leaning walls, and a soggy basement. This project costs between $1,000 and $3,000.

Terraced Backyard Building

For a yard with a steep slope, it may be helpful to create a terraced yard. As an excellent alternative to leveling the whole yard, a terraced yard separates the ground into several flat sections of varying heights to look like steps. Terraces help prevent erosion since they catch water runoff and direct excess water to the bottom of the hill. Terraced backyard projects range in price from $1,000 to $10,000, with most people paying under $4,000 for the entire yard.

Do I Need to Level My Yard?

Leveling a yard helps protect a home and landscape from long-term damage and potential costly expenses. Homeowners may want to look at photos of leveling a sloped yard, before and after the project, to get an idea of whether they need to hire someone for this task. There are some signs to keep an eye out for that indicate it may be time to level the yard, such as high erosion levels, gradually exposed tree roots, puddling water, mold or fungus growth, and the yard sloping toward the foundation.

High Erosion Levels

Erosion can cause problems over time and needs to be addressed. The process results in pulling soil, mulch, and nutrients away from the yard, which may end up killing vegetation. Erosion also leads to unusual gradients and slopes in the yard.

Gradually Exposed Tree Roots

Another clue that it is time to level a yard is spotting exposed tree roots that may first look like lumps and bumps on the ground. This is typically the result of topsoil erosion.

Pooling Water

Pooling water on the lawn, pathways, and driveway can indicate a real problem is brewing. Pooling water results in spongy soil and eventually causes cracks and other damage to the driveway, hardscape, and foundation of the house. In addition, it is a breeding ground for pests such as mosquitoes.

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Mold or Fungus Growth

A sloped yard can lead to improper drainage, which can cause mold or fungus growth in and around the property. This is especially a problem if the sloped lawn is pulling water toward a basement, which can result in flooding and mold. If mold or fungus is found, a homeowner will want to consider whether the slope of the lawn could be contributing to the problem.

Yard Sloping Toward Foundation

It is never a good sign if the yard is sloping toward the foundation of the home. This can cause water to run toward the house, accumulate by the foundation, and cause damage. It can even seep through the foundation and flood the basement.

Yard Leveling: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional 

While leveling a yard can be done as a DIY project, it is not recommended for several reasons. First, it is taxing physical work that can put people at risk of getting hurt if they’re unfamiliar with operating the heavy equipment that’s necessary. Next, if a homeowner notices a problem after leveling a sloped yard, such as pooling water, they may inadvertently cause more damage if the project is not done correctly. A homeowner could destroy underground pipes, wires, and the ground around the foundation of the home, which can lead to major issues. Also, certain equipment is required to get the job done, the cost of which can add up. To rent the equipment, a homeowner will want to plan on spending $265 to $500 per day or $795 to $1,515 per week. Necessary equipment includes a bulldozer, an excavator, a backhoe, a skid steer loader, a dump truck, a grader, a shovel, a string level, and stakes. Dirt, sod, a sod cutter, and permits are also required. Overall, DIY leveling will take from 2 days to a week to complete and cost around $1,800, which is not much less than just hiring a pro. Although hiring one of the best landscaping companies may seem like more money up front, overall it will save time and possible headaches—and backaches—when the homeowner works with a professional who knows how to level a yard properly.

How to Save Money on the Cost to Level a Yard

Homeowners have a few ways to save some money on the cost of leveling their yard. However, since this is a complex job that requires certain skills and heavy equipment, much of the process is in the hands of the landscaping professional hired to get the job done. The following are some ways to potentially save money.

  • Handle the prep yourself. Take care of some of the prep work before bringing in a pro to save on additional labor costs.
  • DIY the easier parts of the project. Consider DIY leveling for small areas, such as walkways and patios.
  • Ask around. See if you can borrow equipment from friends or neighbors rather than paying to rent it.
  • Ask about bulk discounts. See if a contractor will offer a discount if your neighbor also hires them to level their yard at the same time.
  • Shop around. It’s recommended to get at least three bids to compare estimates and find the best price.
Cost to Level a Yard
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Questions to Ask About Leveling a Yard

Having all the information about the project up front will help homeowners avoid any miscommunication and misdirection once the leveling project begins. They can refer to the following sample questions when they speak with local landscapers and contractors who offer lawn-leveling services about everything that is involved with leveling their yard.

  • What experience do you have with residential yard leveling?
  • Can you provide testimonials or reviews from past customers?
  • Are you licensed, bonded, and insured?
  • Are you certified in erosion and sediment control?
  • Can you come out and provide a written estimate?
  • Will you provide a comprehensive grading plan detailing the landscaping, elevation, and drainage before you start the project?
  • Do you own or rent your excavation equipment, and does the estimate include all equipment and delivery fees?
  • Does the estimate include cleanup and debris removal?
  • Will this project require a permit, and if so, will you help obtain one?
  • How long will the project take?

FAQs

When homeowners are deciding whether to level their yard, it’s important for them to ask the right questions and understand what they will pay for the project. The cost will depend on many factors, such as yard size, labor rates, permits, and project type. Knowing how much it will cost on average and what is involved will reduce the risk of homeowners getting a surprise bill. For those just beginning to think about lawn leveling, the following are a few questions that may come up.

Q. Does yard leveling increase a home’s value?

Yes, yard leveling can potentially increase home value by somewhere between 5 percent and 12 percent. Buyers with children, in particular, prefer properties with a level backyard so the children can play safely.

Q. How long does yard leveling take?

It typically takes about 5 or 6 days to level a yard, but can take as little as 1 day or as long as a week, depending on the size and complexity of the project.

Q. Do I need to get a permit for my yard leveling?

Depending on local and state requirements, it may be necessary to get a permit to level a yard. A contractor will likely know whether a permit is required, but homeowners can also check with their local municipality to make sure their project is above board.

Q. When should I level my yard?

The best time of year for this type of project is either in the spring or fall during dry-weather conditions.

Q. Is there a difference between grading and leveling a yard?

Grading is the process of sloping a yard away from the home’s foundation to ensure proper water drainage. The surface of the lawn is physically altered, often involving moving dirt from the highest areas of the yard to the lowest points to contour the land and remove the slope. Land leveling is a form of grading that results in a smooth, even surface of the lawn. This is done for both aesthetics and to make the lawn easier to mow.

Q. Whom should I contact about yard leveling?

When looking for a lawn leveler, homeowners will want to choose a local landscaping-grading company or excavation contractor to handle the project. Some local landscapers will also take on small leveling jobs.

Sources: Angi, HomeAdvisor, Fixr, HomeGuide, LawnLove, Forbes