Re-grading around patio

mjl5007April 19, 2014

I need to do some re-grading of my lawn in the backyard around the concrete patio under my deck. The lawn is low on all three sides, and is bad enough on one of the sides that the gravel underneath the concrete slab is coming out and you can see the underside of the slab.

On the two sides seen in the photo the lawn slopes down and away towards my neighbors backyard (which is lower than mine) so I presume I can just add topsoil to bring the grade up to the top of the slab and feather it out over 6-8 feet or so to blend it into the grade of the rest of the lawn? I'm planning to do away with the planting area along the one edge and just plant grass right up to the slab.

You can sort-of see in the photo that on the opposite side the lawn slopes down towards the slab; I'll post a picture from a different angle in a follow-up.


1. How's my timing? The weather is just starting to be consistently in the upper 50s/lower 60s after this awful winter. How much time do I have to get the grading done and be able to seed before the weather gets too warm?

2. As you can see, the remainder of the lawn isn't in super-great shape, and I'm planning to put down some crabgrass preventer (Barricade most likely, without fertilizer) soon. I presume I should stay away from the area where I'll be re-grading, lest the crabgrass preventer also prevent the new grass seed from germinating?

3. How do I go about determining how much topsoil I need? Since the area being regraded will wrap around one corner and I need to blend it into the existing lawn, I can't just do the math for a rectangular area of uniform thickness. Also, do I need to account for settling/compaction of the topsoil once it is put down?

4. Do I need to remove the existing grass in the area where I'll be re-grading, or can I just put topsoil right overtop and feather it away from the slab to blend it into the existing lawn? One website suggested that existing grass will grow up through an inch or two of topsoil.

5. I'll be bringing in topsoil to do this -- I presume screened topsoil is my best bet?

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My design

    Bookmark   April 19, 2014 at 12:20PM
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Here's the other side of the deck/slab. As you can see, the grade is below the slab here as well, although only about 2-3 inches. The slope of the lawn as it comes down towards the slab is fairly steep, more than it looks in this photo. I could of course just add topsoil to raise the grade along the slab here as well, but my concern is that water running off that slope is going to wash over (or under) the slab, or just slowly erode the soil and put me back where I started.

Instead, I was thinking about putting in a low retaining wall along that edge, only one or two courses high plus a capstone. Then I can backfill with some gravel and put in a perforate drainage pipe sloped away from the house that exits into the lawn just past the landing at the bottom of the deck stairs, to get the water running off that slope out around the slab so it can run off with the rest of the lawn.

Or maybe I don't even need the drainage pipe, as long as I grade the lawn behind the retaining wall to slope very slightly away from the foundation?

    Bookmark   April 19, 2014 at 12:49PM
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saypoint(6b CT)

Raising the soil level at the bottom of the slope may cause runoff to go over your patio instead of around it, creating more of a problem.
This might be a job for a professional, or at least get some opinions from someone who can visit the site and see what's going on.
I don't know what the rest of your house looks like, but your plan is very Victorian in style. If your house is more modern, a more simple look might blend in better.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 7:09PM
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