Do you have an uneven lawn or your lawn isn’t as flat as it used to be? An uneven, bumpy lawn isn’t just an eyesore but also takes away from the overall curb appeal of your home.
And in worse cases can be a major safety hazard with plenty of opportunities to cause trips and falls. Read on to find out the causes of an uneven lawn, how to level a yard, and troubleshoot the underlying problem to prevent a bumpy lawn in the future.
The Importance of Yard Leveling
There are myriad different reasons for yard leveling, starting with:
One of the biggest reasons to level your yard is to prevent damage to your home. Lawns must be on a slope to prevent rainwater from accumulating near the foundation of your home.
Adding to this, rainwater can leak into your home, resulting in bigger problems such as excess moisture that can cause the rotting of wooden floor joists. Standing water can also cause:
- Dead grass
- Perpetual mud
- Excessive mosquitos
- Mold growth
Uneven and bumpy lawns create drainage issues when the low spots fill with water runoff and rainwater, which can lead to lawn disease and a breeding ground for pests.
Running your mower over bumps and holes in your lawn is not only a daunting task but can also damage your mower. Plus, the hills made around the exit holes by burrowing gophers and moles can pose obstacles for your mower.
Installing New Features
You can install features such as a pool on an uneven lawn. To install a pool on a bumpy lawn, you will have to level out the high and low spots of your property to create a flat surface that provides a stable base for installation.
Yard Leveling Tools & Equipment
There are a few tools you will need to level a partial or entire lawn. These include:
- Soil leveling rake – A soil leveling rake is one of the simplest tools you can use for lawn leveling an uneven yard. It’s easy to use with your foot to distribute the soil evenly and remove any rocks and debris that may be present.
- Shovel – a shovel can help you dig out any areas that are lower or higher areas than the surrounding areas so that they can be at the same level.
- Wheelbarrow – you can use the wheelbarrow to transport materials such as a soil mix from work vans to uneven areas in your entire yard.
- Top-Dressing Mix – You can fill all the holes and undulations with a top-dressing mix or soil mixture. Adding top-dressing mix regularly also prevents thatch buildup.
How to Level a Yard [5 Steps]
There are a few things you should do before leveling a yard. Start with noting down the areas where water pipes and gas lines are running through your lawn.
The last thing you want to do is dig in the wrong spot and damage these fixtures, which can be a big hazard as well as cause costly damage.
Next is to cut your lawn short but not too short to make it easier to achieve a level yard. While you’re at it, remove any weeds, or lawn pests and dethatch your lawn with a thatch rake. Make sure you remove all the thatch because you will then have a better idea of the severity of dips in your yard.
- Prepare the soil mix – after you’ve prepped your lawn, the first step to leveling a yard is creating a soil mix, which consists of sand, topsoil, and compost. Put on a pair of gloves, and mix 2 parts topsoil, 2 parts sand, and 1 part compost. This mix offers twofold benefits – fills sunken areas of uneven lawns and encourages healthy grass growth.
- Start digging – now you will have to break a sweat and start digging up the grass from the holes so you can fill them with topsoil and reseed them later. For bumps, even them out with a rake or hoe. Avoid digging too deeply when taking down the lawn bumps.
- Fill the sunken areas and holes with the soil mix – fill the holes with the soil mix and overseed or lay sod over them.
- Lay down new soil – after you’ve filled all the holes, spread a ¼” layer of soil over the problem areas. Repeat this step until the problem areas are level but do not cover the surrounding grass.
- Water your lawn – water your lawn to help the soil mix settle and fill any remaining air pockets in the soil.
Here’s a video on how to level your lawn the easy way:
Depending on the cause of the bump, you may want to follow specifics steps as below:
- How To Level Tree Root Lawn Bumps
- How To Level Bumps And Depressions Caused By Digging And Burrowing Animals
- How To Level Depressions Caused By Heavy Traffic And Dog Urine
Things to Remember While Yard Leveling
Keep in mind a few things when leveling a lawn.
- Avoid leveling your lawn during the rainy season because it can cause soil erosion.
- If you remove any soil from the lawn, you can use it for grading so don’t dispose of it.
- Sand is by far easiest to spread (whether wet or dry) than topdressing mixes. But topdressing provides essential nutrients for your soil.
When to Grade a Yard
Grading is the process of correcting the slope of your yard so that rainwater and other precipitation flow away from the foundation of your home, and not into your home.
There are several warning signs that your yard needs re-graded including:
- pooling water,
- when the lawnmower cuts the top of the sod,
- or you consistently fall into holes.
However, there are several other issues that are less obvious such as dead patches in the lawn, nuisance weeds spreading throughout the yard, and weeds causing unsightly clumps in the lawn.
Benefits of Yard Grading
There are a plethora of benefits of yard grading such as reduced erosion, surface runoff, and reduced damage to your home. Other key benefits of lawn grading include:
Simpler Landscape Construction
One of the major benefits of yard grading for homeowners is it makes the landscape easier to install more features. For example, if you want a pool in your backyard, but the landscape is uneven, yard grading is required for proper installation.
Preventing Water Drainage Damage
Landscape grading greatly improves water drainage and prevents damage to your home from water pooling.
If your yard isn’t graded, rainwater can flow towards your home rather than away, and accumulate around its foundation, which can lead to cracks, leaks in your home, and in worse-case scenarios flooding.
Use Your Entire Yard
Sloped yards can make parts of your property virtually unusable. For example, if the backyard of your home opens up to a steep slope, it can’t support features such as a pool or patio. By re-grading the land, you can enjoy features such as a fire pit and/or an outdoor kitchen.
Q. How Much Does It Cost to Level a Yard?
A. The cost of leveling your yard depends on several factors such as if you’re going to take on the task yourself or commission a professional landscaper.
The cost typically ranges between $700 to $3000 for a residential yard leveling project, which includes a patio, fence, or swimming pool installation.
The national average cost of leveling a yard is based on 1,200 square feet and the pricing varies depending on the steepness of the slope, size of the property, dirt removal, and scope of the grading project.
Prepare to pay on the higher end if your property is located on a steep slope, the soil is hard to work with, or you have any old structures that have to be demolished before grading.
Q. How Hard Is It to Level a Yard?
A. Leveling a yard is not a challenging task but many homeowners assume it is, therefore end up calling professional landscapers to level the whole yard.
However, if you have excess thatch, a potential safety hazard, and several sunken patches, calling a lawn care company to fix the issues is a good idea since they work with high-end equipment such as a dethatching machine to get the job done right.
Most yards however can be leveled with simple tools like a lawn roller, rake, and shovel.
Q. How Long Does It Take to Level a Yard?
A. The answer depends on the size of the area you’re leveling and the work involved. But it’s not a job that can be completed in a few hours and takes anywhere between 48 hours to several days.
Remember, after leveling the yard, you’ve got to spread topsoil, which needs time to settle after watering it in.
Q. What Kind of Dirt Do You Use for Grading?
A. The best kind of dirt for grading is dense soil like clay. Dense soil is easier to tamp down and prevent erosion over time.
You can add topsoil for the first few inches, which is more fertile and encourages healthier grass roots and grass growth.
Q. How Far Should Dirt Be From the Foundation?
A. You can add dirt next to the foundation of your home, but make sure at least four inches of your foundation shows above the soil.
Grading and leveling your yard should be an important part of your landscaping efforts and should be done regularly when needed.
Before leveling the yard, check for any power or gas lines that may be woven through your yard, after which prepare a nutrient-rich soil mixture.
You should grade the yard if your property is located on a slope so that you can enjoy more features such as an outdoor patio and/or pool.
If you aren’t sure how to level a yard to smoothen dips and/or grade a yard, I recommend calling a professional landscaper in your area.
Hi, Alex Kuritz here. Growing up I remember that my family had one of the best lawns in the neighborhood. Richly green and lush. I did a lot as I grew up in terms of caring and tending for not only my family’s lawn but also my neighbors. I can say I have years of experience, and I am here to share it with you.