Cost to regrade/flatten a backyard

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
Post Reply
Topic Author
nepats
Posts: 314
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2009 11:56 am

Cost to regrade/flatten a backyard

Post by nepats » Fri May 17, 2019 9:12 am

Hello All-

Has anyone regraded their yards to flatten it? My backyard is half slopped, so kids don't play out there too much. I am in the process of getting some estimates now. I like to hear your experience if you have done it before. Very rough first estimate came in way to :dollar :dollar . Here are some details

1. 87 Linear feet
2. 4 Feet Keystone wall
3. aprox 1/4 acre to redo and sod in the total cost was $6-7K

The estimate came in at roughly $23K, at $60/SQ feet. This is Northern Virginia, so probably a significant markup compared to LCOL areas.
Last edited by nepats on Fri May 17, 2019 9:17 am, edited 1 time in total.

Jack FFR1846
Posts: 11799
Joined: Tue Dec 31, 2013 7:05 am
Location: 26 miles, 385 yards west of Copley Square

Re: Cost to regrade/flatten a backyard

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Fri May 17, 2019 9:14 am

Including the wall, which I think would be a significant portion of this.....so the $60/sq ft is meaningless, this sounds excessively cheap.
Bogle: Smart Beta is stupid

Topic Author
nepats
Posts: 314
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2009 11:56 am

Re: Cost to regrade/flatten a backyard

Post by nepats » Fri May 17, 2019 9:16 am

Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 9:14 am
Including the wall, which I think would be a significant portion of this.....so the $60/sq ft is meaningless, this sounds excessively cheap.
Yes, the regrading/sodding is roughly 6-7K. I have no idea of what the "average" cost is to do this, so definitely getting more estimates.

Wellfleet
Posts: 557
Joined: Sun Jan 26, 2014 8:18 pm

Re: Cost to regrade/flatten a backyard

Post by Wellfleet » Fri May 17, 2019 9:20 am

I had about 5,000 square feet re-graded last summer and lots of loam brought in. I then seeded grass myself in the fall. Cost was $2,500 in New England.

miamivice
Posts: 2224
Joined: Tue Jun 11, 2013 11:46 am

Re: Cost to regrade/flatten a backyard

Post by miamivice » Fri May 17, 2019 9:20 am

nepats wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 9:12 am
Hello All-

Has anyone regraded their yards to flatten it? My backyard is half slopped, so kids don't play out there too much. I am in the process of getting some estimates now. I like to hear your experience if you have done it before. Very rough first estimate came in way to :dollar :dollar . Here are some details

1. 87 Linear feet
2. 4 Feet Keystone wall
3. aprox 1/4 acre to redo and sod

The estimate came in at roughly $23K, at $60/SQ feet. This is Northern Virginia, so probably a significant markup compared to LCOL areas.
We will not know based on the information provided. The estimates are probably correct.

(If we wanted to estimate, or review your estimates, we would need more information broken down as follows:

1. Cubic yards of dirt to be brought in, and type of dirt (topsoil versus pit run)
2. Square footage of area where dirt is to be spread out (sounds like 10,000 square feet)

The information you provided would indicate that you are looking to fill an area that is 87 feet wide by 114 feet long. I assume it is even slope and drops 4 feet over 114 feet. This would need 750 yards of dirt to be brought in, which is a huge number. (This is also a huge backyard, so I am guessing that all 10,000 square feet doesn't slope down, but I can only go off what is in your post.)

I had 450 yards of dirt brought in and spread out for a different project that ran me $13,000, so my best guess would be $26,000 if the numbers above are right. That might be more or less - mine did not involve keystone walls or sod, but did require more extensive grading.

Topic Author
nepats
Posts: 314
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2009 11:56 am

Re: Cost to regrade/flatten a backyard

Post by nepats » Fri May 17, 2019 9:23 am

Wellfleet wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 9:20 am
I had about 5,000 square feet re-graded last summer and lots of loam brought in. I then seeded grass myself in the fall. Cost was $2,500 in New England.
Thanks!

miamivice
Posts: 2224
Joined: Tue Jun 11, 2013 11:46 am

Re: Cost to regrade/flatten a backyard

Post by miamivice » Fri May 17, 2019 9:24 am

As others said, you have no need to bring in sod. Grass grows just fine from seed, however, you will lose a season (or maybe half a season) of use of the yard which might be problematic if you have kids. Will save a lot of money.

While I am not sure what a Keystone wall is, I would think that building a wall would be a good DIY type project that will save bucketloads of money. Maybe there are some YouTube videos that will help show you whether or not you can take this on?

Be sure to get engineering if needed. 4' is right borderline as to whether an engineered wall is needed.

HomeStretch
Posts: 4403
Joined: Thu Dec 27, 2018 3:06 pm

Re: Cost to regrade/flatten a backyard

Post by HomeStretch » Fri May 17, 2019 9:27 am

Our backyard was extensively regraded, stone walls built, soil/sod added, ledge removed, and pool/shed/sport court/drainage/irrigation/lighting installed in 2 separate backyard renovations. HCOL area. Much more expensive than I originally assumed. Best home project we ever did as our yard was very sloped and not family friendly prior to project.

Best advice I can offer is to get multiple quotes from insured contractors that are experienced in the work and have the right machinery and labor force.

It’s hard to give feedback on your quote without knowing how extensive the regrading and wall construction is. The quote is affected by many factors: are landscape architect/permits/inspections required, how many machine and man days are involved, is a bobcat or larger more expensive machine required, do you have any trees/stumps/ledge removal involved, is wall built from stone or concrete block, do you have to bring stone in, are they adding drainage, etc.

Good luck.

mw1739
Posts: 671
Joined: Mon Mar 21, 2011 5:44 pm

Re: Cost to regrade/flatten a backyard

Post by mw1739 » Fri May 17, 2019 9:29 am

Your price for re-grading and sod sounds about right for a 1/4 acre yard, but your price ($60/square foot) is off if you truly have 1/4 acre (approx. 10,000 square feet). That would be $60k vs. the $23k estimate.

Topic Author
nepats
Posts: 314
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2009 11:56 am

Re: Cost to regrade/flatten a backyard

Post by nepats » Fri May 17, 2019 9:31 am


We will not know based on the information provided. The estimates are probably correct.

(If we wanted to estimate, or review your estimates, we would need more information broken down as follows:

1. Cubic yards of dirt to be brought in, and type of dirt (topsoil versus pit run)
2. Square footage of area where dirt is to be spread out (sounds like 10,000 square feet)

The information you provided would indicate that you are looking to fill an area that is 87 feet wide by 114 feet long. I assume it is even slope and drops 4 feet over 114 feet. This would need 750 yards of dirt to be brought in, which is a huge number. (This is also a huge backyard, so I am guessing that all 10,000 square feet doesn't slope down, but I can only go off what is in your post.)

I had 450 yards of dirt brought in and spread out for a different project that ran me $13,000, so my best guess would be $26,000 if the numbers above are right. That might be more or less - mine did not involve keystone walls or sod, but did require more extensive grading.
Thanks. I don't have a detailed estimate yet. Yeah aprox. even slope over the area. I will to upload a picture of the yard this weekend to give you a better idea. What does this mean " 4 feet over 114 feet"?

Topic Author
nepats
Posts: 314
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2009 11:56 am

Re: Cost to regrade/flatten a backyard

Post by nepats » Fri May 17, 2019 9:42 am

HomeStretch wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 9:27 am
Our backyard was extensively regraded, stone walls built, soil/sod added, ledge removed, and pool/shed/sport court/drainage/irrigation/lighting installed in 2 separate backyard renovations. HCOL area. Much more expensive than I originally assumed. Best home project we ever did as our yard was very sloped and not family friendly prior to project.

Best advice I can offer is to get multiple quotes from insured contractors that are experienced in the work and have the right machinery and labor force.

It’s hard to give feedback on your quote without knowing how extensive the regrading and wall construction is. The quote is affected by many factors: are landscape architect/permits/inspections required, how many machine and man days are involved, is a bobcat or larger more expensive machine required, do you have any trees/stumps/ledge removal involved, is wall built from stone or concrete block, do you have to bring stone in, are they adding drainage, etc.

Good luck.
Appreciate the feedback. Definitely will be working with the licensed contractors who have done this before. I was told that anything over 4 feet will require a permit with the county. We have a conservation area in the back of the yard that is mostly tall trees. The plan is to build as close to that and mulch the front of the wall. I think this will be $$ well spend for years of enjoyment with the family
Last edited by nepats on Fri May 17, 2019 9:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

Topic Author
nepats
Posts: 314
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2009 11:56 am

Re: Cost to regrade/flatten a backyard

Post by nepats » Fri May 17, 2019 9:43 am

mw1739 wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 9:29 am
Your price for re-grading and sod sounds about right for a 1/4 acre yard, but your price ($60/square foot) is off if you truly have 1/4 acre (approx. 10,000 square feet). That would be $60k vs. the $23k estimate.
Yeah, 60 was for the whole project. About 45 for the wall alone I think.

miamivice
Posts: 2224
Joined: Tue Jun 11, 2013 11:46 am

Re: Cost to regrade/flatten a backyard

Post by miamivice » Fri May 17, 2019 10:04 am

nepats wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 9:31 am

We will not know based on the information provided. The estimates are probably correct.

(If we wanted to estimate, or review your estimates, we would need more information broken down as follows:

1. Cubic yards of dirt to be brought in, and type of dirt (topsoil versus pit run)
2. Square footage of area where dirt is to be spread out (sounds like 10,000 square feet)

The information you provided would indicate that you are looking to fill an area that is 87 feet wide by 114 feet long. I assume it is even slope and drops 4 feet over 114 feet. This would need 750 yards of dirt to be brought in, which is a huge number. (This is also a huge backyard, so I am guessing that all 10,000 square feet doesn't slope down, but I can only go off what is in your post.)

I had 450 yards of dirt brought in and spread out for a different project that ran me $13,000, so my best guess would be $26,000 if the numbers above are right. That might be more or less - mine did not involve keystone walls or sod, but did require more extensive grading.
Thanks. I don't have a detailed estimate yet. Yeah aprox. even slope over the area. I will to upload a picture of the yard this weekend to give you a better idea. What does this mean " 4 feet over 114 feet"?
With the dimensions you provided, it sounds like your backyard is 114 feet deep. Between the house and the end of your backyard, the yard drops 4' down from level.

donall
Posts: 916
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2012 6:45 am

Re: Cost to regrade/flatten a backyard

Post by donall » Fri May 17, 2019 10:47 am

If you have a conservation area with mature trees, check codes and authorizing area about building wall. Some trees such as White Oaks are very sensitive to grade changes and in three years you can have dozens of dead trees.

User avatar
Kenkat
Posts: 6223
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 11:18 am
Location: Cincinnati, OH

Re: Cost to regrade/flatten a backyard

Post by Kenkat » Fri May 17, 2019 10:50 am

Walls are very expensive. If you are talking a four foot wall spanning 87 feet, that’s gonna be serious :moneybag :moneybag :moneybag

FI4LIFE
Posts: 487
Joined: Sun Apr 28, 2019 9:27 am

Re: Cost to regrade/flatten a backyard

Post by FI4LIFE » Fri May 17, 2019 11:29 am

I did a similar sized project. I can't remember how much fill we brought in but the wall was about 90'. We did a 3 1/2 foot tall boulder wall and reseeded an area approximately 1/4 acre. Cost us $19k. Dirt ain't cheap. This is HCOL New York City suburbs. We wanted a taller wall but at that height in our area it would have needed to be an engineered wall and would have needed further approvals from our city due to wetlands on property. In hindsight, I wish we had gone taller because there is still a slight slope which really annoys me.

I would get 3 quotes.

Topic Author
nepats
Posts: 314
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2009 11:56 am

Re: Cost to regrade/flatten a backyard

Post by nepats » Fri May 17, 2019 12:46 pm

FI4LIFE wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 11:29 am
I did a similar sized project. I can't remember how much fill we brought in but the wall was about 90'. We did a 3 1/2 foot tall boulder wall and reseeded an area approximately 1/4 acre. Cost us $19k. Dirt ain't cheap. This is HCOL New York City suburbs. We wanted a taller wall but at that height in our area it would have needed to be an engineered wall and would have needed further approvals from our city due to wetlands on property. In hindsight, I wish we had gone taller because there is still a slight slope which really annoys me.

I would get 3 quotes.
Great. At least I know that they are within the range, so your feedback definitely helps. With 3 foot wall without engineering, I would lose some space in the yard since they can't flatten it all the way to the back.

Topic Author
nepats
Posts: 314
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2009 11:56 am

Re: Cost to regrade/flatten a backyard

Post by nepats » Fri May 17, 2019 12:47 pm

donall wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 10:47 am
If you have a conservation area with mature trees, check codes and authorizing area about building wall. Some trees such as White Oaks are very sensitive to grade changes and in three years you can have dozens of dead trees.
Good point, didn't think of that. I had to google, "white oak" :)

Glockenspiel
Posts: 1050
Joined: Thu Feb 08, 2018 1:20 pm

Re: Cost to regrade/flatten a backyard

Post by Glockenspiel » Fri May 17, 2019 12:54 pm

Kenkat wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 10:50 am
Walls are very expensive. If you are talking a four foot wall spanning 87 feet, that’s gonna be serious :moneybag :moneybag :moneybag
This. I would have guessed the $23k was just for the wall. I think your first bid was very cheap and would go with it. Walls are insanely expensive.

Topic Author
nepats
Posts: 314
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2009 11:56 am

Re: Cost to regrade/flatten a backyard

Post by nepats » Fri May 17, 2019 12:55 pm

Glockenspiel wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 12:54 pm
Kenkat wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 10:50 am
Walls are very expensive. If you are talking a four foot wall spanning 87 feet, that’s gonna be serious :moneybag :moneybag :moneybag
This. I would have guessed the $23k was just for the wall. I think your first bid was very cheap and would go with it. Walls are insanely expensive.
Man, I guess I really have no idea how expensive the walls are. I thought the estimate was pretty high... :confused

Hug401k
Posts: 382
Joined: Fri Mar 28, 2014 7:49 pm

Re: Cost to regrade/flatten a backyard

Post by Hug401k » Fri May 17, 2019 1:03 pm

Definitely get multiple quotes. Ours were all over the place. We ended up hiring a local guy who clears land and does general back hoe work. He basically took dirt from the high points and moved it the lower ones. Brought in some dirt he was getting rid of on another job. Our wall added was only about 18 inches high though and it sloped gently down to that. Later we had someone come in and seed.

curmudgeon
Posts: 2050
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2013 11:00 pm

Re: Cost to regrade/flatten a backyard

Post by curmudgeon » Fri May 17, 2019 1:04 pm

Depending on the layout of the backyard, you might consider doing two lines of wall, maybe one near the house and one at the bottom of the lot. This could keep the individual wall height lower to keep the engineering simpler and avoid potential failure problems over time. If planned well, it might actually enhance the layout by creating some definition of differently used spaces (patio vs play area). I'm a fan of the stacked block walls where each block has a bit of setback from the one below it; this keeps gravity working for you in making the wall more resistant to failure. These are also quite flexible to lay out (a ramp for access between the levels of the yard is nice for using a mower or wheelbarrow).

megabad
Posts: 2789
Joined: Fri Jun 01, 2018 4:00 pm

Re: Cost to regrade/flatten a backyard

Post by megabad » Fri May 17, 2019 2:09 pm

nepats wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 9:42 am
I was told that anything over 4 feet will require a permit with the county.
I would definitely make sure you get whatever approvals are required. In my area, you are required to get more than a permit when you significantly modify stormwater drainage. In my neighborhood there was at least one lawsuit directly related to this when one home owner unilaterally decided he was going to regrade and put in a retaining wall that forced all of the water directly onto his neighbors lot.

Bacchus01
Posts: 3182
Joined: Mon Dec 24, 2012 9:35 pm

Re: Cost to regrade/flatten a backyard

Post by Bacchus01 » Fri May 17, 2019 2:52 pm

Kenkat wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 10:50 am
Walls are very expensive. If you are talking a four foot wall spanning 87 feet, that’s gonna be serious :moneybag :moneybag :moneybag
We had one put in in Charlotte area in 2006. 4’ tall and about 75’ long. Cost then for just the wall was $15K.

Topic Author
nepats
Posts: 314
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2009 11:56 am

Re: Cost to regrade/flatten a backyard

Post by nepats » Fri May 17, 2019 3:13 pm

Bacchus01 wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 2:52 pm
Kenkat wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 10:50 am
Walls are very expensive. If you are talking a four foot wall spanning 87 feet, that’s gonna be serious :moneybag :moneybag :moneybag
We had one put in in Charlotte area in 2006. 4’ tall and about 75’ long. Cost then for just the wall was $15K.
Thanks. That seems in line with our estimate plus about 6-7K for regrade and sod work. Which type of wall was it?

Topic Author
nepats
Posts: 314
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2009 11:56 am

Re: Cost to regrade/flatten a backyard

Post by nepats » Fri May 17, 2019 3:14 pm

megabad wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 2:09 pm
nepats wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 9:42 am
I was told that anything over 4 feet will require a permit with the county.
I would definitely make sure you get whatever approvals are required. In my area, you are required to get more than a permit when you significantly modify stormwater drainage. In my neighborhood there was at least one lawsuit directly related to this when one home owner unilaterally decided he was going to regrade and put in a retaining wall that forced all of the water directly onto his neighbors lot.
Yeah, I will have to do get HOA, neighbors and county approvals if it's over 4 feet

Bacchus01
Posts: 3182
Joined: Mon Dec 24, 2012 9:35 pm

Re: Cost to regrade/flatten a backyard

Post by Bacchus01 » Fri May 17, 2019 7:42 pm

nepats wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 3:13 pm
Bacchus01 wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 2:52 pm
Kenkat wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 10:50 am
Walls are very expensive. If you are talking a four foot wall spanning 87 feet, that’s gonna be serious :moneybag :moneybag :moneybag
We had one put in in Charlotte area in 2006. 4’ tall and about 75’ long. Cost then for just the wall was $15K.
Thanks. That seems in line with our estimate plus about 6-7K for regrade and sod work. Which type of wall was it?
It was a stacked block wall with some retention back into the hill on the other side. They also poured. Concrete base for the wall to sit on. It was well done.

Cobig13
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri May 22, 2020 4:40 pm

Re: Cost to regrade/flatten a backyard

Post by Cobig13 » Fri May 22, 2020 4:45 pm

Bacchus01 wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 2:52 pm
Kenkat wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 10:50 am
Walls are very expensive. If you are talking a four foot wall spanning 87 feet, that’s gonna be serious :moneybag :moneybag :moneybag
We had one put in in Charlotte area in 2006. 4’ tall and about 75’ long. Cost then for just the wall was $15K.
Would you mind telling me who you used in Charlotte? We are up near Huntersville and looking to get our backyard regraded/flattened.

Thanks!

Post Reply