Home & Garden

Advice Needed: Should I level my lawn

  • Last Updated:
  • Apr 10th, 2020 1:32 pm
[OP]
Jr. Member
Sep 10, 2006
130 posts
40 upvotes
Toronto

Advice Needed: Should I level my lawn

Hello RFDers,

Our house is relatively new about 3-year old. When checking our backyard, there seem to be some low spots and they are mainly in 2 areas.
1. In the middle where I can see a line/trench kind of area that is about 3-5cm lower than other spots
2. Along the boundary with my neighbour where the fences have recently been built.

I have been thinking about levelling the low spots.
However, since the slope of the backyard is towards the house (shown in the blue arrow) and I am not sure by levelling the low spots would it cause drainage issue? I assume without the levelling, the rain would just be able to flow along the trench/boundary but if everything is levelled would the water just stuck there?
Also checked my neighbours - my neighbour on the left (with the same builder) also has the same issue (low area in the middle), but my neighbour on the right (with a different builder) does not have this problem.
Or would it just be me overthinking?

Thanks a lot for all the advice!!!
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14 replies
Member
Jun 23, 2019
359 posts
195 upvotes
I believe the grading is up to the city/town and not the builder. I am going though a similar issue myself, the sides of my house have pools of water after it rains. I contacted the builder and they told me the town is responsible for the grading. I would contact the city first and see what they say, it could be designed that way for drainage.
[OP]
Jr. Member
Sep 10, 2006
130 posts
40 upvotes
Toronto
Thanks! I will send an email to the city.
Just weird that one of my neighbours is also having the same thing but the other does not...
I am not sure if it is just due to the sloppiness of my builder.
vrscdx wrote: I believe the grading is up to the city/town and not the builder. I am going though a similar issue myself, the sides of my house have pools of water after it rains. I contacted the builder and they told me the town is responsible for the grading. I would contact the city first and see what they say, it could be designed that way for drainage.
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Oct 15, 2007
5171 posts
2592 upvotes
vrscdx wrote: I believe the grading is up to the city/town and not the builder. I am going though a similar issue myself, the sides of my house have pools of water after it rains. I contacted the builder and they told me the town is responsible for the grading. I would contact the city first and see what they say, it could be designed that way for drainage.
Why would the city be responsible for the grading on your property?

The developer or homeowner are responsible for lot grading

At this point 3 years later it is the homeowners responsibility
Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again. - Andre Gide
Deal Fanatic
Jan 25, 2007
9983 posts
5255 upvotes
Paris
I graded out some low spots in my lawn years ago. Its just the way it settled. I would scalp the lawn once in a while with the lawnmower and in one case I had a 8” pothole in my lawn. So long as the mower didnt run over the edge, it looked the same as every other spot on my lawn but when you stepped in it you could easily twist an ankle.

I would not adjust anything at the edges of your property. That is where you should be directing water as best you can.
[OP]
Jr. Member
Sep 10, 2006
130 posts
40 upvotes
Toronto
Thanks! If I dont put more soil on the edge it will look awful. The gap looks pretty big and i think even small animals can cross.
Jerico wrote: I graded out some low spots in my lawn years ago. Its just the way it settled. I would scalp the lawn once in a while with the lawnmower and in one case I had a 8” pothole in my lawn. So long as the mower didnt run over the edge, it looked the same as every other spot on my lawn but when you stepped in it you could easily twist an ankle.

I would not adjust anything at the edges of your property. That is where you should be directing water as best you can.
Deal Addict
Dec 17, 2007
2364 posts
1335 upvotes
Alliston, ON
My newish build house has the same grading down the property/fence line. The builder did it to help direct the water away from the houses. I ended up putting 3/4 stone down along the fence line to act as drainage and it helped big time to clear up the constant wet area that would remain near the fence.

Your lot should not be graded towards the house, that could cause issues down the road. Your backyard should be graded towards that big catch basin on your neighbours yard.
Sr. Member
Jun 26, 2019
977 posts
733 upvotes
Have all the final approvals been granted for your subdivision? Including final grading sign off?

You have a rear lot catchbasin, I assume most, if not all of the rear lot drainage is supposed to go there. I would confirm this, do you have an address or a street name you could provide so we could see the general area?

Generally, you are allowed to level or fill in low spots as long as you do not adversely impact existing drainage patterns. Seeing the grades in your picture and the rear lot catchbasin, I assume everything is supposed to go there. So evening out everything so you can good drainage to there, is probably fine.

Again, should confirm the original subdivision grading design if possible. But if there is a highpoint in your side yard, assume that its a split drainage lot and all the rear lot drainage should be picked up by that catchbasin.
Deal Addict
Dec 25, 2012
1060 posts
403 upvotes
Toronto
SubjectivelyObjective wrote: Have all the final approvals been granted for your subdivision? Including final grading sign off?

You have a rear lot catchbasin, I assume most, if not all of the rear lot drainage is supposed to go there. I would confirm this, do you have an address or a street name you could provide so we could see the general area?

Generally, you are allowed to level or fill in low spots as long as you do not adversely impact existing drainage patterns. Seeing the grades in your picture and the rear lot catchbasin, I assume everything is supposed to go there. So evening out everything so you can good drainage to there, is probably fine.

Again, should confirm the original subdivision grading design if possible. But if there is a highpoint in your side yard, assume that its a split drainage lot and all the rear lot drainage should be picked up by that catchbasin.
Theres also a fine line with this
..basically being neighborly

My neighbor interlocked his whole backyard last summer and now I have his water coming down onto my side. The whole side is constantly wet...only thing I can do now is raise that side with more grass in suppose
JS
Deal Guru
User avatar
Mar 13, 2004
11298 posts
3037 upvotes
Toronto, Ontario
I would slope everything toward that drain, dont make it flat you need some slope so the water finds its way to the drain and away from your house.
0_o
<_<
>_>
[OP]
Jr. Member
Sep 10, 2006
130 posts
40 upvotes
Toronto
[Update by OP]

Thanks everyone for the great advice!!!
I contacted the city for the grading drawings and they responded super fast! The inspector even offered to come to visit our lot just to make sure the grading/drainage is good.
Thumbs up to those people who work hard during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also attaching the drawing...
It proves that the low area (called "swale" per the inspector) was built for drainage purpose. Per the arrows, water will be diverted into the drainage and flow to the side of the house.
It's just a bit surprising to me that the swale is in the middle of my backyard and it looks obvious comparing to other areas of the lawn.

Guess I will need to be careful when topdressing my lawn and keep the current slops.

Thanks again for all the help!
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Deal Guru
User avatar
Sep 1, 2005
12599 posts
7324 upvotes
Markham
You might want to wait to see how winter behaves and how water pools before you do anything.

In the meantime, take pictures of your yard at different times to see how sun hits different areas for landscaping, look at magazines/websites for ideas of things that can be done, decide on a budget for the backyard and landscaping and whether you are doing stuff yourself or hiring out.

Sloping toward the house needs to be watched.

I wouldn't worry about the gaping along fence line. Do some plantings/garden beds so you aren't staring at an entire wall of fencing and you won't see the gaping.

If there are distinct low spots, they will always be moist. I'd take out the grass and plant plants which tolerate or thrive in wet areas. Garden centres can help with plant choices.

What you do in that backyard will depend on budget...there are ways to deal with slopes and levels like creating distinct levels and using retaining walls to segregate areas etc.
We're all bozos on the bus until we find a way to express ourselves...

Failure is always an option...just not the preferred one!
Sr. Member
Jun 26, 2019
977 posts
733 upvotes
No.6 wrote: [Update by OP]

Thanks everyone for the great advice!!!
I contacted the city for the grading drawings and they responded super fast! The inspector even offered to come to visit our lot just to make sure the grading/drainage is good.
Thumbs up to those people who work hard during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also attaching the drawing...
It proves that the low area (called "swale" per the inspector) was built for drainage purpose. Per the arrows, water will be diverted into the drainage and flow to the side of the house.
It's just a bit surprising to me that the swale is in the middle of my backyard and it looks obvious comparing to other areas of the lawn.

Guess I will need to be careful when topdressing my lawn and keep the current slops.

Thanks again for all the help!
That's pretty quick response time.

Anyways, that's some pretty bad/not well thought out grading by your subdivision engineer. On the plus side, it looks like you are not responsible for conveying any external drainage (ie, drainage from neighbouring lots).

Just a few more points, you should always have at least 6 inches of depth in a swale, so if you compare your current grades to the low points against your house, the bottom of the swale should be 6 inches below the the grade next to your foundation.

Also, give that the proposed design calls for 4.4% grades where you say you have ponding, or a low spot, clearly something has changed, most likely everything settled, and the grades no longer reflect the intended grades. If you have at least a 2% grade on landscaped area, it should be perfectly fine drainage wise and never really be soggy or collect water.

As the inspector so graciously volunteered to come take a look, I would take him up on that offer. Then ask him about remedying it. I think generally you may be looking at adding more soil/fill on your backyard to raise it up and provide better drainage, this would require even more soil/fill along your house to make sure water drains away.
[OP]
Jr. Member
Sep 10, 2006
130 posts
40 upvotes
Toronto
Thank you very much for the advice!
SubjectivelyObjective wrote: That's pretty quick response time.

Anyways, that's some pretty bad/not well thought out grading by your subdivision engineer. On the plus side, it looks like you are not responsible for conveying any external drainage (ie, drainage from neighbouring lots).

Just a few more points, you should always have at least 6 inches of depth in a swale, so if you compare your current grades to the low points against your house, the bottom of the swale should be 6 inches below the the grade next to your foundation.

Also, give that the proposed design calls for 4.4% grades where you say you have ponding, or a low spot, clearly something has changed, most likely everything settled, and the grades no longer reflect the intended grades. If you have at least a 2% grade on landscaped area, it should be perfectly fine drainage wise and never really be soggy or collect water.

As the inspector so graciously volunteered to come take a look, I would take him up on that offer. Then ask him about remedying it. I think generally you may be looking at adding more soil/fill on your backyard to raise it up and provide better drainage, this would require even more soil/fill along your house to make sure water drains away.

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