How to Correct a Negative Slope Towards Your House

Negative slope towards your house can be a real headache, potentially causing long-term water damage to your home’s foundation. If you’ve noticed that your back, front, or side yard slopes towards your house, it’s high time to address this issue. But don’t worry, I’m here to guide you through the process of fixing this problem with confidence and ease.

Regrading your lawn is the most effective way to tackle a negative slope. This involves removing topsoil from the highest point of your yard, and moving it to the lowest point. By doing so, you can significantly reduce the slope towards your house, ensuring that water drains away from your property rather than towards it.

Fixing a negative slope isn’t just about moving soil around, it’s also about improving the overall quality of your yard. Whether you prefer a gravel substrate or a lush landscape of plants and shrubs, the right approach can help water to drain effectively, and allow your greenery to thrive. So, let’s delve into the nitty-gritty of regrading your yard, and turn that negative slope into a positive one.

How to Fix Negative Slope Towards House

Dealing with a slope in your yard that’s sloping towards your house can be a daunting task. But don’t fret, it’s not as complex as it might seem. The most efficient solution is regrading your yard, which simply means reshaping the land to achieve the desired slope.

The process starts by removing the topsoil from the highest point of your yard and relocating it to the lowest point. This technique helps reduce the slope, directing the water runoff away from your house. Regrading can be accomplished manually using a shovel or with the aid of heavy machinery for larger yards.

Additionally, building soil around your house foundation also helps in correcting a negative slope. By adding fill dirt and topsoil along the foundation perimeter, you create a positive grade that facilitates water drainage away from your home.

Soil quality is another critical factor to consider. A good quality soil not only supports plant growth but also aids in effective water drainage. Landscaping options vary depending on personal preferences. While some might opt for a gravel substrate like river stones, others might prefer a lush landscape with plants and shrubs.

Finally, remember that regrading your yard is a preventative measure to safeguard your house from potential water damage due to negative slopes. It’s an investment in your home’s longevity and your peace of mind.

Assessing the Problem

Before diving headfirst into regrading your lawn or installing a French drain, it’s crucial to understand the problem at hand. Here, we’ll discuss the impact of a negative slope and how to identify its signs.

Understanding the Impact of Negative Slope

A negative slope, wherein the ground surface slopes towards your building, can cause significant problems. Water puddling against or soaking into the foundation walls could lead to excessive moisture damage. It’s more than an annoyance; it can, in fact, be destructive, especially during heavy rainfall.

In severe cases, you might notice water seeping through your basement’s concrete walls, or your foundations submerged in an inch of surface water. But it’s not just the overt water damage that’s concerning. This negative grading can also contribute heavily to foundation deterioration and settlement issues.

Identifying Signs of Negative Slope

So how do you know if your yard has a negative slope? It’s not always glaringly obvious. When my home was inspected, there were concerns about the slope of the yard slanting towards the house. While I hadn’t noticed any water or flooding issues at that point, it was definitely something I wanted to fix ASAP.

To identify a negative slope, look out for signs of water accumulation or flooding near your home’s foundation. This might be more apparent after a rainstorm or snowmelt, where water might pool up in the grass near your house. Additionally, if you observe that your yard’s highest point is closer to your home than the lowest point, it’s likely that you have a negative slope issue.

But remember, it’s always better to rectify this problem before it turns into a bigger issue. A 6-inch yard slope every 6 feet away from your house is generally considered adequate for proper drainage. Anything less than this could cause potential damage to your home’s foundation.

If you’re unsure about the slope of your yard or just can’t seem to figure it out, don’t hesitate to get a home inspection. It can shed light on any foundation and negative grading issues before they escalate.

Tools and Equipment Needed to fix negative slope

Tools and Equipment Needed

To successfully regrade your yard and address the issue of a negative slope, you’ll need some specific tools and equipment. Here, I’ll detail some of the essential items you’ll need, broken down into two categories: measuring equipment and excavation tools.

Measuring Equipment

To assess the current state of your yard and plan your regrading, you’ll require some measuring equipment. A Magnetic Leveler is a great tool to test the slope of your yard. I’d also recommend a Laser Distance Meter; it’s a handy gadget that measures distance and can provide you with data such as length, volume, and area.

You’ll also need two stakes, about 10 feet of string, and a hanging string level. These tools will help you measure the existing slope and calculate the horizontal distance between the highest and lowest points in your yard.

Excavation Tools

Once you’ve planned your regrading, you’ll need some tools to move the soil around. A Flat Square Garden Spade is perfect for digging up and shifting the topsoil in your yard. If you’re dealing with a larger project, you may need to rent heavier machinery like a Bobcat or a Mini-excavator.

For smaller changes, a power tiller, a landscaping rake, a wheelbarrow, and a sheet of plywood may suffice. The power tiller breaks up the soil, making it easier to move around with the landscaping rake.

Remember, you’ll need enough additional soil to build up the grade. You can estimate the amount needed with a soil calculator. For smaller projects, buying soil by the bag might be feasible, but for larger undertakings, it’s more cost-effective to buy in bulk, by the truckload.

So, grab your tools and get ready to transform your yard. With the right equipment and a bit of elbow grease, you can correct a negative slope and prevent potential water damage to your home.

Preparing for the Fix

Before we delve into the practical aspects of fixing a negative slope, it’s crucial to prepare thoroughly. This involves obtaining the necessary permits and gathering the right materials. Let’s explore each of these steps in detail.

Obtaining Permits

Even before I start my yard grading project, it’s essential that I first check with my local zoning commission and state homeowner permits. There’s a chance that I might be okay to proceed without a permit, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Especially when dealing with projects that involve extensive earthmoving, it’s wise to ensure all the necessary permissions are in place.

There are also other legal considerations to bear in mind. For instance, in some areas, it’s illegal to allow your property to drain onto your neighbours’. If this is the case for you, then it’s time to consult with your neighbour and perhaps devise a plan to help divert water away from both your properties.

Gathering the Necessary Materials

Armed with permits and the legal knowledge, the next step is to gather the materials required for the project.

For a start, it’s important to have enough additional soil to build up the grade. Measuring equipment, such as a Magnetic Leveler and a Laser Distance Meter, will come in handy to ensure the ground is levelled correctly. Excavation tools, like a Flat Square Garden Spade, are a must-have, and for larger projects, you might need heavier machinery like a Bobcat or Mini-excavator.

Aside from soil and tools, there are a few other items to consider. FastPlug is a product that can help plug holes and tackle water issues temporarily. It’s like a bandaid for water drainage problems, and I always recommend having some on hand as a precaution.

If you plan to surround the foundation with gravel or stone, regular fill dirt is acceptable as this can help drain water away from the house. Furthermore, you need to consider the possibility of needing to extend low-lying pipes or vents, so they do not get blocked or damaged during the project.

It’s also worth noting that if you have wooden siding, you need to be cautious about potential rot or termite issues if the soil touches your walls.

As I prepare to correct the negative slope in my yard, being well-equipped and informed about legal requirements is key. This way, I can avoid potential pitfalls and ensure the process runs smoothly. As they say, failing to prepare is preparing to fail. I can’t stress enough the importance of these preparatory steps. They are not just about ticking boxes, but about setting the stage for a successful project.

Fixing the Negative Slope

Before taking any steps to fix a negative slope, it’s crucial to have a well thought out plan. This involves creating a drainage plan, excavating the area, and installing drainage solutions.

Creating a Drainage Plan

First of all, you’ve got to work with your perimeter elevations. It’s not about sloping the entire backyard away from the house, but about managing water flow within the parameters of your yard. Six inches of slope for every 6 feet is ideal. This should allow the land to be graded so that water flows away from the home.

Consider hiring a professional landscape designer who knows about grading and drainage. They can help you draft a comprehensive plan that meets your needs.

Excavating the Area

Once you’ve got your plan, it’s time to get your hands dirty. Start by removing about four inches of topsoil. You’ll need to work on the harder subsoil. A power tiller can break up the soil, making it easier to move around with a landscaping rake.

Next, identify the high points of your yard. These spots will require the most digging. Remove about 10 inches of topsoil from these points. The goal is to level out your yard.

Remember, before you start digging, check for any water, gas, or electric lines that might lie underneath your lawn. Mark these with flags or anything bright to ensure you don’t disturb these lines while digging.

Installing Drainage Solutions

If regrading doesn’t solve your problem, or if it’s not feasible, consider installing a French drain. This is an effective way to divert water away from your house.

If your yard has a serious negative grade, adding at least 8 inches of new soil might be the solution. Use a lawn roller to pack it down. This should give the soil about 6 inches of lift.

Besides regrading, simply stabilising the soil with native plants and trees can be a low-maintenance solution. The roots of the plants prevent erosion and water run-off when it rains.

Alternatively, installing a deck can be a practical and enjoyable way to address the issue.

Remember to leave 4 to 8 inches of your foundation uncovered above the new grade after installing any drainage solutions. It’s all about making sure your house stays dry, and your yard looks great.

Re-grading the Landscape

Re-grading the Landscape

When it comes to fixing a negative slope, the solution often lies in re-grading your landscape. It’s a procedure that involves changing the slope percentage of your yard. This could mean adding or removing soil to create a proper gradient away from your house. The process may involve some elbow grease, or the use of machinery for larger projects.

Adding Topsoil and Gravel

The first step after identifying the high and low points of your yard is to work on your topsoil. If you’re looking to raise the level of your foundation, adding fill dirt or topsoil is the way to go. I’d recommend using fill dirt if you plan to cover the area with gravel afterwards. However, if you’re keen on improving your planting soil, topsoil would be a better choice.

It’s important to create a positive grade, which means the soil should slope away from your foundation towards your lawn. To achieve this, you can add more soil and rake the slope to have a 6 to 8-inch drop for every 10 feet. A handy tip I’d like to share is to use a straight 10 ft 2×4 as your guide.

Once satisfied with your grade, you can replace the grass or plant new plants on the topsoil. Adding river stones or gravel around the perimeter can add a nice touch while also helping with water drainage.

Compacting the Soil

After adjusting the landscape with topsoil or fill dirt, the next step is to compact the soil. This is a crucial part of the process, as it ensures the newly added soil is firm and less likely to shift over time. You can achieve this using a tamper or a lawn roller. Compacting the Soil not only helps to secure the new gradient but also encourages water to flow away from the house.

Once compacted, you can add about 4 inches of topsoil to replace what you initially removed and till it into the surface of the subsoil. This doesn’t need to be tamped down, but do water it well to compact it slightly. At the same time, consider planting grass seed or laying down sod to provide new ground cover. The roots will help bind the new topsoil together and act as erosion control.

Remember, the process of re-grading your landscape is not about creating a steep slope away from your house, but rather a gentle grade that effectively channels water away from your foundation. A successfully re-graded yard not only protects your house but can also add to the aesthetic appeal of your landscape. From here, you can explore various landscaping options to further enhance your yard.

Maintaining the Drainage System

After addressing the initial issues of a negative slope, it’s crucial to maintain a proper drainage system to minimise future water pooling and soil erosion. Here, I’ll delve into two crucial aspects of maintaining a healthy drainage system: regular inspection and cleaning, and repairing any damages.

Regular Inspection and Cleaning

It’s a good idea to regularly inspect the ground around the home to ensure that negative grading is not occurring and puddles are not forming. If it is, you’ll need to determine what’s causing it or enlist the help of a professional. Regular checks in basements and around the foundation for anything that looks like cracks, leaks, or mould should also be part of your routine. This immediate action can prevent potential issues from escalating.

It’s equally important to keep gutters clean, especially after storms, to prevent water from backing up into the home. Backed up water can overflow and contribute to negative grading. A routine check of the downspouts to ensure there are no clogs and the backsplash stays in place should be part of your maintenance schedule. Likewise, regularly inspecting flowerbeds and shrubs to ensure negative grading is not starting to occur can save you a lot of trouble. Keeping the mulch at the correct levels can prevent washouts, which often lead to negative grading.

Repairing any Damages

If during your regular inspections you stumble upon any damages, it’s best to address them promptly. In my case, I discovered a tiny pinhole in my foundation in the basement, through which water was pouring out. I managed to stop the flow temporarily with a stretchy eraser and some flex seal, but it was a temporary fix. I needed something more permanent, like FastPlug, to address the situation.

If you notice any water leaking into the home, it’s advisable to seek professional help. A professional can assist with any leaks or mould that may develop. Similarly, if you need to add downspouts or eaves to your home, a professional can be of great help.

Remember, it’s best to correct these problems before they become significant issues. While maintaining an appropriate home slope may not be as appealing as other home improvements, it can prevent major and costly problems. Thorough home inspections can pinpoint many house grading issues and underlying causes. However, slope-related issues don’t go away and should be addressed before things go south. Don’t wait until you have a big issue on your hands.


Fixing a negative slope towards your house isn’t as daunting as it may seem. It’s all about re-grading your landscape, changing the slope percentage to ensure water flows away from your home. This can be achieved by adding or removing soil, using a 10 ft 2×4 to guide you. It’s crucial to compact the soil after this, securing the new gradient and encouraging proper water flow. Don’t forget to add topsoil and plant grass or lay sod for erosion control. Regularly inspecting and cleaning your drainage system is a must to prevent water pooling and soil erosion. Prompt repair of any damages can also save you from future headaches. So, with these tips, you’ll be able to effectively manage water flow around your home and protect your foundation.

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