Not all houses have perfect surroundings that will be easy to transform into outdoor recreation and entertainment areas with good lawns and gardens. It is frequently necessary to undertake some construction projects to obtain the quality and type of outdoor area you want. One of the basic construction problems for any landscaping task is grading the soil. Generally, grading means building a slope into the garden area. Sloping ensures that there is proper drainage, and it can make the house look better while allowing for easier maintenance. Whether you want to have a garden, a lawn, or a terrace, you must do your grading first.
The best time to grade is when a home is being constructed, since it is relatively simple to add a few inches between the entrance level and the ground level at this point. Just a few inches can ease the creation of a grade away from the house to improve its appearance and make for a drier basement, if you have one. It is difficult to measure a grade by eye. Even professionals cannot do this. You should use a piece of twine as a guide. Pull the twine tight between two sticks imbedded in the ground.
Once you've completed the rough work for leveling, use a long board as a straight edge on the ground to make sure you've been accurate. Rough grading is the first step in landscape construction. The extent of the grading depends on the condition of the ground and ground levels desired. You must also pay attention if there are extreme slopes and try to keep as closely as possible to natural contours. This reduces the expense of grading in a big way.
Begin grading by stripping and separating topsoil from the areas where the level is to be altered. Even if you are grading for a stone or concrete terrace, you should save the topsoil. You can spread the topsoil in areas where it is thin, or you can use it a flower garden and save yourself some money. Once you have stripped the topsoil, subsoil can be graded to the desired contours, leaving space for adding the topsoil that has been removed.
You should also plan to have a slope for every one-hundred feet of lawn. The same measurement can be applied to a stone terrace to prevent pools of water to develop during periods of rain. When you level an area for a terrace, you don't need to insert subsoil drainage. Just save the topsoil.
For nearly all terraces, it is good practice to tamp the soil down and even to put a layer of gravel cinder or crushed rock as a base for the terrace. Terraces typically require a level area, but the grade that slopes away from the house should be maintained.
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