• Jeremy Horning

How To Level Ground For A Shed - 5 Steps Checklist

Updated: Jul 13


The first step to getting a level shed foundation is to prepare a flat area of ground. You should avoid uneven ground because your shed frame must be on a level surface.

If you're planning on constructing a shed on a slope, make sure that the foundation is flat, so the shed can be stable.


However, a level foundation is needed for your shed before getting started.


Why Is It Important To Level The Ground Before Building A Shed?


Sustainable sheds require a level surface. It may seem like a lot of work at first, but in the end, you'll be grateful you did.

Without making the ground level beneath your shed, it won't last very long, and you certainly don't want all your difficult efforts wasted over a choice you could prevent.


Do You Need To Perfectly Level A Shed Base?


Yes, you need to. The base of your shed must be on even ground, so it doesn't shift out of place when someone walks in or when there's heavy wind. You can check by using a spirit level.

To make the ground for your shed base perfectly level, get some landscaping fabric and 2 by 4 lumber and place it on the ground flat beneath the shed. Gently position the walls and screw them into place at each corner. You should ensure everything is done right while building a shed.


With sheds that include a pre-assembled door frame, you won't need to create one. But if it doesn't, first assemble the door frame before arranging the walls. To extend the life of your shed for many years, add a weed membrane underneath.


What Are The Different Ways To Level The Ground For A Shed?


Levelling the ground before building the floor for a shed requires different site preparations. You need to figure out what works best for you in terms of budget, durability, and ease of installation. Let's look at a few ways to prepare an excavated area of soil for a shed.


Slab


Pouring a concrete slab is one of the most difficult but guaranteed ways of leveling a shed foundation. It can be quite a complicated process because you'll need to excavate the soil in the area, lay a gravel base, assemble wooden planks, and pour and smoothen the concrete.


You'll need to wait for at least a week for the concrete to be dry before placing your shed on it. It doesn't take much to build up a solid base from the ground without a slope. You just need to measure the soil and determine how large the slab should be.


Gravel


A gravel shed foundation is one of the most straightforward ways of leveling a shed floor. Get your measuring tape to measure out the shed's dimensions you wish to use, and excavate the soil from the area to about 7 inches deep.

Depending on your choice, you can decide to mark the outline of the area using plastic or wood edging. Pour the gravel into the shed area and create a smooth surface using a hand tamper.


Use a spirit level on the top layer to see if it is level. Place the spirit level in various locations in the area on top of a wooden beam and carefully drag it across the surface of the gravel so you can create a level ground.

The surface of the beam helps create a gravel-level base for the shed foundation. Note that how much gravel you'll need to fill depends on the depth and slope of the area where you want to install the shed.


Concrete Blocks


You can also use concrete blocks to level your shed floor. Check what kind of footers are recommended by your local building authority.

Measure out the graded area and ensure it's level to a large extent. Dig out a portion at the front of the shed if you're dealing with an overly steep slope.


Use thick concrete blocks to get all sides of the shed to the same height. Manoeuvre the dirt under each block using a shovel, and make sure that the top is level and there are no low areas.

Place a long board on the concrete blocks with a level on it to ensure the foundation is level on all sides.


Piers


Using a pier system for leveling shed bases is perfect for dealing with a steep surface. The best part is that the height of each pier can be adjusted so that they all support the weight of the shed floor evenly. First, measure out the dimensions of the slope, and after completing that, calculate what height of pier will be correct to use for the depth you need to dig.


Keep filling and adjusting the gravel until you get to the point where the top of each pier is level with the others on all sides. Put the joists and check if the shed site is perfectly straight, square, and level.


What Is The Easiest Way To Level Ground For A Shed Foundation?


We agree that not everyone loves the stress that comes with having to level ground. If you don't like the options listed above, you can always follow the easy way, using a laser level.

You don't need any technical skills to understand how to operate it. A laser level gives a detailed reading on the direction where you should start your digging, making it easy to build a shed foundation.


You can buy one at any hardware store, plus it doesn't cost an arm and leg. If you want to always get an accurate reading, we advise you to purchase the high-end kind, like the ones used in construction sites with a rating of +/- 1/8 inch.


What Are The Tools And Equipment You Will Need?

When building a foundation for small or larger sheds on uneven ground, you'll need a few tools to get it right:

  • Shovel

  • Pea gravel

  • Wooden planks

  • Spray paint (optional)

  • Measuring tape

  • Level

  • String

  • Mallet

  • Rake

  • Tamper

  • Square

Step-By-Step Instructions


Before you start building a shed foundation on your property, ensure that you have met all the zoning requirements of your state and all preparation instructions have been followed, or you're at risk of breaking the law.


Let's move on to our step-by-step guide:


Plan and Prepare Everything


Planning and preparation involve selecting the best location to build a shed. When choosing a location, you need to consider factors like sun exposure, accessibility to water, and aesthetics.

Do you intend to build a retaining wall? Will you need space in the shed to park a vehicle? Answering these questions will be helpful in choosing the right location for your shed.


Another important factor to consider is drainage. You want to build your shed foundation where it cannot be affected by moisture from the topsoil, which will damage it in the long run.



As we mentioned earlier, you need to be sure that your state's building codes and HOA laws permit you to have a shed.


After all, it's a waste of money and effort to build a shed only to have it dismantled because it was positioned too close to a property line or existing structures. To make sure the spacing isn't an issue, mark out the footprint of your shed base to be 25-30% larger than the size of the shed.


Staking and Squaring


After choosing the location to lay your shed foundation, it's time to mark out the area. Using a stake at each corner, run a string between each corner to mark the area, and square the corners. The shed pad will vary in size depending on the foundation you choose.

  1. Start by placing the first stake at the first corner, and be sure that it's straight to avoid errors in measurements. You can use a level if you feel the stake is positioned to one side.

  2. The next step is to pound in the second stake at 4' away from the first stake. Place the third stake at 3' away from the first, make sure it's as square as possible, and attach a string around the third stake. Use your measuring tape and measure the space between the second and third stake, and ensure it's 5'. If all three stakes are in the right position, you should have a triangle shape that you can use for squaring the rest of your shed foundation.

  3. Install the corner stakes by using the triangle as an angle square. Adjust your string 15' away from the first stake and put in another stake at the 15' mark. Repeat the same process on the other side but use 13' this time.

  4. Measure out 13' from one corner and 15' from the other to get the location of the next stake (fourth stake).

  5. Stretch a line tightly around all four stakes, and use your spray paint to mark the footprint of your shed base, so you can remove the lines before excavation.

Excavation


Now is the time to start the digging and excavating process. Before deciding on the method, know what's underneath the ground, such as utility wires.

If you are unsure, you can request your utility company to help mark out the area before you are ready to remove any plants or debris.


After this has been taken care of, you can proceed with removing topsoil and weeds around the entire area that's marked and continue digging a few inches away from the marked spot.


Removing the topsoil is necessary because it has a soft texture and can affect the quality of your foundation. Plus, it'll be too fragile to support the weight of the shed.


TIP: Don't dispose of the excavated topsoil because it's rich in nutrients and can be used for other ideas or projects in your garden.

Keep digging until you get to about half a shovel's head deep into the soil, and when you have, that's a sign you should stop.


After you have cleared the area of grass and trees, use a 2 by 4 plank to see if it's level. If the plank is too long, you can make adjustments until it fits the graded area. Put a spirit level on top of the plank and move it from one end of the excavation to the other. If you notice a higher area, you can excavate again while checking the level.


Install A Perimeter


This process is optional, and you can choose to avoid it, and it won't cause any problems in your shed foundation. However, it'll help you achieve a neat finish.

  1. Begin the first step by cutting lengths of 4 by 6 wood for the frame and laying them in place. Ensure each is firmly installed at the edges. Join the 4 by 6 lengths with screws, and use a measuring tape to measure across the corners and square the frame.

  2. Drill holes for pins, and place two pins approximately 4" away from the ends. Double-check to ensure that the 4 by 6 frame is not on uneven ground, and make the needed adjustments.

  3. For those who love to get creative and use the 4 by 6 perimeter as a retaining wall, add extra courses until the wall is high enough. Cover up the outside edges around the 4 by 6 frame with soil.

Fill In The Shed Base


After you have overcome the hurdle of uneven ground and a level shed floor, it's time to choose the type of shed base you want.

You can opt for a gravel pad by infilling the hole with about 4" of pea gravel, but you'll need a plank to make it smooth and a level for creating an even surface. Pea gravel is a bit expensive, and you'll need a large amount.


However, if you want to purchase pea gravel in bulk, you might be able to get it at a cheaper price. Check out the local stores or retailers online, and you might just save yourself a few bucks.


Some homeowners prefer to lay landscape fabric before pouring the pea gravel into the hole. This is to prevent weeds from growing into the shed and help hold the overall foundation firmly by creating a layer between the gravel and dirt.


We recommend this step, but it's not typically required, so the choice is yours.

Alternatively, you can use a concrete pad, but it's a more expensive option.


Conclusion



Generally, level ground is the first move to having a long-lasting shed floor. It doesn't matter what location you place your shed, if the shed base isn't on an even floor, then it will cause problems later.


Note that whether you choose to use concrete blocks, a pier system, or another method for your shed foundation, a level base is essential to build a shed that lasts.

Most homeowners already have a flat surface in their backyard, so it's a lot easier to develop a site with our complete guide on how to level ground for a shed.


In conclusion, leveling the ground and marking out a shed foundation in your yard is not as difficult as it may seem.


With a little bit of planning and some simple tools, you can easily create a level foundation that will provide a stable base for your shed. By following these steps, you can be sure that it will be built on a solid foundation that will last for years to come.


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