What Fill Dirt Should I Use To Level My Yard?
Typical front and back yards have roughly six inches of topsoil, but there may be areas where this layer is far thinner. Although home builders and landscapers do their best to provide a level yard when a home is first built, low areas can appear over time, whether it is caused by the decay of old tree roots, underground items like sewer pipes shifting, or other causes.
An uneven yard can pose a host of problems for a property. In addition to making the yard more challenging to mow, dips and uneven spots also pose a tripping danger for children and elderly people navigating the yard. Thankfully, leveling an uneven yard is a fairly simple task, but it is imperative to begin with the right type of fill dirt.
The Best Fill Dirt For Leveling A Yard
Experts recommend topdressing the yard using friable soil, which is a mixture of top soil and sand. It is easiest to spread when applied dry and in smaller particles. However, it is important to first ensure it has the right pH level to suit the area where it will be placed.
Most plants prefer pH levels in the range of 6 to 7, which is slightly acidic to neutral. You can test the pH value of the soil using a simple pH testing kit and amend it with sulfur or lime as needed to ensure it reaches the right level. This is less of a concern, however, if you have no intention of planting anything in the area.
It is always important to look out for clean fill dirt, which means it is free of materials that can harm the environment, animals or humans. Clean fill dirt will be free from corrosive chemicals and highly acidic substances, which is important because soil that contains corrosives can destroy the metals in pipes. It is also free of noxious materials and combustible materials that can easily catch fire and potentially dangerous radioactive substances.
Clean fill dirt is essential for projects like landscaping, where a safe environment is vital. Whether you are leveling your yard or filling in holes, clean or certified fill is a good choice.
Some people choose to make their own topdressing to fill in dips and sunken areas in their yard. This involves mixing three parts of topsoil with three parts of sand and one part of compost with a garden rake in a wheelbarrow or other receptacle. The sand allows for good drainage, while compost gives the soil the nutrients it needs to promote grass growth.
Leveling Your Yard
Leveling your yard is simple once you have the right type of fill dirt. Spring is the best time of year for this type of project thanks to the mild conditions, as it will allow the lawn time to recover before summer heat sets in.
Simply use a shovel to fill in any areas that are lower than the rest of the yard, and then tamp it down using the back of the shovel. Next, spray the area with a gentle spray of water, then tamp it down once again. You will want to continue adding soil until the area stands an inch or two higher than the area surrounding it to allow some margin for settling.
After a few weeks, you will need to check the areas that you filled for settling, adding some soil mixture as needed using the same procedure as before to any spots that are not level.
For Small Sunken Areas Covered With Grass
If you are dealing with small areas in the yard that are sunken and covered with healthy grass, you can use a technique known as “sweeping the dirt under the carpet”. Simply cut through the turf around the edges of the area that is sunken with a sod cutter or flat shovel in clean, vertical cuts to prevent root damage.
Pull the patch of turf off gently and set it aside, and then spread the soil into the hole until it is level with the surrounding lawn. Be sure to water the soil lightly as you go to remove air s and avoid settling in the future. Then, press the patch of grass back into place using your foot or hand and water the grass.
How To Calculate The Amount Of Soil Needed To Level A Yard
You can use a simple formula to calculate the amount of soil you will need to level your yard. First, determine how many inches of soil will be needed to fill in the space as well as the size of the space.
Let’s say you need to fill a 10-foot by 15-foot space with three inches of soil. Begin by converting the inches of soil that you need into feet since the area you are filling is measured in feet: 3 inches of soil equals.25 feet.
Then, multiply the length of the area by the width of the area by the depth of the soil that you will need. In our example, this will be 10 x 15 x.25, which is 37.5 cubic feet.
However, most fill dirt is sold by the cubic yard, so you will need to convert this number into cubic yards by dividing the cubic feet by 27. In our example, 37.5 divided by 27 is 1.3889 cubic yards. Round this figure up to determine the amount of soil you will need. In this example, you will want to ask your supplier for 1.4 cubic yards of fill dirt.
If unevenness in the yard is appearing near water pipes and accompanied by drainage issues, it is best to consult a professional as a damaged pipe could be causing the problems. This will need to be addressed.
Reach Out To The Northern Virginia Fill Dirt Suppliers
Reach out to the fill dirt and soil suppliers at Dirt Connections to find out how we can support your next project. We offer free estimates and are happy to answer all your dirt-related questions.
Dirt Connections was started with one goal in mind: providing quality residential and commercial construction services to clients on time and on budget. Reach out for more information on how we can support your next project.For your convenience our estimates are free and by appointment. Call 703-940-9949 for a free estimate today!
How to Level a Yard in 8 Proven Steps – The Importance of Landscape Grading
If you are looking for information on how to level a yard, you probably know it is instrumental in keeping your landscape aesthetically pleasing. A level yard provides stability to your outdoor landscape. It also allows you to avoid serious damage and costly repairs to your foundation.
Your lawn must slope away from your home gradually to allow rainwater to drain away slowly from your foundation. If rainwater runs toward your home, the water will accumulate around the foundation walls. This will cause moisture to build up. Weakening your foundation. It may even become more serious. Seeping through foundation walls and filling your basement with water.
If your home does not have a basement or is built on a slab, moisture can seep into the wooden floor joists. The water will rot the joists. Threatening your home’s structural integrity.
The problems don’t end there though. Poor leveling will also damage your gardens, trees, and landscaping.
As well as potential standing water issues. A breeding ground for mosquitos. Which are not only pests but carry diseases.
Reasons for Yard Leveling
Even if you have leveled your yard in the past, landscape grading may be needed in cases where bumps and lums are created by:
- tree or brush removal
- sewer installation
- tree root growth
- damage from animals
- installation of new features (such as a pool)
- drainage issues
So over time, you will want to look for these signs that you need to level your yard.
How Do I Know if There is a Landscape Grading Problem?
The most simple way to look if you have yard leveling problems is to look for standing water. If you don’t have proper drainage, you know that you have a problem.
If you want to be more precise with your landscape grading, you can measure your yard’s slope. To do this you will need the following tools:
The ground around your home should slope away approximately 1/4-inch down for every foot away from your home. This comes to around 2 ft. per 100 ft. So at 100 feet from your house, the ground should be 2 ft. lower than at the base of your home.
To accurately measure the slope of your yard’s landscape grading grab a 3 ft. long wood stake. Drive it 1 ft. deep in the dirt at the bottom of your house. Then measure a 100 ft distance away from your house. At that spot drive a second 3 ft. long stake into the soil.
At ground level on the stake by the house attach a string. Run the string to the second stake. Attach it to the stake with the string level. Use a carpenter’s level to achieve this.
With the string attached to both stakes, measure the distance from the ground to the string on the far stake.
If you measure a drop from 3 inches to 2 feet, you may be able to do the leveling yourself. However, if the drop is greater than that, or it slopes upward, it is recommended that you hire a professional to grade the yard.
For very steep slopes you may consider planting ground covers or building terraces.
Yard Leveling Tools Equipment
If you decide to take on the task of landscape grading yourself, you will need:
- Lawn Mower
- Hand rake
- Thatch rake [or dethatching machine]
- Plastic leaf rake
- Large push broom
How to Level a Yard [8 Steps]
So you’re ready to take on landscape grading yourself. Use these 8 steps for how to level a yard to ensure great results.
STEP 1: Mow Your Lawn
Yard leveling starts with mowing your lawn. Make sure you cut it short. But be careful not to cut it too short. If you cut to the point that the stems of the blades of grass are visible, then your grass may dry out.
STEP 2: Dethatch Your Lawn [As Needed]
Begin preparing the lawn for landscaping grading by closely examining the roots of your grass. Assess your lawn’s amount of thatch.
The thatch is a mix of living and dead plant material in a layer where the grass stems meet the soil and roots.
A thatch greater than 1/4 to 1/2 inch will keep your grass from getting proper water and air.
If you have more than 1/2-inch remove the thatch.
For a smaller lawn, you can use a thatch rake. For larger lawns use a dethatching machine. Which you can rent at most home improvement stores.
STEP 3: Dig up the grass in the sunken area of the lawn
Check your yard for divots and low spots deeper than 2-3 inches.
Remove the grass from on top of them. To do this, put the blade of a shovel on the outer edge of a low spot. Slide it down and under about 2-3 inches to make sure you get under the roots of the grass. Then remove the sod by prying the grass up with the shovel. Exposing the dirt underneath.
STEP 4: Make Soil Mix: Topsoil, Sand and Compost
Make a top dressing mix to fill in the area beneath the grass in sunken areas of your lawn:
The soil and compost give your grass the nutrients it needs to thrive.
Sand on the other hand does not easily compact easily. Keeping your yard level over time.
STEP 5: Fill Sunken Areas and Holes with Soil Mixture
Fill the hole from step 3 with the mix from step 4. After filling the holes, be sure to place the grass back on top of it.
STEP 6: Even Out the Entire Lawn
Once you have filled the holes and divots, cover your entire lawn with about 1/4 to 1/2 inches of the mix.
Keep this layer thin. Err on the side of caution. Even if you think you need more than 1/2 inch. If you put too much down, you may choke your grass.
If you still think you need more, you can reapply in step 8.
STEP 7: Water the Lawn
Run sprinklers to water your lawn. This will help the soil mix settle in the grass to fill air s, and revitalize your lawn.
Jumpstarting the introduction of the new nutrients from soil mixture.
STEP 8: Reapply Soil Mix [As Needed]
You might have to do more than 1 layer of the soil mix to completely level your yard.
You should apply the 2nd layer by repeating steps 5 and 6 after you see the grass begin to grow, or when you can’t see the first soil mix layer anymore.
That’s it. You’re done! Now you know how to level a yard.
Things to Remember While Yard Leveling
For best results keep these tips in mind:
- The best time to level your yard is during the dry season. If done during a rainy season there is a good chance for soil erosion
- Proper backfill at the foundation is very important. If the soil is too close to the wall cladding then you risk termites getting into your house
- Any soil removed from the lawn can be reused while grading
Conclusions on Landscape Grading
Leveling your yard is very important to protect your home and landscape from long-term damages and expensive costs to fix.
If your landscape grading issues are minor you can follow the 8 steps above on how to level a yard yourself.
However, if you have major issues with your lawn’s slope, you should contact a professional. They’ll know how to level a yard with more extensive issues. It may be that your landscape grading needs commercial-grade equipment, and a professional eye to identify all problems.
If you’re in southeast Pennsylvania, Cider Mill Landscapes may be able to help you. Fill out the form below for a free consultation or call us at: (484) 574-4666.
How to Level a Yard: Simple and Easy Steps for a Beautiful Lawn
To level a yard, there are some considerations gardeners need to take into account. Leveling a backyard can be intimidating for some, especially when it is their first time leveling a yard.
A leveled backyard ground can make the outdoors more appealing. Learning how to level a yard comes in extremely handy when we strive to have an amazingly lush and healthy lawn.
How to Level a Yard
To level a yard can take several steps and some tools. The whole process can take some preparation time as well, such as having time for acquiring the tools and finding the time for the activity itself. The secret to quick and efficient yard leveling is to make sure everything you need is prepared beforehand.
Leveling a yard also has practical benefits, aside from being extremely pleasant to the eyes. Leveled yards help divert water away from the house and its foundations. This keeps the house and its foundations safe from any possible damage, especially when the foundations of the house are susceptible to water seepage.
Now that we’ve established how a leveled yard can help our houses look amazing and stay strong, let’s find out the steps in leveling a yard.
We’ve compiled all the tips and tricks you might need to ensure your yard leveling activities come out successful and beautiful.
– Prepare Your Tools and Kits
Yard leveling can sometimes require heavy-duty equipment. especially when the work is extensive. While some gardeners go for power tools, simple tools work perfectly fine as well. Here are some simple gardening tools you may need.
– Gardening Tiller
A garden tiller can break down the soil upon impact, loosening the earth into smaller pieces and providing aeration. Tilling also helps prevent the spread of weeds in the garden while allowing plants to develop better root systems.
– Landscaping Rake
A landscaping rake functions the same way that a gardening tiller does. The landscaping rake effectively breaks up the soil. and it also functions as a tool to clean up debris and spread mulch and compost.
A lawnmower is typically used to trim landscape grasses to the desired height.
Manual or otherwise, the lawnmower is a useful tool for many gardeners when it comes to leveling a yard.
– Flathead Shovel
A flathead shovel is a great tool for digging up the soil, as well as removing any plants from the earth. The flathead shovel is ideal for soft soils and mulch while making an excellent tool for filling up wheelbarrows, as well as removing any materials from the wheelbarrows.
– Lawn Roller
The lawn roller helps level out the soil due to its weighted roller function. The weight of the lawn roller ensures that the soil is easily compacted without any air s.
– Lawn Drag Levelers
A lawn drag leveler is a tool that easily flattens the soil for larger areas that need leveling. The lawn drag leveler can be made as a DIY tool or purchased from gardening supply stores.
The simple wheelbarrow can be used to pile on and transport a number of heavy garden materials. such as soil, rocks, compost, mulch, and even plants. The versatility of the wheelbarrow makes it an extremely useful gardening tool, regardless of the purpose.
The stake is normally used to hold and support plants from strong winds. In this case, stakes are used to delineate the area of the lawn you wish to level. You can use three stakes or more, depending on the shape of the area of your lawn that is uneven.
– Ball of String
The ball of string will be tied around the stakes, creating the demarcation of the area you want to level off. The string will help you visually determine the size of the area. so if you expect a large area, it is advisable to get a bigger ball of string for a longer perimeter.
– Play Sand
Play sand can act as a filler for sunken areas that are small and not too deep.
Compost will help enrich the soil. plus it provides bulk and aeration to the soil.
– Topsoil or Mulch
The topsoil or the mulch will serve as your final layer to your leveled yard.
Water may be needed where necessary to moisten the ground for leveling purposes.
– Decide Where and How Much You Need to Level
You can visually assess the areas of your yard that need to be leveled. You can start off by trimming the general area that you suspect is bumpy or need leveling. Trimming the grass around the area will help you determine whether the leveling is minor or entails a larger area.
Once the lawn has been trimmed, walk on the trimmed area and its edges to get a feel of any bumps, hollows, or grooves. You can mark these areas mentally, or you can use any identifying marker to indicate the uneven patches. such as using stakes and string to cordon the areas.
– Start Leveling Your Soil According To Their Severity
Leveling the soil can be determined by how deep the sunken area is. There are 3 basic techniques to level the soil depending on the severity and extent of the depression.
Applying Topsoil as Dressing for Areas That Are Relatively Shallow
If the area is relatively shallow, around half an inch deep, then it should be fairly easy to level the soil. Adding soil to the top of the turf is often commonly known as topdressing. Topdressing typically requires an ideal mixture of 40 percent soil, 40 percent sand, and 20 percent compost.
Play sand is the most ideal type of sand to add to this mixture, as it can be found in many commercial gardening centers. As a mixture, the soil and compost provide nutrients while the sand provides good drainage. Additionally, you can make a rough estimate of how much of this mixture you will need based on the size and depth of the sunken area,
The components of the mixture must be fully blended with each other prior to use. Once ready, slowly pour in approximately half an inch of your topsoil mix onto the sunken areas. Take caution to avoid pouring more than half an inch. as doing so will suffocate the grass.
– Helping the Topsoil
Carefully rake the top dressing over the area to ensure an even spread. Brush the grass turf in a back and forth motion while lifting up the grass blades. Doing so will help the topsoil slowly get between the grass and underneath the grass turf.
Lightly add water to the area if needed and only enough to moisten the soil. Overwatering can wash away the leveling mix.
Monitor the area to check for progress. Eventually, you will notice the grass grow back and the area level off. If the area is still uneven, you may need to repeat the process until the whole area is leveled to your standards.
Adding Soil Under the Grass Turf For Areas that are Slightly Deep
For areas that are small yet slightly more sunken to around an inch, adding soil under the turf can easily level off the area of the yard. This technique is highly suitable when your grass is in a healthy state and can be easily manipulated without harming the whole turf.
Mark the area that you are planning to level by raising the soil or removing parts of the uneven earth. You can do so by using the stakes planted into each corner of the area to outline the perimeter. You can further delineate the area by tying the string from one stake to another.
Use a flathead shovel to cut through the turf along the edge of the sunken area. Clean vertical cuts ensure minimal root damage to the turf while delineating a more precise area to work on.
– After Removing the Grass Turf
Carefully remove the grass turf and ensure that the roots are not damaged in the process. Set the grass turf aside in an area where it can rest and remain undisturbed while you work on leveling the soil.
Spread a layer of potting soil into the sunken area. As you slowly work the area, sprinkle some water on the soil to remove any possible air s. Once you have ensured that the area is balanced and level with the rest of the yard, pat the soil firmly in place to prevent the soil from settling in the future.
Carefully return the patch of grass turf to the soil. Press on the patch of grass turf into place using your hands or feet. This area of grass may need more water than usual since the turf has encountered minor trauma from the activity. Water the grass, and monitor its progress.
– Fill the Spot Completely for Areas that Are Deeply Sunken or Uneven
When the area you wish to level is deeper than an inch, it may be time to just start over. The other 2 techniques cannot be employed for deeper areas, as doing so will take up much more effort than just starting over. This also means that you will end up trying to keep the grass alive rather than getting new grass to grow.
Identify the area that you need to level. This can be easily done by using the stakes to demarcate the edges of the area. To further designate the work area visually, tie the string to form a line from one stake to another.
Once you have made the area more visually identifiable, you can now begin to estimate how much materials you may need. You can use an estimated amount. although it is always more prudent to overprepare more than what is needed. You can now begin to fill the uneven spot.
Start this process by adding potting soil to the sunken areas by layers. With each layer, slowly sprinkle some water. This ensures that the soil has lesser chances of forming air s when it settles. At this point, you can use a lawn roller to make sure the soil is more compact.
7 Mistakes beginners make when LEVELING their LAWN
– Making Sure the Soil is Compact
If the area has raised bumps, you can redistribute the soil to other sunken areas. A tiller is most useful during this stage as it helps loosen the soil. You can till the earth to around 2 inches to keep the topsoil loose. This lessens any future drainage issues between the soils.
Walk on the soil as well to make sure that it gets compacted. However, the topsoil should not be too compacted. Keep one to three inches of topsoil firm but not compacted as this will be the layer upon which the grass turf will grow.
At this stage, you can begin to flatten the ground using a lawn drag leveler. Some gardeners prefer to make their own, while most gardeners prefer to use commercial ones. Lawn drag levelers are leveling tools that easily flatten the soil of a large area.
You can add the turf or seed to this area to grow the grass. You can purchase new grass turf to fit the area and position it according to the shape of the area. Water the area to make sure that the turf and the soil underneath it are moist.
For grass seeds, apply them according to the package instruction. Water and care for the area as directed by the manufacturer.
– Level a Sloping Area
Some states require approval for lawn leveling activities. so you may need to get a permit from your local government unit prior to leveling a sloped lawn. Contact your local council, as well as your local utility companies, prior to any digging activities. Doing so can save not only your time but lessen the risks of hitting underground pipes or wires as well.
Once you have cleared everything with your local council and the utility companies, remove or transplant all the vegetation in the sloped area. This ensures you can view the entire area clearly and without obstruction.
Ensure that the lawn itself does not encourage water to flow towards your house. This is called grading. Visually determine any low areas, and correct these by placing sand on these areas to encourage water to flow away from your house.
Measure and mark the rise and run of your targeted area. You can use your stakes and string for this activity. Drive a stake at the highest part of the slope, and drive another stake at the lowest part of the slope.
You can tie a string at the bottom of the stake on the highest elevation and connect it to the stake at the lowest point of the elevation, here make sure the string is level.
– Run and Rise
Run refers to the length of the string, whereas rise refers to the distance between the ground from the string on the stake at the lower point of the elevation.
Determine the number of terraces you need to build. Ideally, a run of five feet with a rise of two feet is normally recommended for structural integrity. Once you have determined the number of terraces, you will need to wet the ground to begin your leveling and terrace-building.
For a strong terrace, you can build retaining walls made of blocks, bricks, and boulders. Avoid using wood as it can decay and deteriorate. Once you have your retaining wall ready, fill the void with sand, and keep the ground even. Add some topsoil, and use a lawn roller to keep the whole area compact.
Once your terrace area is ready, add your grass turf or seed the area with grass. Water deeply, and check for the grass development from time to time.
– Post-Care for the Leveled Area
So you finally finished leveling your yard. Now, it’s time to check if your work went well. We’ve listed below some post-leveling activities that you can do to make sure your hard work ends up successful.
– Water Your Grass Well and Deeply
As you placed new grass in your newly leveled area, you’ll need to make sure that the new grass adjusts well. The newly added grass turf should be watered deeply for 1 to 1.5 inches weekly during the warmer months of summer. Watering deeply encourages the grass to grow deeper roots that are healthy and strong.
The most ideal time to water your lawn during the warmer months is either early in the morning or in the evening. These two timeframes provide the least risks of having the water evaporate from the heat.
Sprinklers are the easiest method of ensuring that a broad area gets watered. You can set your sprinklers on timers or manually turn them on, depending on the kind of lawn sprinkler system you own. Set the timer for an appropriate time that you can be sure that your lawn is deeply watered.
– Trim Your Grass, But Not Too Short
Keeping your grass around three to four inches tall helps prevent the growth of weeds as well as provides a soft cushion for the feet.
This grass height can also shield the ground from any intense heat and preserve the cool temperature of the soil so that the roots of the grass remain unburnt. One more benefit to having this grass height is that water evaporation is lessened.
Adjust your lawnmower to a higher setting so that you can avoid accidentally cutting your grass too short. If you find four inches too long, you can easily go over the area again to keep the height at three inches.
You can also allow your clippings to fall back into the grass. The clippings eventually decay and provide nutrients to the soil. encouraging your grass to grow better.
– Fertilize Your Grass Wisely
Finding a great fertilizer for your lawn can be extremely rewarding. You will find that the right fertilizer at the right dosage can provide you with a lush verdant lawn. Care should be taken to ensure that the fertilizer is given once or twice a year, or according to the instructions.
Too much fertilizer can encourage grass turf overgrowth, and can also cause chemical burns on your grass blades. One of the most convenient ways to apply fertilizer is to use a fertilizer spreader. This ensures a more even coverage, although you have to make sure all of your lawn has been fertilized for a balanced spread.
– Aerate Your Grass Regularly
We will only discuss lawn aeration briefly as the activity requires a separate guide. Healthy grass turf is a result of regular aeration. which provides the roots with a better environment to develop stronger. Ideally, aeration activities should be done around once a year, during the spring or the fall season.
Normally, aeration activities are done by professionals. although some experienced gardeners have been successful doing it on their own. Better circulation of air, water, and nutrients for the grass is the main objective of lawn aerations.
Can you level a yard without digging?
Yes, you can level a yard without digging by using techniques like topdressing or filling low spots with soil.
Do you water after leveling a yard?
It is recommended to water the yard after leveling to help settle the soil and aid in grass seed germination.
Is Leveling a Yard Necessary?
Yes, it is. Some experienced gardeners can easily level a large yard, raise yard level, or even flatten a bumpy yard.
Level ground in backyard areas can be the ideal setting for outdoor picnics and activities.
Leveling a sloped yard can also provide better garden conditions for plants, which is why some gardeners even prefer to level a yard by hand. This is so that they can get a better feel of how their yards will eventually look.
Providing endless hours of entertainment, relaxation, and pride, a well-groomed leveled backyard is a constant source of happiness for gardeners and their loved ones
Now that we’ve identified the tools and steps necessary in how to level a yard, let’s review what we’ve learned.
- To level a yard, you’ll need to have the right tools or pieces of equipment.
- The severity of your uneven lawn can call for different solutions.
- Some shallow sunken areas can be easily leveled without major work.
- Areas with deeper irregularities can require more tools, equipment, and work.
- After you have leveled your lawn, it is best to keep it watered, fertilized, and trimmed regularly.
A beautiful lawn is one of the most precious things house owners can have. When cared for regularly, a gorgeous lawn provides endless hours of fun, frolic, and respite from the busy world, and to be perfectly honest, what more can we really ask for?
How to level a yard – fix a bumpy lawn or sloped garden yourself
Landscaping your plot? Find out how to level a yard and lawn – by hand or not – to make more of your space.
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Learning how to level a yard is a vital backyard maintenance step whether you’re landscaping the entire space, preparing to lay a patio or deck, or rescuing a bumpy lawn.
Bumpy lawns can be unsightly and make it tricky to mow your lawn, are a trip hazard and can ruin the aesthetics of your garden. A level lawn is also a really important factor for drainage; holes and low areas can collect water which may cause lawn disease.
So, before you investigate garden landscaping ideas, follow this step-by-step guide to leveling your bumpy lawn.
How to level a yard: what to consider
The best way to level a garden depends on the garden’s design, and how uneven or sloping the space is. You may just want to get rid of lumps and bumps in the lawn so it looks its best, is suitable for sitting or lying out on and so kids can play on it. A flat lawn is easy to mow, and rain will be absorbed evenly, making the grass healthier.
Alternatively, you may want to construct a patio or deck. If that’s the case, you’ll need to start from a level surface to build your new garden feature.
Of course, your garden may be a sloping one, leaving you with space you can’t easily use. If that’s the case leveling is imperative if you’re to create space for all sorts of garden activities, and to make tending the plot much more straightforward.
If you don’t want to do the job yourself, you can outsource it, but find out what the cost to level a yard is first.
How to level a lawn
Topdressing is the easiest and least onerous approach to leveling out lawns with uneven areas, using a thin layer of leveling mix (made up of soil, compost, and sand). You will need:
Mow the lawn
Mow the lawn at the lowest setting with the best lawn mower – remove the majority of excess grass.
Dethatch your lawn with a garden rake or dethatcher. Thatch is a mix of dead and living plant material that forms a layer at the base of grass, the cross-section where it meets the soil. A thin layer can be beneficial to lawn health but too much (often caused by poor soil aeration and drainage) can cause root problems and difficulty mowing. Dethatching can help restore lawn health.
Check your thatch before dethatching by digging up a small wedge of grass and soil with a trowel, anything over a couple of inches needs thatching. Thoroughly rake the grass to remove thatch then clear all debris.
Make a leveling mix
In an old bucket or wheelbarrow, mix up some leveling mix, you can buy this premixed or mix it yourself using 40% fine sand, 40% topsoil, and 20% compost. The sand provides good drainage, and the compost adds nutrients to the soil to promote grass growth.
Apply mixture with a shovel
Apply the mixture on top of the low areas with a shovel taking care not to add more than half an inch because anymore can smother the grass. Rake to spread the mixture out evenly.
Brush the grass with a broom
Brush the grass back and forth with a broom; this works in the leveling mix down whilst at the same time, lifting the grass blades up to make sure the grass isn’t covered with soil. Water the area lightly, taking care not to overwater as this can wash away the leveling mix. Monitor progress (giving the grass a chance to recover). Repeat if needed
Top tip: You can level out any small bumps (less than 1 inch) by stepping on them; it’s best to do this in Spring when the grass is soft.
Level out larger areas
To level out larger sunken areas (more than half an inch) you will need a different approach. Mow the lawn and dethatch as outlined above. For any larger patches, you can remove the turf patch by cutting along the sunken area with a flat spade or lawn edger, taking care to protect the roots. Spread a layer of topsoil into the hole, watering slightly as you build it up to the lawn level and then replace the turf patch, pressing the grass back into place with your hand or foot.
Level out bumps and lumps
For lumps, you’ll need to carefully lift the turf, then remove the soil below until the area is level with the rest of the lawn. Lay the turf back down and compact it afterward.
Reseed if necessary
For anything bigger than two inches deep you should start again rather than try to salvage the grass. Fill the plot with a good soil mix and lay new grass seed. Leave for two days, then add grass seed and a light layer of topsoil. Water as required.
Add terraces to a sloped garden
The best way to level a sloping garden is to construct terraces within the garden to create level areas. For gentle slopes, timber retainers can be used to form small, stair-like terraces. In this case, moving the soil around the garden is feasible, and it can be a DIY job.
Add retaining walls to steep slopes
For steeper slopes, retaining walls will be required to keep the soil in place, and the soil should then be piled up behind them. Retaining walls can be attractive features and may be formed with materials such as bricks, stone, sleepers, gabions – wire enclosures filled with stones – and special concrete blocks.
We’d recommend calling in a professional landscaper to do this job as the retaining walls must be strong; you may even require a structural engineer in addition to specifying the design of the wall. If walls are not correctly constructed for your particular plot, they can collapse with damaging and expensive results.
How to regrade a yard
If you’re thinking of installing a swimming pool, you’ll need to regrade your yard first. Before grabbing a shovel, you want to find and mark the location of any underground utility lines. You may think you’re only removing the top layer of grass, but it’s better to be safe before unearthing a power or gas line.
You should also check with your local municipality to see if you need any permits for this job. Blythe Yost, landscape architect and CEO of Tilly, an online landscape design company, says that ‘most municipalities have a soil movement permit requirement,’ depending on the extent of the job. For example, if you’re changing the grade enough to require a retaining wall, you probably need a permit.
What’s the best way to level an uneven yard yourself?
Leveling a bumpy lawn can be tackled at home, the best tip is to do this in spring when the ground is soft. Start with small lumps (less than one inch), using your foot to press them down then fill any small animal holes with garden soil, compressing with your foot and watering; in time the grass should grow back over them. For larger lumps mow your lawn and rake it to remove thatch, mix a topdressing with some sand and garden soil (at a ratio of 40% sand to 60% soil) and fill any lumps, raking even, brushing with a household broom to work it into the soil and watering to finish.
How can I level my yard cheaply?
You can level your yard yourself on a budget, for next to nothing, using a rake, play sand and some soil from your yard. Firstly, level any small bumps (under one inch) with your feet, making sure the ground is moist when you step on them. Any animal holes can be leveled by filling the soil back in with soil from your yard and then topping up with topsoil; if they’re small the existing grass should grow over them, for any larger holes you can sprinkle some grass seed if you have it and water.
How to Grade your Property
For mildly uneven areas that require more work, topdressing is easiest. Once you’ve mowed the lawn, mix together some fine sand with some compost from your yard (at a ratio of 40% sand, 60% soil) and apply it to the low areas evenly. Rake even if you have one and run a household broom over it to work it into the grass, water and monitor progress. Repeat if needed.