Some outdoor improvement projects are strictly for curb appeal. Then there are those that must be done for your property's maintenance and security. Land grading falls into the latter category.
Depending on the slope of your lot, land grading might not only be a worthy investment but a necessary one, too.
What is the purpose of land grading?
Land grading, or land leveling, essentially reshapes or reforms the surface of the land. There are various reasons homeowners would seek to have their land leveled, including:
Leveling land doesn't just make for a pleasing aesthetic. If a yard doesn't drain properly after a rainstorm, water could seep into the foundation of the home. This could cause major problems, such as mold, particularly if a home is located in a flood zone.
How much does land grading cost?
Land grading is not usually recommended as a DIY project. For extensive land grading, professionals with heavy equipment must excavate the land. For residential lots, Thumbtack.com quotes the national average at $3,100, or between $5 and $10 per square foot of land. According to HomeAdvisor (NASDAQ: ANGI), the average cost to reslope a lawn is $1,925, though the cost can range from $973 to $2,955.
But don't be in a rush to price your own project based on these ranges. The cost of your project will be determined in large part by the slope of the current lawn or land and how much it needs to be changed.
As with all projects, size also matters. If a small, relatively flat plot of land needs only to be flattened a bit further, the project quote likely will be at the lower end of the price range. However, to flatten a steep lot or even reverse the slope of the land will undoubtedly push the price higher. And if a sloped yard needs to be filled in, the dirt usually costs around $15 per cubic yard.
Does land grading increase a property's value?
Landscaping design is an important part of curb appeal for potential homebuyers. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports 99% of agents believe curb appeal is necessary to attract homebuyers while 94% recommend clients upgrade their landscaping before listing. It's an upgrade that will pay off: BobVila.com reports proper landscape design for your property can increase your home's value up to 20%.
However, for properties in flood zones, land grading is more than just curb appeal. It's about peace of mind for homebuyers. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reports just one inch of water can cause $25,000 of damage.
Flood insurance might cover the costs to recover, but the emotional costs for homeowners can be far greater. In fact, a University of York study discovered flood victims are 50% more likely to have their mental health impacted in a negative way. A property with land that has been graded and optimized for water drainage could be key to selling property in a high-risk area.
The bottom line
Land grading or leveling goes far beyond simple curb appeal. For property owners in wetter climates, land grading is necessary protection against water damage and erosion. While you might not be able to redraw the flood zone map in your area, you can help minimize the impact of natural disasters with land grading.