Garden & Outdoor

How To Level a Lawn

A perfectly manicured level lawn

Uneven lawns are not only difficult to mow and a bit of an eyesore – but they can cause waterlogging problems that will eventually turn your grass into a swamp during the Winter months.

Learning how to level a sloping lawn will help minimise soil erosion, improve drainage and more importantly, allow you to create the perfect outdoor space.

To make things easy for you, we have put together this handy step-by-step guide that will teach you how to level your lawn.

Before you begin, it’s recommended that you read our DIY Safety Tips guide to keep yourself safe while carrying out this gardening project.

Let’s start with what you’ll need.

Materials:

Tools

  1. Work out why your ground is uneven

    Working out why the ground is uneven is the first step to getting a level lawn. Your sloping garden may stem from any one of these reasons:

    • Pipes and drainage – a common cause of uneven ground is water causing erosion. If there are water or drainage pipes under your lawn and you notice low patches occurring in a straight line, there could be a leak that needs fixing.
    • Ground settlement – natural weather cycles and soil movement can change the surface of the ground over time. Or if your garden hasn’t been established long, such as on a new-build, the soil beneath may still be settling.
    • Patchy grass – if there isn’t an even root system holding the soil in place, bald patches will occur due to the changing weather and heavy footfall.
    • People and animals – whether you take the same route to fill up the bird bath, the kids are into football, or the dog likes to roll beside the patio doors – human and animal activity will play havoc with an even lawn.
  2. When to start

    The best time to start this gardening work is in the Springtime, as this time of year will encourage the grass to grow quickly, and the weather should provide enough moisture for the soil to settle properly.

    • If you think there might be an issue with pipes underneath your lawn, get a professional to check that first. If there’s a recurring problem with water drainage, the lawn might need to be regraded. This means that it needs to be landscaped so that it slopes slightly away from the house, stopping standing water from damaging your garden and protecting your property from flooding.
    • Take a close look at your lawn and get to grips with just how bumpy it is – how deep are the low spots compared to the surrounding lawn? This will help you decide what the best approach is. The right level of moisture is key, the soil shouldn’t be too dry or too wet.

    A couple of days after rainfall or watering your lawn is about right. Whether you’re tackling a slight unevenness or more serious damage – the same mixture of topsoil, sand and compost will even it out.

  3. The mix

    You’ll need topsoil, sand and compost in a ratio of 2:2:1 to level a lawn. For example: 20kg topsoil, 20kg sand and 10kg compost. This combination provides bulk and drainage to even out the lawn, as well as nutrients to help the grass flourish.

  4. For mildly lumpy lawns

    • For areas that are 1 to 2cm lower than the surrounding ground, you can apply a layer of the mix directly to the problem areas and smooth it out with the back of a lawn levelling rake.
    • Gently compact the soil mix with your feet.
    • Repeat these steps until all the cavities are nice and level.
    • Let it settle for a few days, lightly water it if the weather is dry and top up the soil mix if it sinks down. Next – scatter over an even layer of grass seed, add a sprinkle of extra soil mix and pat it down gently by hand.
    • Water it lightly four times a day for the first 48hrs to encourage the seeds to germinate. Once it’s sprouted, water the young grass every day until established and fill in any bare patches by adding extra seed.
  5. For spots deeper than 2-3cm

    • It’s important to water the area in advance, so the turf is nice and pliable and doesn’t crumble when you try to lift it.
    • Grab a flat-headed shovel, one of the best lawn level tools, and cut a 4-5cm deep cross into the turf, extending a small distance beyond the edges of the dip. Use the shovel to cut under the roots of the grass, so that you can lift each section – taking care not to break it off.
    • Gently peel back the quarters to expose the soil underneath. Use a garden fork to turn the soil and get rid of any big stones, then top it up with your soil mix and stamp it down with your feet.
    • Adding a bit of water at this stage can help make sure there are no trapped air pockets that will spoil your hard work.
    • Apply more soil mix and use the back of a lawn levelling rake to level the surface with the surrounding area.
    • Fold the flaps of turf back and press into place, starting at the outer edges and working towards the centre.
    • Fill in the cut marks with a little extra soil mix and a sprinkling of grass seed. Water the area regularly over the next few days to keep the grass healthy and happy.
  6. For bumps

    Follow the same method of cutting a cross and lifting back the sections of turf – but in this case, remove the excess soil and any stones, then flatten out the ground with your feet.

    Replace the sections of turf and repair the cut marks in the same way as above. Once you’ve levelled out all the problematic spots, you can use a plank and a spirit level to see just how close to perfect your lawn is.

    Now you know how to level your lawn, you’ll want to create the perfect space for you and your family to enjoy. You can find some inspirational garden design ideas in our guide here.

     



Homebase

Homebase

Writer and expert