What Lawn Roller Alternatives Can I Use? Homemade to 55 Gallon Drums

Why would you need a lawn roller? Keeping your turf level and smooth gives you the advantage of easy mowing, watering control, and a beautiful look. But do you have to invest in one of these tools or are there any other options?

Quick Answer

If you’re wondering what lawn mower alternatives you can use, the good news is there are several choices I’ve tried and tested, most notably:

  • Drum lawn roller
  • Cardboard drum
  • Old water heater

The following guide will help you setup and use these alternatives the right way.

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Is a lawn roller necessary?

It is spring, and I imagine the soil in your yard is lumpy because of the frost that occurred in the previous months. This is why you think a lawn roller is necessary.

Well, unless you’re maintaining a golf course, I wouldn’t recommend a lawn roller. It just isn’t necessary. But why do lawn care experts discourage using such heavy machinery to level up the lawn? However, some experts say a lawn roller can help germination rates.

A lawn roller interferes with the air and water percentages of your soil. Healthy soil contains about 25% air and another 25% water. These compositions are loosely held to form the perfect soil aggregation for the healthy development of roots.

Best Lawn Roller Alternatives

In short, here’s why a lawn roller may not be necessary for your lawn:

  • Using heavy rollers on the ground leads to soil compaction.
  • Compacted soil causes slow root development and slower turfgrass growth.

Homemade lawn roller alternatives

Since you might not need to buy any top-rated lawn roller to get the job done, you can make a low-budget roller to flatten those areas in your yard that have been affected by frost heave damage.

Here are 3 DIY alternatives you can try:

55-gallon drum lawn roller

A 55-gallon drum is probably heavy, weighing over 700 lbs. However, it can make a good lawn roller alternative if you manipulate the weight by reducing or increasing the amount of water in it.

I would recommend keeping it a little heavy if you’re trying to level up a mini golf course lawn.

You can use such a roller on your lawn just before seeding or even after, but make sure you’re ready to aerate your lawn to ensure grass grows in a healthy way soon after germination.

Cardboard drum

Most would argue a cardboard drum is better than options like grease drums. The reason for this is that a cardboard drum does not have ridges on it, so it can level the yard properly.

Another advantage of this homemade lawn-roller equipment is that it is lightweight and as such won’t lead to soil compaction.

Here’s how to make a homemade lawn roller alternative using a cardboard drum:

  1. Take a sizeable cardboard drum and peel off the branding paper.
  2. Drill 1.5-inch diameter holes on both ends of the drum
  3. Insert a metallic pipe through the two holes, making sure it sticks out 6 inches from both ends.
  4. Install handles on both ends, such as a trailer tongue handle.

If you want to increase the weight of the roller, add some material inside the drum.

Old water heater

Water heater tanks are great with adequate weight. However, most of them are metallic and can prove to be a lot of metalwork to make an alternative lawn roller out of.

You can turn them into this type of equipment if you are good with cutting and drilling metals. See the resources below for reference to a great guide.

Pro tip: Keep in mind that it is better to use a lighter lawn roller over your lawn as opposed to a heavier one. Just do several passes to get the desired effect on the uneven parts of your lawn. A heavier roller will only cause soil compaction.

Alternative ways to flatten a bumpy lawn

For the average homeowner, you actually might not need to repair your lawn by passing a heavy roller over it. The few ridges of uneven ground can go away on their own when it rains.

However, a few alternative tricks can get the job done. Here’s how to flatten a bumpy lawn for easy mowing:

Dig out some soil under the high spots

Simply wait till late spring and mark out the high spots in your lawn. Dig up some of the soil underneath these areas, and remove the excess soil causing the high spots.

Return the grass as you would sod, and you’ll notice the lawn is flat again. If the grass does not fill up the spots properly, remember to add some sprigs or grass seed in order to fill up the bare spots.

Fill up the low spots with soil

For the low spots, you will also need to cut up the area with a shovel. Get some good quality soil with organic matter and fill up the low spots.

Once you level up the area, replace the grass you had cut up to achieve a level turf once again.

When can you roll your lawn?

Every homeowner worries about fixing frost heave damage. However, as the rains come, you might notice those ridges going away on their own.

There are times when you may need to flatten a bumpy lawn. For example, a golf course or a cricket pitch may be rolled to attain a smooth, level surface for playing. This is when a lawn roller may be needed.

If you’re installing new sod, you may use a light roller to make sure the pieces come into close contact with soil for the roots to grow and take hold. If this is why you need to buy a lawn roller or use alternative equipment, ensure that you use a light one.

Leveling Lawn With Lawn Roller - Does It Work?

Best Lawn Rollers

Brinly PRC-241BH 270 lb. Combination Push/Tow Poly Lawn Roller,...
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Brinly PRC-241BH 270 lb. Combination Push/Tow Poly Lawn Roller,...
  • NEW Easy-Turn Plug: Brinly Rollers now feature a new drum plug design, making filling and emptying your roller quicker and easier than ever
  • Push/Pull Combination: Convenient push or tow-behind design provides versatility for rolling tight areas or larger open spaces. Perfect tool for erasing lawn damage from moles and frost, or packing down loose dirt, seed, or sod.
  • 28 Gallon Capacity: Sturdy roller holds up to 28 gallons (270 lbs.) of water or sand and is both light enough to push through the yard and rugged enough to withstand towing behind a tractor.

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