Learn how to design grading for a site to prevent erosion, move or infiltrate stormwater, and/or create a resilient building site.

DATES: Sundays, March 14, 21, 28 and April 11 and 18   3:00 – 5:00 pm EST
Registration fee: $350, Conway alums $300
Registration is OPEN and closes March 12
Instructor: Kim Erslev teaches landscape design, site engineering, and graphics at the Conway School
Max Number of Participants: 20 (if more than 20 people registered, another session may be added at the instructor’s discretion)
LA CES credits applied for: 10

Professional completion certificates will be provided for all who attend the Site Grading courses.

Understanding the fundamentals of site grading provides the framework for all landscape design and building projects. It is also a critical skill to address problem drainage issues, flooding, and erosion on existing sites.

In this course you will learn how to create a grading plan for a site to prevent erosion, move or infiltrate stormwater, and create resilient outdoor gathering areas and building projects. Participants will learn how to grade planes, driveways, roads, building sites, and accessible paths. You will also learn common slope requirements and basic math formulas to refine your grading plans. Participants should be familiar with plan and section drawing, topographic representation on site plans, and how to use an engineer’s scale.

Participants will receive grading exercises via email and will need to print them out for class on 8 ½ x 11” paper. Participants will need an engineer’s scale, pencil, eraser, red pen, calculator, and a digital camera (can be a phone) or printer scanner. A flexible curve and rolling ruler are optional.

FORMAT: All classes start with an introduction and 30 to 45 minutes of short narrated videos demonstrating the basic concepts of site grading. Participants will then discuss the videos and the teacher will answer questions. After a break, all participants will do in-class exercises on their own and come back together at the end to discuss their results. The teacher will be available during the individual work time to answer any further questions or demonstrate solutions. There will be practice sheets for homework each week between classes. Participants will scan or take clear digital photos of finished exercises and send them via email to the instructor.

This class is self-paced, allowing students to move faster or slower as needed, however, the lecture portions will be presented as scheduled over the five-week period. Learning sessions build on each other, so participants should plan to attend all five sessions live. Lectures will be recorded and links to grading demonstration videos will be provided to participants prior to, during, and for a short time after the course is finished. Reimbursements will not be provided for missed class sessions.

INTENDED AUDIENCE: This course is for design professionals with minimal grading experience, those who want to strengthen their grading skills, as well as landscape design and architecture students preparing for the site design portion of the licensing exam and other design professionals who want to address problem drainage areas by moving or holding water.


Kim Erslev is both a practicing architect and a landscape architect with her own firm, Salmon Falls Ecological Design, based in Shelburne Falls. She joined the graduate school faculty in 2006, and has more than twenty years of experience with sustainable landscape and architectural design.

Kim’s professional work is dedicated to creating designs that connect humans with the inherent power and beauty of natural systems. She has worked with several design firms on a diversity of projects including: the design of the Micmac Heritage Center in Northern Canada, the Jerusalem Science Museum, the Eric Carle Museum, and the design of a new town destroyed by a volcanic mudslide in Colombia, South America. Her current design practice focuses on the design of super-insulated passive solar homes, ecological landscapes, and co-housing communities.

Kim is an accomplished designer with strong skills in conceptualization, drawing, and design communication. She is an enthusiastic teacher who encourages students to work and learn cooperatively.

  • MLA, University of Massachusetts (1996)
  • MArch, University of Pennsylvania (1987)
  • BA, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT (1979)