How Much Does Land Grading Cost in 2024?

Typical land grading cost is $0.08 to $2.00 per square foot, and the cost to grade an entire acre ranges from $15,800 to $44,535.

Land grading cost is $0.08 to $2.00 per square foot, with homeowners typically paying $770 to $3,000 to grade and level a 1,000 to 2,000 square foot lot. The price for grading an acre is $15,800 to $44,535, with a national average of $30,000. The cost to grade land varies with project size, site topography, fill dirt cost, permits, and waste removal.

Also known as yard leveling, landscape grading, or re-sloping, land grading reshapes the ground on your property, and it’s essential if you plan to:

  • Solve a rainwater drainage issue 
  • Invest in landscaping 
  • Add a concrete patio or driveway
  • Prevent soil erosion on your property
  • Build an extension to your home
  • Build a new house

During land grading, heavy equipment operators scrape off the ground’s surface, level the soil underneath, and cover it back up with new topsoil. This involves excavating to level a slope, hauling dirt to fill low spots, and compacting the soil. Grading contractors will bring bulldozers, backhoes, and skid steer loaders onto your land and usually work for up to a week.

In this cost guide:

Average land grading costs in 2024

Resloping land typically costs $770 to $3,000 for residential projects, including patio, fence, or swimming pool installation. You can pay as little as $310 to level the yard for a small patio or deck. More complex tasks, such as contouring the soil for drainage, can cost up to $6,910.

National average cost$1,700
Typical price range$770 – $3,000
Extreme low-end cost$310
Extreme high-end cost$6,910

We estimated the national average costs above based on a lot of 1,200 square feet with an average fee of $1.40 per square foot. Note that pricing varies with land size, slope steepness, dirt removal, and scope of the grading project.

Prepare to pay closer to the high-end cost if:

  • The property is on a steep slope, and grading requires more excavation and dirt fill
  • Stumps, trees, and boulders on your land need to be removed
  • Old structures have to be demolished before grading
  • The soil is rocky and harder to work with
  • It’s an extensive grading job on a large property

You can save money by leveling your land DIY if it is a small project, such as grading for a patio or walkway. You can also expect lower costs if the land is already cleared and excavators can dig into the ground without any obstacles.

Land grading cost estimator by size

The size of the area you need to regrade makes an exponential difference in pricing. Leveling a small lot of 500 to 1,000 square feet costs between $400 and $2,000, while grading an acre costs $15,800 to $44,350. 

When searching for grading services and getting quotes, you’ll encounter pricing per square foot of land, per acre, and per hour of work. See below estimates for each case.

Average land grading cost per square foot

The cost to level a yard per square foot is $0.08 to $2.00, with an average of  $1.40. This totals out at $800 to $2,000 to grade an area of 1,000 square feet.

The table below shows estimates of how much you would pay for projects of different sizes if your contractor charges by the square foot. 

Project size Average cost based on square feet
250 sq. ft.$200 – $500
500 sq. ft.$400 – $1,000
1000 sq. ft.$800 – $2,000
1500 sq. ft$1,200 – $3,000

The cost of grading land per square foot depends on the type of grading. If all you need is leveling and smoothing the top 1 to 3 inches of topsoil, the fee is lower. For rough grading, including leveling a slope or shaping the yard for drainage, the price will be closer to the high end.

Grading typeAverage cost per square foot
Fine grading$0.08 to $1.00
Rough grading$1.00 to $2.00

Average land grading cost per acre

Some companies price their grading services using a per-acre fee, especially if it’s a multi-acre project. The cost per acre is typically between $15,800 and $44,535, which means around $3,950 to $11,134 to grade ¼  of an acre. See prices for more project sizes below.

Project size Average cost based on acreage
⅕ acre$3,160 – $8,907
¼ acre$3,950 – $11,134
⅓ acre$5,267 – $14,845
½ acre $7,900 – $22,268
1 acre$15,800 – $44,535

Average land grading cost per hour

Another option is to work with landscaping companies on hourly rates. The cost to grade a yard is typically between $40 to $180 per hour. This includes excavator, skid steer, backhoe, etc., plus operator fees. 

Other factors that affect cost

When wondering how to estimate prices for site grading, keep in mind property size is only one factor. The total cost of leveling land is based on many factors, including the following.

Average cost to grade land by project

Each grading project is different in complexity, size, necessary equipment, and hours of labor needed. Here are the average costs for the most popular.

ProjectAverage project costs
Leveling for patio or deck$670 – $4,500
Grading for driveway installation$1,000 – $5,125
Leveling for the foundation of new construction or additions to a house$1,000 – $6,700
Basic lawn re-leveling for landscaping$650 – $3,600
Regrading around a foundation for drainage issues$835 – $3,000
Grading to install a pool$200 – $850
Removing a hill or slope$1,000 – $5,000

Site accessibility

Land grading cost also depends on how easily excavators, trucks, and heavy equipment can enter your property. A property with old tool sheds, sitting walls, fountains, boulders, and other obstacles makes working on-site more difficult and expensive.

Land survey

You might need a recent topographic survey before grading your land. The cost is typically between $500 and $1,200 and varies with the size and complexity of your property. 

Grading permit cost

A permit is necessary if you disturb over 5,000 square feet of land. The average cost of land grading permits varies from $150 to $485, with significant differences from county to county. 

For example, in Garfield County, Kansas, you’ll pay $100 for minor grading projects under 20,000 sq. ft.; in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, the fee is $400. Pricing is higher for landscape grading over 20,000 sq. ft. (or 5,000 cubic feet of dirt).

Grading plan 

For landscape grading of areas over 20,000 sq. ft., you might need a grading plan signed by a landscape architect. You’ll have to pay the landscape architect to review the plan, and most landscape architects charge $60 to $175 per hour.

Land clearing cost

Bobcats and excavators start grading after the land is cleared of trees, bushes, stumps, and boulders. The cost to clear land is typically from $810 to $5,870 per acre, with higher prices for heavily forested land. Below are the prices for removing individual trees or stumps.

Land clearing serviceAverage cost
Removing a single tree (grading around a tree harms the roots)$385 – $1,070
Removing a single tree stump$120 – $350

Average cost to demolish old structures

You can choose to grade around existing structures such as sheds, old buildings, or even concrete patios. But if you decide to demolish or remove them, here are some costs you should expect.

ServicesAverage cost
Concrete removal$565 – $2,775
Fence removal$270 – $750
Demolition of structures$1,500 – $15,000

Slopes and excavation

To level sloped terrain, your grading contractor will cut dirt from the highest areas and use it to fill low spots. This is called “cut and fill” and requires excavation, a service with an average cost of $60 to $200 per cubic yard of dirt. Prices are higher for steep lots like mountain-side or hillside properties. 

Fill dirt cost

Sometimes, you will need additional dirt to fill low spots and level the yard. The typical price of fill dirt is $6 to $17 per cubic yard. This is the cost of the fill dirt alone, not including the fee for spreading it that grading contractors will also add to your bill.

Drainage installation cost

Resloping is meant to keep water away from your home’s foundation. But you might still need a drainage system for your yard to protect your lawn, trees, and flower beds from standing water. 

Drainage installation costs $1,500 to $11,000 per project and usually involves digging holes or trenches, so it’s best done with the re-grading project. French drains typically cost $10 to $75 per linear foot to install, and installing a dry well costs between $1,350 and $4,255.

Dirt and waste removal

Yard waste, construction waste, and dirt left over from grading and land leveling must be removed from the site. If removal is not included in your grading contract, this is how it will look to pay for it separately.

ServiceAverage cost 
Yard waste removal$60 – $515
Construction waste removal$125 – $750
Dirt removal$105 – $175

Topsoil cost

Because topsoil is removed when grading your land, you must replace it with a new layer before seeding grass or planting flowers. The average cost of topsoil is $11 to $53 per cubic yard, including material and labor. 

Terraced backyard cost

For steep-slope terrain, a terraced backyard can be a good alternative to leveling. This separates the yard into several flat sections placed at different heights in a step-like landscape design. Terracing a backyard costs between $2,100 and $9,300, depending on the linear footage of retaining walls and the price of fill dirt.

Erosion control

After reshaping, your yard surface is bare dirt, which exposes the terrain to soil erosion. Use soil covering and other erosion control methods to protect the land from soil migration. Here are the best options for preventing soil runoff and the average cost of each one. 

ServiceAverage cost
Retaining wall installation$40 to $345 per linear foot
Erosion grid$0.65 to $1.60 per square foot
Sod installation$0.90 to $1.80 per square foot
Grass seeding$0.10 to $0.19 per square foot
Hydroseeding$0.05 to $0.20 per square foot
Bush and shrub planting$25 to $50 per shrub or bush
Mulch cost$45 – $130 per cubic yard

Once the slope is leveled, and the yard is smooth and even, you can start developing the land. Invest in landscaping services and install an effective irrigation system, a driveway, a patio, or a fence.  


A recently graded yard is a blank canvas waiting for landscaping ideas. Expect a typical landscaping cost of $3,300 to $13,200 per project with an average price of $4.50 to $17.00 per square foot.

Irrigation system

After adding new topsoil, your yard is perfectly shaped for flowers, grass, and trees. Install an irrigation system to water them more easily. A sprinkler system costs $0.20 to $1 per square foot, and drip irrigation costs $2 to $4.35 per square foot.

Installing a patio or deck

A stable and durable concrete patio needs sand and crushed stone as a base on a layer of flattened and compacted dirt. If you plan to install a deck or place a patio near the house, this add-on should also slope away from the house to prevent water infiltration. 

The average patio installation cost is $2,290 to $6,420, while the typical cost of a deck is between $3,920 and $10,540.


We mentioned the cost of flattening land to install a fence, but you can also opt for a racked or stepped fence that follows the contour of the yard. The average cost to install a fence ranges from $2,000 to $4,500

Pro cost vs. DIY cost

Land grading is definitely the type of complex work you should leave to professionals. It influences water drainage, soil erosion risk, foundation resistance, and plants’ access to water and nutrients. A lot can go wrong because of faulty land grading, including damaging your property value. 

That being said, you may be able to pull off a DIY land grading project on a small area. Here are the tools you’ll need and their average costs.

DIY cost of leveling a small area

Grading and leveling a small area to install a driveway, walkway, or patio can be done with hand tools, costing around $267. Here’s what you’ll pay on average to buy gradings tools and supplies.

Equipment neededAverage cost
Landscape rake$40
Line and string level$20
Total DIY cost of hand tools for land grading $267

Note: Remember to call 811 and check the location of underground electrical grids, water pipes, or gas mains before digging. If you’re unsure how to grade and level the area, hiring a pro is always better. A professional can level the land for a patio or a deck starting at $670.

Grading equipment rental pricing

Land grading equipment can be rented for an average price of $265 to $500 per day or $795 to $1,515 per week. Most yard grading jobs take from 2 or 3 days to a week. See below the average rental cost for grading equipment. (These costs are for DIY only – they do not include labor costs for a professional operator).

EquipmentRental cost per dayRental cost per week
Bulldozer (better on level terrain)$410 – $620$910 – $2,035
Excavator (better on uneven ground)$240 – $470$850 – $1,480
Backhoe (bigger bucket capacity)$185 – $500$615 – $1,600
Skid steer loader (smaller bucket capacity)$240 – $340$780 – $1,060
Dump truck$250 – $550$815 – $1,400
Average cost to rent grading equipment $265 – $500 per day$795 – $1,515 per week

Choosing the right piece of equipment depends on project and land. This is where pros know best how to balance speed with power and volume. Plus, equipment rentals add up very quickly, so you might end up spending more money on the DIY approach than you would on hiring a pro.

Cost of land grading by location

Grading equipment rental prices and operator fees vary by state. You’ll also pay more to level a city yard than land in a rural area because of accessibility issues and higher labor costs. 

The topography of your area is another cost factor. The price for grading flat land is typically lower than the cost of leveling terrain on hills or mountains.


How do you calculate grading costs?

To calculate grading cost, multiply the land size by the typical price range of $0.80 to $2.00 per square foot. For example, the price for a 2,000 sq. ft. lot is estimated at $1,600 to $4,000.

How much does it cost to grade a ¼ acre?

The cost to grade a ¼ acre yard is typically between $3,950 and $11,134 but will vary with land topography, grading scope, fill dirt cost, and waste removal.

Can I grade my yard myself?

You can level your yard to install a patio or a walkway. For more complex projects, like preparing the site for landscaping or construction, hire a contractor. Faulty grading causes drainage problems, cracks in concrete, and water damage to both yard and home.

Is land grading included in the cost of land?

Razing old structures and land grading are considered ordinary land costs and can, in some cases, be part of the land price when buying or selling. 

Can I use topsoil for grading around a house?

Yes, you can use topsoil to fix negative grading around your house. Make sure the grade is at least 1 inch per foot for up to 10 feet from your home.

Final thoughts 

The average land grading cost is $0.08 to $2.00 per square foot, with a price of $15,800 to $44,535 for leveling an acre of land. Pricing varies with land survey cost, permits, slope steepness, soil type, and grading scope. 

You can pay $200 to $850 to level land for an in-ground pool or $1,000 to $6,700 to prepare a site for a new home. Get quotes from a few grading contractors in your area and compare them to find the best price for leveling your land.

Note: Lawn Love may get a referral fee for matching you with contractors in your area.

Photo by Constanzo Bridgett, USFWS – Pixnio

Sinziana Spiridon

Sinziana Spiridon is an outdoorsy blog writer with a green thumb and a passion for organic gardening. When not writing about weeds, pests, soil, and growing plants, she's tending to her veggie garden and the lovely turf strip in her front yard.