Land grading costs generally $5-$10 per square foot. How much homeowners pay for grading varies based on the size and complexity of the site.
Land grading cost:
|National average cost||$500|
|Average cost range||$350-$700|
|Low-end cost range||$100-$200|
|High-end cost range||$1,000-$3,424|
Land grading, also known as yard grading or yard leveling, reshapes the ground's surface. Your land might need grading for:
- Preparation for landscaping
- A home addition
- To build a new home
- To build a driveway
- Adding a concrete patio
- Correcting a drainage problem
- To stop soil erosion or erosion control
You can also re-grade an existing lawn that's not draining properly, which involves scraping off the existing topsoil, leveling the site and spreading new topsoil. This prevents drainage issues and keeps water from pooling near the foundation of your home.
A land grading job can include digging and removing dirt, leveling slopes, filling low spots, compacting the soil, and leveling the building site. It may involve hauling dirt in to fill a hole or hauling out dirt to level a slope. Land grading experts use heavy equipment like an excavator, skid steer loader, or a backhoe to grade a lot, all of which impacts the price.
But remember: the exact cost of grading your land depends on a combination of factors. This guide will help you estimate how much you might pay a contractor for this project.
What's in this cost guide?
Land grading contractors charge anywhere from $40 to $180 an hour for labor. In addition to the hourly rates for labor, contractors charge by the cubic yard of dirt they'll need to level a yard, which ranges between $50 and $200 per cubic yard. For example, a Thumbtack pro experienced in land grading in Olympia, Washington, charges $1,750 to regrade and sod a 1,000-square-foot yard, including soil.
The exact price you pay for grading is impacted by number of factors, including the type of project, size and topography of your land, permits, and dirt removal.
Below are the average national costs of several common land grading projects:
Type of grading
Leveling for concrete patios and driveways
$1,000 to $2,500
$1,000 to $6,000 per acre
Leveling for foundation for new construction or home addition
$1,500 to $6,000
Basic lawn re-leveling
The bigger your property, the more expensive it will be to level your yard. You'll pay for bigger equipment and more labor to level an acre lot than you will for a quarter acre lot.
If there's a fence that must be moved so heavy equipment can access the site, or existing landscaping or other buildings to work around, the cost will increase because the job will more complex and require more labor.
If the site is rocky, expect to pay $200 to $1,200 more for the project, or about $40 to $100 per cubic yard. If trees must be removed, expect to pay between $1,00 and $6,000 more per acre, depending on the number and maturity of trees.
If you're leveling land that's full of rocks and trees, labor costs go up since your contractor has to remove full grown trees and dig out boulders stuck in the soil. They'll need to bring in more equipment, like bulldozers, and work longer.
The average cost for dirt removal, on top of the grading costs, is $8 to $25 per cubic yard of dirt. Usually, contractors must haul away dirt if they level a steep slope or remove dirt for a home addition foundation. Costs increase because you'll have to pay for use of a dump truck and a backhoe as well as the extra labor needed to dig and haul away the dirt.
If the contractor needs to haul in dirt to raise your yard, you'll pay $8 to $15 per cubic yard just for the dirt. That does not include the cost of spreading it.
Depending on where you live and what you're doing to your land, you'll need a grading permit for the project. This can cost $100 to $1,000, depending on where you live and the scope of the project.
Leveling a slope costs between $1 and $15 per cubic yard of dirt. Basic lawn re-sloping to prevent erosion and fix drainage averages at $1,900 for most homeowners.
Leveling a slope, a process called cut and fill, adds to the price because the job will require more labor. The pro will have to move dirt from the hill (cut it) and move it to another location (fill) to level a yard.
If you're grading your land for a landscaping project, you might also encounter one of these additional costs:
Landscaping grading means you'll to need to put a layer of topsoil that contains nutrients needed to grow plants on the site. Topsoil costs $12 to $55 per cubic foot on average, not counting the labor costs for spread it.
Once your land is graded, you're going to have bare dirt. Putting a sod lawn on that dirt will cost $0.30 to $0.80 per square foot. The national average cost for 1,000 square feet of sod is $500 to $800, installed.
If you're patient and can wait on grass to grow, you can start your lawn from seed for $0.05 per square foot, a savings of as much as 90 percent over a pre-fab sod lawn.
If you're going for a full-on yard makeover, you'll pay extra for trees, shrubs, sprinkler system, retaining walls and pathways to complete your landscape design.
While some companies specialize specifically in land grading, companies that install septic systems and landscaping companies also do land grading. Whoever you hire, be sure to find a licensed, qualified contractor with experience in land grading. To check their past projects, read reviews from previous clients on Thumbtack.
You should also get a detailed estimate before beginning the project. Ask the contractor if their quote includes the cost of hauling in fill dirt, land clearing, and pulling permits.
For many homeowners, land grading is the first step to making the yard or house addition their dreams. If you're ready for a better yard, look for a grading contractor in your zip code on Thumbtack.