What is the cost to level a yard?

If you need to know the true cost to level a yard, we've got a guide that'll help you identify the reasons why you should regrade your yard and how much you'll need to spend.

Green lush lawn in newly landscaped garden
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Wondering what the cost to level a yard might be? We've got the lowdown.

If you seem to have more mosquitoes because of water pools in low areas of your lawn, or you have water getting into your basement with heavy rainfall, it sounds like your yard needs a bit of leveling. 

So, let’s look at how much it could cost to regrade a yard, the reasons for leveling a yard and how to level a yard right.

How much does it cost to level a yard or regrade a yard?

The cost to regrade or level a yard depends on a few factors.

According to the home services website Fixr, most homeowners pay between $1,500 and $2,600 to level a 1,000 square foot area. And to re-grade the same size yard with a 2-foot slope, the average cost is $1,800. 

However, the costs range from $550 for a small, 250 square-foot yard with minimal slope to $8,200 for a large, 2,500 square-foot yard with a 5-foot slope. If you're looking to do a larger project and more extensive leveling, garden landscaping costs will depend on the entire design.

A contemporary backyard with a low retaining wall in Melbourne, Australia

(Image credit: Michael Holloway / Alamy Stock Photo)

Top reasons to level or regrade your yard

There are several reasons to regrade or level your yard or sloping garden. And no matter what your reason is, the results will improve how the soil manages water and provide the perfect surface for your outdoor living enjoyment.

Installing a pool – If you’re installing a pool in your backyard, it must rest on a level surface. The difference of just a couple of inches can cause the weight of the water to damage the walls and liner and possibly even collapse. 

Installing other recreation areas – Volleyball, basketball, and croquet all need a level playing field, literally. And the last thing you want is to twist an ankle coming down in a hole while playing. 

Correct poor drainage – Poor drainage causes low spots in the yard where water pools. Those pools attract mosquitoes and kill grass and other plants. Leveling out those areas corrects the problem. Sometimes the slope of the lawn needs correcting because it drains toward the house's foundation. When that happens, water enters the basement and compromises the structure. Re-grading the slope diverts the water elsewhere.

Repair damage from insects or disease – Some creepy-crawly lawn enemies live in the grass layer of your yard. When you re-grade the area, fresh topsoil replaces those unwanted pests and the dirt they live in. And by leveling out low spots, you remove the chance of excessive moisture causing mold, fungus, and disease growth.

Want a larger yard – If your yard has a steep slope, re-grading levels it out and gives you more usable area. 'It’s not just about usable space,' says Blythe Yost, landscape architect and CEO of Tilly, an online landscape design company, 'a level area looks bigger.'

Is it worth leveling a yard yourself?

Unless you have significant problems that require heavy equipment, you can re-grade your own yard. 'I would say almost anything can be DIYed, and yard re-grading is not an exclusion,' says Sean Chapman, home improvement carpenter and founder of the tool and machinery review blog Tool’n’Goods. However, according to Chapman, the job is not for the faint of heart. 

'This project isn’t technically complicated but requires a lot of heavy manual labor,' he says, 'so you should be 100 percent sure you have the time and rough muscle power to accomplish it without overstraining yourself.'

It’s important to know when to call a professional. 'Always bring in the experts for water in the basement,' says Yost. 

'This is not an area you want to mess around with.' This type of work often includes laying drainage pipe to channel the water toward the edge of the property, where it will continue on its way to a storm drain. 'Moving a yard or two of soil is within the DIY scope,' she says.

'But for more than that, it’s best to hire a professional,' as they’ll have the equipment to do the heavy work. (A yard of soil is 27 cubic feet.)

Applying lawn leveling mix with a shovel

(Image credit: Kate Sandhu)

Other things to consider

Depending on your location and the type of professional you hire, how they charge will be different. Yost recommends getting a project cost based on the desired outcome to avoid incurring extra expenses you didn’t see coming.

She also recommends getting a topographical survey to create a drainage plan if you're doing a large project.

According to the National Association of REALTORS® Remodeling Impact Survey of Outdoor Features, most landscape upgrades result in a homeowner Joy Score above 9. So don’t hesitate to do the work to level your yard and enjoy your outdoor living area to its fullest.

What's the difference between leveling and grading?

Though you see the terms leveling and grading used interchangeably, there is a difference between the two. Leveling is creating a flat surface to your lawn or yard. You level the yard when you want to fill in low spots or make recreation areas, like for a swimming pool.

Grading is a garden landscaping term that refers to the slope of a yard away from the home’s foundation. Even homes that appear to be level have a gradual slope away from the house for drainage purposes. For example, you regrade your yard when you have problems with moisture in the basement or crawl space under your home.

Carol J. Alexander

Carol J. Alexander writes website copy, blog posts, and feature articles on home remodeling and construction topics from her home in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. In addition to Real Homes, notable clients include, This Old House, Family Handyman, and Florida Roofing magazine.