Type of Dirt to Use Around House Foundation

LESLIE: Mark in Illinois is on the line with a question about what dirt to use around house foundation. What’s going on at your money pit?

MARK: I have a 10-year-old house that, as with a lot of houses, the ground around the foundation is settling. And I need to put some fill-in to keep the rain from – or to drain the rain away from the house.


MARK: And I was wondering if there is a particular type of mixture of soil to use to do that.

TOM: Yeah, it’s called “clean fill dirt.” Basically, it’s not rich, like topsoil with a lot of organic material in it. It’s a good type of dirt to use around house foundation. It’s very compactable. I always think it looks kind of like the pitcher’s mound. It has that sort of medium-brown color to it and you can really pack it down well.

So, what you want to do is to sort of rig back some of the topsoil that’s there, add the clean fill dirt, establish slope with that. And if you want to prevent moisture problems, then I would slope the dirt about 10 percent or about 6 inches over 4 feet – a 6-inch drop over 4 feet. Then on top of that, you can add topsoil and replant the grass or add mulch or whatever other groundcover. But clean fill dirt is all you need, Mark.

And I would be careful when buying this from the gravel yard, whoever is selling it, to make sure it doesn’t have glass in it. Ask about that. Make sure it’s really clean. Because sometimes, when you buy fill dirt, it has broken glass in it and you don’t want that to happen.

MARK: Alright. And how far out from the foundation should you fill?

TOM: Well, you want to have that first 4 to 6 feet be sloping away. And then after that, it can have a gentle slope after that.


TOM: And just as important, since we’re talking about drainage issues, is to make sure your gutters are clean and your downspouts are significantly extended away. A lot of times, these gutter installers like to just turn them out about 2 feet at the bottom. You want it to go out 4 to 6 feet.

MARK: Oh, OK. Alright, alright. Well, thank you. I appreciate it.

TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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