How To Level Out An Uneven Lawn - Backyard Boss
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How To Level Out An Uneven Lawn

The lawn is often the center for outdoor activities. It’s a great place for any activity that requires a big, open area. Besides, having an immaculate lawn is as good a reason to have a picnic.

For these reasons, it’s a good idea to have a level lawn. Nobody wants to twist an ankle while running around and playing on the lawn, and too many low spots could turn it into a quagmire when it rains.

So if you have an uneven lawn and want to make it perfectly level, you’re in the right place. It’s time to discover how to level out an uneven lawn.

Materials Needed

  • Leveling mix (sand/topsoil mix or straight sand)
  • Hand rake
  • Landscape rake
  • Plastic leaf rake
  • Large push broom
  • Shovel
  • Edger
  • Wheelbarrow

Why Is Your Lawn Uneven?

Orange lawnmower on uneven terrain
Image credits: Ivan Radic via Creative Commons

Before we get into the step-by-step tutorial, we need to rewind. It’s important to consider the cause before we treat the symptom. Take a good look around your lawn and try to determine what it is that’s making it bumpy.

It might be something obvious, like a large tree with an aggressive root system that’s messing it up. Or it might be something a little less obvious, like a leak in a water supply or drainage line.

If you have a series of low spots that seem to appear out of nowhere, there’s a good chance you have a water leak. It’s crucial to address the root cause of the uneven lawn before you start treating the symptoms.

Once you’ve determined and addressed the cause, you can move on to the steps below.

Leveling Out Small Bumps – Top Dressing Method

Leveling out small bumps and dips in your lawn need not be a huge lesson in excavator use. Some well-placed sand should do the trick in a few hours.

Step One: Mow The Lawn

Red lawn mower mowing the grass
Image credits: Alexas_Fotos via Pixabay

Mowing your lawn at the lowest available setting is important for seeing where the irregularities are. Mow the lawn and mark out the bumps and dips that need your attention.

Step Two: Rake The Lawn

Rake leaning on a wheelbarrow under a tree
Image credits: neelam279 via Pixabay

Rake up all that cut grass and get it out of the area you plan to work on. To cut this step out, use the grass-clipping collection bag on your lawn mower.

Pro Tip: Don’t throw those grass clippings away. Use them as mulch in your garden, or add them to your compost heap for a boost of greens.

Step Three: Apply Leveling Mix

Sand falling from a shovel
Image credits: congerdesign via Pixabay

Mix up a wheelbarrow of leveling mix. Straight sand is the best for leveling low spots. However, grass will take longer to recover from under straight sand. For this reason, it’s a good idea to add some compost or topsoil to your leveling mix. You may as well take this opportunity to use the top dressing to improve the soil on your lawn.

Step Four: Rake The Mix

Rake in the soil
Image credits: terimakasih0 via Pixabay

Rake the leveling mix to spread it out evenly. Only apply small amounts at a time. Any more than ½ an inch, and you risk smothering the grass in the area.

Step Five: Level

Level spirit level
Image credits: Eran Menashri via Unsplash

Use the leveling rake to work the mix into the grass as much as possible. You’re done when there is mostly grass visible in the area.

Step Six: Water

Galvanised steel watering can
Image credits: David Ballew
via Unsplash

Water the area to further level and stabilize the lawn. Monitor the space for the next week or two. If the low spot is still there after the grass has recovered, repeat steps one through six until level.

Leveling Out Larger Bumps – Sod Cut Method

If you’re dealing with larger bumps and dips in your lawn, topdressing with a leveling mix will take decades to even out your lawn. With a bit more work, you can level out a larger lawn much more quickly.

Step One: Cut The Sod

Person removing sod
Image credits: brianteutsch
via Creative Commons

First up, you need to remove the sod. Sod is referring to the layer of grass, and its roots, that make up your lawn.

Cut out workable strips and gently remove the grass and roots from the soil below. Roll them up to keep them moist and store them in the shade.

Step Two: Add Topsoil

Hand moving soil into a yellow bucket
Image credits: Markus Spiske via Unsplash

You can skip the sand in your leveling mix and go straight for topsoil. Add enough topsoil to the hole to uneven out the irregularities. Remember to water the topsoil, bit by bit, as you go along. This will help level the soil and remove any air pockets.

Remember to account for the few extra inches that the sod will add. You’re not trying to turn your dip into a bump.

Step Three: Replace The Sod

Rolls of turf
Image credits: ddgarton via Pixabay

Once you’re satisfied, it’s time to replace the sod. If the sod you removed is still in good shape, you can return it to the area. If not, you can buy new sod or seed your lawn instead.

Step Four: Water

Hand using a garden hose
Image credits: planet_fox via Pixabay

Continue to water the area until the grass has re-established itself.

Leveling An Unworkable Lawn – Hiring The Pros Method

Lawn being excavated
Image credits: Derks24 via Pixabay via Pixabay

If your lawn is severely uneven, and the methods above aren’t going to cut it, you will have to bring heavy machinery in. It involves re-grading the entirety of the affected area.

While it is possible to do this yourself, it’s not recommended. You will have to be trained in how to use heavy machinery, hire (or buy) it, and follow a whole host of trade secrets to get it right.

If your lawn is so bad that it requires re-grading, I recommend hiring a professional landscaping crew to come in and do the job right the first time.

Final Say

By following the steps above, you’ll be able to easily level out moderate irregularities in your lawn. When using the top dressing method, it’s important to not spread too much leveling mix on your lawn at one time, otherwise, you risk smothering the grass.

The sod cutting method is quite a bit more involved, but you can level a larger area more accurately. Over and above that, it’s recommended to get the pros in to help you level a severely irregular lawn.

The most important point of all, though, is to find the root cause of the uneven lawn and address that before you start any leveling work.