Your yard may have a failing grade if it slopes towards your house. This can cause water to pool near your foundation, leading to damage and even basement flooding.
I suspect this was my problem. In some areas, I had 10-12 inches difference in depth from my foundation to the ground a couple metres away from the wall.
If you have a poorly graded yard, you might want to consider fixing it before the ground freezes. By spring, it will be saturated with melting frost, snow, and rain, leaving little opportunity for correction.
To fix the grade:
- Measure the area that you need to fix and calculate how much dirt you will need. The landscaping supply company I consulted suggested 1 cubic yard to cover 100 square feet 3 inches deep. To give you a better idea of quantity, I ordered 6 cubic yards and this filled about about half of a dump truck.
- Most places will deliver. Consider ordering more if you have plans for future landscaping (flowerbeds, gardens, lawn top dress, etc.), then you can save on the delivery charge.
- Put a tarp down for under the soil. Not only does this make easy cleanup, but it will allow you to place all the dirt exactly where you want it. If you are home when the truck arrives and it's possible, have them dump it closes to where you need it. It will save a lot of back-breaking work!
- Start throwing dirt! Build up the area closest to your house, gradually creating a slope away from the house. Be sure to pack the dirt down as you go.
- Leave the dirt to settle for a few days, then check back (preferably after a rain) to see if you need to add more. Aim for a 2-3 inch drop per 10 feet.
- Don't forget to look under decks and porches for problems. We had to remove several boards off of my deck, dump the dirt in by wheelbarrow and rake it out further under the deck.
Finally, be sure that all your eaves and drain pipes are clear of debris and angled away from the house. Consider attaching an extension tile or pipe to carry water further away from the house.
If you need to fix the whole yard, you may want to hire a pro. Here is an article that details this further.