I'm having trouble finding information on grading (most books either cover planting new plants or building retaining walls - but no site preaparation...). I have an L shaped ranch house and I'm trying to grade the front yard away from the house in preparation for the rest of the landscaping. The soil is heavy clay and the previous owners had done some quick landscaping which brought in some new soil, that raised the finish grade above the bottom of the siding. I've dug out 3-4 feet away from the house, but I'm not sure exactly how to finish it off. If someone can recommend a good text I'd be very appreciative, but I'd also welcome any thoughts on the following questions:
1. How far below my cedar siding should the final grade be? (assume 2 to 3 inches of mulch).
2. Do I need to pitch away from the both legs of the "L" shaped ranch, or can it pitch directly to the street? (See photos below)
3. What pitch do I need to grade to? 1/4" per foot?
4. How far out from the foundation do I need to continue that pitch? 5 feet, 10 feet, all the way to the street?
5. When amending heavy clay soil, how deep do I need to till?
6. What equipment should I look for at rental yards for this job?
Here is a plotmap, I'm trying to grade the upper-left quadrant of the drawing. The street is probably 3 feet lower than the entrance to the house: http://www.dvhart.com/sites/www.dvhart.com/files/active/1/309_large.png
Here are some pictures to provide the curious with some context of the total project:
Thanks for reading!