How To Build Up Soil Around A House Foundation

Chad Kilpatrick
by Chad Kilpatrick

The soil around the foundation of your home needs to have the correct grade for drainage. You may also need to improve the soil so that you can grow plants. We’ve put together this quick guide for you if you need to know how to build up the soil around a house foundation.

To build up soil around a house foundation, place a level on a 10-foot board next to the foundation and lift the opposite end of the board until level. Measure the distance between the board and the ground and begin building up the dirt around the foundation. There needs to be a 5-6-inch slope for drainage within a 10-ft span.

Before you start building up soil around your home’s foundation, ensure that you mark all electrical and gas lines. When people build new homes, they often neglect the soil around the foundation. Us this article to know what you need to do to improve and build up the soil around your house’s foundation.

Do You Need Mulch, Soil, Sand, or Rock Delivery?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.

Before You Build Up Soil Around A House Foundation, Contact Your Utility Companies

Before you get started on this project, you need to do two things. First, you need to call your utility companies to have them mark their utility lines, so you can avoid any accidents.

Next, when they come out, you will want them to place marking flags down so that the areas to avoid are visible to you. If the companies mark the ground with spray paint, instead of using flags, buy your own flags to mark the areas.

They need to be visible to you at all times. This is only needed if you intend on improving the soil.

Safety is the most important part of any project that involves electric or gas lines. You will not need any permits to work on the soil around your foundation; just be aware of anything that could be a danger.

Why Do You Need To Build Up Soil Around a House Foundation?

To improve your home’s exterior look, you may want to add plants or grass to that area. However, if the soil and foundation are in bad shape, you can’t grow anything there because of the poor soil quality.

You can build up the dirt to improve the soil to grow plants next to your foundation. Usually, the soil used around a foundation has a lot of fill soil and junk left over from the build.

You will need to work the soil to improve it to grow plants, flowers, shrubs, and even grass. You need to accomplish this improvement of soil quality while still maintaining the grade for drainage.

The soils around your house foundation must have a sloped grade so that water sheds away from the foundation. This slope helps avoid any issues with the foundation itself.

Everything sits on the foundation of your home. It can be one of the most costly things to repair from things like improper drainage and deterioration. Therefore, building up the dirt around your foundation to a sloped grade is vital to the health of your foundation.

What Size Slope Do I Need When I Build Up Soil Around A House Foundation?

The dirt needs to be at least 7 inches from the bottom of the siding. This helps avoid pests like termites and water damage to your siding. The slope for your soil should be a downslope of at least 5-6 inches over a 10 ft span. This helps drain the water away from the foundation.

What Is the Best Soil To Put Around A House Foundation?

Before you build up the soil around a house foundation, you need to decide what kind of soil you are going to use. If you are planning on putting a gravel path or some other type of rocky landscape around your foundation, you may be able to get away with just using fill dirt.

However, if you are planning on growing grass or any type of plant, you will need to improve the soil first. Therefore, you need to remove some of the fill dirt and replace it with quality topsoil. You’ll need to till the ground using a rototiller.

By removing some of the fill soil and replacing it with topsoil, you will drastically improve the quality of the soil. This will make it so you can grow plants up to your foundation. Plan the landscaping around your foundation so that it retains the slope for drainage.

How Do I Raise the Soil Around My House Foundation?

Raising the grade around your foundation is not too hard. It involves adding or removing dirt so that the grade is sloped enough to allow drainage away from the house’s foundation. You will need a few tools to get started.

  • Shovel
  • 10’ Straight board
  • Level
  • Rake
  • Rototiller

Step 1: Measure The Grade

Measure the current grade and slope of your house. Place the 10’ straight board out from your foundation, and put a level on top.

Raise the end of the board facing the lawn until it is level. There should be 5-6 inches in the 10 ft span to allow proper drainage away from the foundation.

Step 2: Gradually Build Up The Soil Around The House Foundation

Dump your soil up against the foundation in one area and begin to build up the soil. Use a rake to get the soil at an even grade.

Use your board to check that it has the 5-6 in slope in the grade. Once you have the correct slope, begin to fill in the dirt around the foundation.

Step 3: Make Adjustments To The Grade

You will need to fill out 8-10 feet of the ground around your foundation to meet the 5-6 inch slope in a 10 ft span. Use the rake to even out the ground and check for inconsistencies. Add or remove dirt as necessary and level it out with the rake.

Tip — Use a rototiller to loosen up the soil to improve the quality of the earth for planting. Remove some of the fill soil after tilling it, add topsoil to mix into the ground, and rototill it together again.

Ways To Prevent Soil Erosion Under The Foundation

When you build up the soil around your home’s foundation, you help prevent soil compaction and erosion while improving drainage. The damaging effects of topsoil erosion can be costly. Fortunately, there are many additional preventative measures you can take.

  • Install retaining barriers. Protective barriers, such as retaining walls, can be built at the base of your home’s slope to help reduce soil movement. These barrier walls serve a dual purpose – to prevent erosion and to maintain the pitch.
  • Downspouts and gutters. Correctly installed gutters and downspouts will successfully divert rainwater away from your foundation. As a result, this significantly reduces the erosion under concrete slab foundations. It’s recommended that downspouts should channel water five to ten feet from the base of a structure.
  • Meshes, piles, and nets. In areas where your topsoil is incredibly loose and hard to handle with other measures, you may need to implement covers. There is a wide range of retaining materials, such as piles, high-tensile steel meshes, rock drapes, and sprayed concreted holding compounds.
  • Biological erosion control. Another effective way to handle foundation erosion problems is by using biological agents to enhance soil integrity. Planting flowers and grasses around your home’s foundation can significantly reduce soil loss, as the roots will help to hold it in place. Plus, well-maintained flower beds can add aesthetic appeal to your property. However, it’s important to note, that you should not plant trees too close to your foundation. If the tree has invasive roots, it will cause much more harm than good.
  • French drains. French drains are essentially trenches that house perforated pipes and are surrounded by gravel. This method works by diverting water that seeps through the gravel away from your home’s foundation, effectively reducing soil erosion.

Tips For Improving The Soil Quality

To improve the quality of the soil around your house’s foundation you will need to do a bit of work to the soil. Start by having the area marked for gas and electrical lines. Then you will till the ground next to your foundation with a rototiller.

After the ground is broken up, add a layer of topsoil around the foundation, and till that back into the rest of the soil. This will mix topsoil into the fill soil, improving the quality, and allowing you to grow grass or plants easier.

Next, follow the steps we provided for making sure that the grade is sloped enough for the water to drain away from the foundation.

The more work you put into the soil, adding quality topsoil, and compost, will determine how well the vegetation will grow around your foundation. Keep in mind that no matter what dirt you use, or what you plant, the slope needs to allow for drainage.

Do You Need Mulch, Soil, Sand, or Rock Delivery?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.

Related Questions

Why is the ground sinking around my house?

The ground around your house’s foundation may be sinking if there is water damage or erosion. This could be caused by there not being a proper slope to the grade, that allows water to drain away. Water might pool up and cause the ground to sink.But, if your ground is sinking, this means your foundation issues have likely already reached serious levels. There are other signs that will start to appear first, including drywall cracks, or cracks in the brick. You might also hear noises of the house settling and experience difficulty opening stuck windows.

Should I put gravel around my foundation?

Putting gravel or river rocks around the foundation can help with water drainage. You do not have to do this, however, it would improve the flow of water away from your house’s foundation. Having grass or plants is also fine as long as there is a slope.

Chad Kilpatrick
Chad Kilpatrick

I'm a writer that is passionate about home improvements, remodeling, and renovating. I enjoy learning new skills and techniques and sharing them with others.

More by Chad Kilpatrick