Landscaping Grade

Landscaping Grade

Your landscaping grade is the contouring of land around your home, and has been carefully designed to direct water away from your house. It should only be altered by a professional. Learn how to maintain your yard drainage, keep your grade intact and help prevent water damage to your home.

Landscaping Grade

Professional engineers have established the grade of your homesite to provide drainage away from the home and, in some areas, a certain amount of water retention on the site, using a system of berms (high spots) and swales (low spots). It’s very important to maintain proper drainage away from the house.

Maintain the drainage slope that was established during the landscaping of your yard. Make sure any changes you make to your landscaping, such as adding a new fence or a swimming pool, don’t alter the drainage of your property. In the case of major downpours, expect some water accumulation; however, this water will recede within a reasonable amount of time.


A proper grade away from the home also helps prevent termite infestation. Subterranean termites usually live in the soil below homes. When there isn’t direct contact between the wood framing and the soil, termites build tubes or tunnels to travel from one to the other. The presence of these tubes indicates a termite infestation.

Care and Maintenance

Use these care and maintenance suggestions to prevent moisture and termite damage in your home.

To Maintain Yard Drainage

Don’t change the drainage pattern on homesites designed for some water retention.

Always maintain a 6-inch minimum vertical space between the earth and any siding or stucco. If you don’t, water can enter the joint between the footing and the wall material, or deteriorate the siding, brick, or stucco.

Keep drainage ditches and swales free of leaves, debris, plants, and other elements that may interfere with water flow.

Reestablish the original grade of your homesite if the soil settles over time.

Delay any major landscaping projects until your home is at least one year old. Most soil settlement occurs during the first year.

Hire a licensed landscaper to install or modify your landscaping.

Don’t plant new plants or grass too close to the house. Watering plants near the house can cause leaks into the interior and other water problems.

Changing the drainage pattern on your property during landscaping projects could cause serious water problems.

Call your local utility to have buried electrical, gas, water, and telephone lines located before digging in your yard.

Check for termites each year in the spring. Look for the remains of winged insects. Search the sides of the footing walls for the earthen tubes termites build to reach the wood framing above the foundation. Use the blade of a knife to test the wood for soundness. If you suspect that termites are present, consult a professional exterminator.

See also Gutters and Downspouts and Sprinklers and Irrigation.

If Your Home Is Part of a Homeowners Association (HOA)

Check with your HOA regarding maintenance, and be familiar with all HOA documentation.