Grading and Drainage References

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    Jared Chase

    I recently started my first grading and drainage class and have ran into a couple of problems.  It hasn’t been terribly difficult but if I’m stuck on a problem, I don’t have much information to help me out on.  The book we are using for the course is Site Engineering for Landscape Architects.  It seems like a good book but it doesn’t always have what I’m looking for.

    So anyways, does anybody have any other book recommendations or references?
    Trace One

    Landphair and Klatt, Landphair and Klatt..Get an old copy if you can, I don’t think the updates improved it..

    Steve Roberts

    There is not a whole lot to grading Jared, if you could be more specific about what it is your having issues with, I would be happy to help.

    Jared Chase

    I will check those books out. Fortunately I found that our library at school has copies of both of those books.

    Steve, I’m not exactly having issues with any particular area but if I get stuck on a problem, I don’t have enough reference material to work out the problem. The book we are using in class has helped me a lot but sometimes it doesn’t have specifically what I’m looking for. At the moment, we are working on swales.

    John Woods

    +1 for Grade Easy

    Kellie Spence

    Hi Jared,

    I know exactly what you mean. Here I found the book you already referenced helpful. Here are some others from my Site Grading class course list.

    Hope it helps,



    4. Nelischer, M. (1985-1992), Handbook of Landscape Architectural Construction Vol. 1-4, Washington, D.C.; Landscape Architecture Foundation
    5. Munson, Albe E. (1974), Construction Design for Landscape Architects and Builders, New York: McGraw-Hill
    6. Parker and Ambrose (1993), Simplified Engineering for Architects and Builders, New York: John Wiley & Sons Inc.
    7. Rubenstein, Harvey M. (1996), A Guide to Site Planning and Landscape Construction, New York: Wiley.

    Jared Chase

    Keith, I’m not really having any problems specifically. I’m more so just looking for reference material to study and refer to when a problem arises.

    Thanks Kellie, I will definitely look into some of those books.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    I was a TA in grading and drainage when I was in school and tutored someone just last year. Almost all the stress and problems came back to the same thing. That is slope = rise/run or vertical/horizontal (s=v/h). More specifically, it is understanding what you know and what you are trying to calculate for. A huge percentage of people get themselves confused with this. It is one of the first things you learn in the class and is very simple. Most other grading and drainage issues don’t seem to be any more difficult than any other subject.

    My pinion is that the best thing that you can do to keep up to speed in your class is to get very comfortable in exercising that formula in each of its forms (s=v/h, v=s/h, h=vs). The little voice in your head should always be asking you “where am I and where am I going?”. If you answer both of those with a number that you know, it tells you which formula to use.The biggest problem is that people get confused on which formula to use because they get confused as to what they are solving for. Most of that is because people mistake that knowing the the spot elevation is the same thing as knowing the change in elevation and don’t know what to solve for. If you get that down early, you’ll have no problem. If you don’t, the class will snowball on you.

    An algebra and geometry would be more targeted for most of the problems people have. Reading more complex books adds to the overwhelm and overload in my opinion if the above situation is the problem. Again, my observation is that it almost always is the problem.

    Ed Siribohdi

    I vote for ‘Grade Easy’ too. Otherwise, go gather some used cardboards and starts building contour model. That is the best way to learn grading.

    Thomas J. Johnson

    +1 for Ed’s recommendation. Build one of these and you will be able to burn contours onto paper with your minds eye… or you might go insane. Either way, rest assured, you’ll never view the world the same way again…

    That’s a quarter for scale on the right.

    Jared Chase

    Thanks everybody for the help. It took me a long time but I was able to solve my problem without too many issues. I think I’m finally starting to understand how to design swales. I’m still having problems finding out how far to set my HPS away from the slab but for the most part, no major issues.

    Anyways, as far as books go. I found Grade Easy to be very helpful because it breaks everything down in simple language. I also thought that Landscape Architecture Graphic Standards was helpful visually.

    Jim Del Carpio


    The references listed are all excellent, however, the best method to gain the skill of grading is to practice and keep practicing. Get your on hands on as many practice vignettes, check out Google LARE Grading section. last time I checked there were plenty of Vignettes to choose from. Remember, Practice, Practice etc…

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