In grading to the borders of the place, it is not always necessary, nor even desirable, that a continuous contour should be maintained, especially if the border is higher or lower than the lawn. A somewhat irregular line of grade will appear to be most natural, and lend itself best to effective planting. This is specially true in the grade to watercourses, which, as a rule, should be more or less devious or winding; and the adjacent land should, therefore, present various heights and contours. It is not always necessary, however, to make distinct banks along water-courses, particularly if the place is small and the natural lay of the land is more or less plane or flat. A very slight depression, as shown in Fig. 63, may answer all the purposes of a water grade in such places.
[Illustration: Fig. 62. A terrace or slope that falls too suddenly away from a building. There should be a level place or esplanade next the building, if possible.]
If it is desirable that the lawn be as large and spacious as possible, then the boundary of it should be removed. Take away the fences, curbing, and other right lines. In rural places, a sunken fence may sometimes be placed athwart the lawn at its farther edge for the purpose of keeping cattle off the place, and thereby bring in the adjacent landscape. Figure 64 suggests how this may be done. The depression near the foot of the lawn, which is really a ditch and scarcely visible from the upper part of the place because of the slight elevation on its inner rim, answers all the purposes of a fence.
Nearly all trees are injured if the dirt is filled about the base to the depth of a foot or more. The natural base of the plant should be exposed so far as possible, not only for protection of the tree, but because the base of a tree trunk is one of its most distinctive features. Oaks, maples, and in fact most trees will lose their bark near the crown if the dirt is piled against them; and this is especially true if the water tends to settle about the trunks. Figure 65 shows how this difficulty may be obviated. A well is stoned up, allowing a space of a foot or two on all sides, and tile drains are laid about the base of the well, as shown in the diagram at the right. A grating to cover a well is also shown. It is often possible to make a sloping bank just above the tree, and to allow the ground to fall away from the roots on the lower side, so that there is no well or hole; but this is practicable only when the land below, the tree is considerably lower than that above it.
If much of the surface is to be removed, the good top earth should be saved, and placed back on the area, in which to sow the grass seed and to make the plantings. This top soil may be piled at one side out of the way while the grading is proceeding.