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Cost of regrading backyard

Posted by shawnseth71 NJ (My Page) on
Fri, Apr 23, 10 at 8:52

Hi All

I have been an avid fan of this forum for the past year since I bought my new 'old' house. I have been renovating it in bits and pieces saving the outside for last. But Mother Nature had other plans and threw me a curveball in the form of a deluge last month. My house is on a flat 1 acre lot dipping towards my foundation and the neighbors' properties drain into mine. My lawn is perpetually soggy. My french drain turns on at least 4-5 times a day regularly and once every minute on a heavy downpour. Last month, my basement windows had water pouring down them. So, I have approached landscapers to regrade my property near my foundation. I am getting a quote for $ 3000 to regrade just my backyard and one side - maybe a 70 linear feet, 5 ft wide. As I am new to all this, I want to know if it is reasonable. The landscaper mentioned that it was an easy job as my soil was already very compacted, he just needed to add dirt. What do you think?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Cost of regrading backyard

You have done well to research before laying out your hard earned cash. Do you know how the previous owners dealt with this problem? Is the neighbours house new? When you say "My french drain turns on at least 4-5 times a day" do you mean a sump pump inside a basement? How is regrading going to solve the problem?


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RE: Cost of regrading backyard

Hi shawn or seth,

Is your neighbor's land higher than yours? Are you the lowest point of all the surrounding yards. Are you meaning that your yard french drains are flowing 4-5 time per day? and where do they flow to? Does your yard slope away from your house all around? If you are being affected by a neighbors yard runoff a perimeter concrete lined ditch may solve your soggy yard problem. Probably something your neighbors should have done. Additional un-compacted soil placed on compacted soil will not help the problem except increase the amount of soggy soil. Good luck with getting him to share the cost of the concrete/gunite ditch. Make sure to use wire-mesh reinforcing is used in the gunite JMHO Aloha


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RE: Cost of regrading backyard

Hi inkognito

Thanks for the response.

"Do you know how the previous owners dealt with this problem?"
I believe they created a swale to channel the water to the street on one side and laid dry creek (ditches lines with gravel) on the other side to direct water to a storm drain.
"Is the neighbours house new? "
None of my neighbors are new - our development is 40 yrs old.

"When you say "My french drain turns on at least 4-5 times a day" do you mean a sump pump inside a basement?"
Yes, I ripped out the existing french drain in my basement and installed a new one with deeper sump pits. I also put one in each of my crawlspaces.

"How is regrading going to solve the problem?"
My plot slopes towards my house and in a heavy rainfall, all the water pools near my foundation. I was hoping regrading of the soil will help deflect that water from my foundation.


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RE: Cost of regrading backyard

All the reference material I have access to says that the closest six feet to the house should fall away from the house to encourage surface water to drain away from the foundations. I note that you only have five feet to deal with so unless the grade continues beyond that the suggested regrading may not work and if it slopes up the other way from the point your new soil may be washed away especially as you say that the soil is "very compacted" and this will obviously have an effect on the permeability.

Why is the old system not working now?


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Reply to inkognito

inkognito -

I am guessing the water pooling near my foundation is due to soil compaction over the years. Water does drain away to the afore mentioned storm sewer in a couple of days after a huge downpour but not before it takes a crack at my basement sump pumps. As I mentioned earlier, the huge downpour of March had water pouring into my basement windows to my french drain. (Thank god we did not lose power). Minor rains like the ones we had yesterday and today do not create any problems.


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Reply to lehua13

Hi lehua13

Thank you for your response.

I am sorry but I had replied to this in detail and did not realize that it never got posted. So here goes..

"Is your neighbor's land higher than yours? Are you the lowest point of all the surrounding yards."

The neighbors at the back of my plot are all on a hill and their runoff comes to my land first. I have a wooded area on my left which is higher too. My neighbor on the right is slightly lower than me.

"Are you meaning that your yard french drains are flowing 4-5 time per day? and where do they flow to? "
No, I have none on my yard. I have 3 sumppumps - 1 in my basement an 2 in my crawlspaces. they all flow to a drywell about 100ft from my building at the back. This used to be drained out to the street on my right side but due to some legal issues with my neighbor on that side, the previous owner decided to let it pool and evaporate eventually.

"Does your yard slope away from your house all around? "
Not in my backyard, hence I am looking to regrade that part.

"If you are being affected by a neighbors yard runoff a perimeter concrete lined ditch may solve your soggy yard problem. Make sure to use wire-mesh reinforcing is used in the gunite "
Do you mean dig a deep ditch and line it with concrete? Can you please explain this a bit more?

"Additional un-compacted soil placed on compacted soil will not help the problem except increase the amount of soggy soil. "
Good point. Thanks

"Good luck with getting him to share the cost of the concrete/gunite ditch. "
Can I do that? What does he care where his run-off goes to?


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RE: Cost of regrading backyard

  • Posted by metaxa 7/8 BC, Can. (My Page) on
    Mon, Apr 26, 10 at 20:16

You need to figure out the Riparian Rights in your area. Google that term and your county, state, whatever.

For instance, here, where I live I can divert water around a building and on its way but I can not hasten or encourage it to flow other than naturally.

figure that out w/o a lawyer!

So, here a ditch hastens or encourages it but a curtain drain flowing into a dry well is OK. Never mind the dry well fills up and overflows into the adjacent property anyway. One is allowed, the other is not.

That type of thing is what you need to know, before starting anything.


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RE: Cost of regrading backyard

Hi SS,

Metaxa has a very good point. Some communities allow concentrated flow if it goes into a storm drain directly or a street but there are different rules for water flowing across land. Any grass ditch or concrete lined ditch concentrates the flow and usually empties into a catch basin drain system to the City/County drain system. The City/County grading ordinances at the permit dept. should spell this out.

Does the neighbor on the right who is lower get everyone's flow in a big rain that fills your dry well? It sounds like he objected to every ones nuisance drainage water coming into his yard and got results from low-flow water by having your previous owner do what he did.

You can't force him to help pay for the ditch unless he has changed his grading without a permit and you could get him into trouble.

Take a drainage plan to the permit office describing what you want to do and they will tell you what you can and can not do. They may even help you with the design itself. Homeowner tend to get good help at these govt agencies. Businesses are another story.

The gunite or concrete is just a wearing surface treatment for a permanent ditch. It lasts longer and stands up better to erosion(low maintenance) than grass or stones. It usually is semi-circular or vee-shaped. You would have it circle your house and end up in a box drain with large pipe to take it to the street or piped into the municipal storm drain catch basin at the curb side of your street. JMHO Aloha


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RE: Cost of regrading backyard

Greetings metaxa, long time no see.


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Thank you

Thanks to all of you for guiding me. I had no idea there were permits involved. Thanks for the gunite info Lehua13. I had not heard of it before.


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