Leveling a yard means removing or adding soil until your lawn even and flat. Over time, natural shifts in earth and wear and tear cause lumps and uneven spaces in your yard. Bumpy lawns can cause all kinds of problems, from looking bad to making activities such as soccer and the like more difficult. All you need to level your yard are basic garden tools including a rake and wheelbarrow, and of course some extra soil.
- Check For Water or Gas Lines
- Mow Your Lawn
- Prepare Your Soil Mix
- Start Digging
- Lay Down New Soil
- Water Your Lawn
1. Check For Water or Gas Lines
Before you can start to level your yard you need to make sure that you know where any water pipes or gas lines are running through your lawn. If you dig in the wrong spot, you can damage these fixtures, which can cost thousands of dollars in materials and labor to repair. It's important to be prepared so that the process of leveling your yard goes as smoothly as possible.
2. Mow Your Lawn
The next thing you should do to prepare your yard for leveling is to mow the grass as short as possible. The shorter your lawn is, the easier it will be to level it out. At the same time, you should also detach and remove any weeds from your yard. You should remove the majority of thatch your can but try to leave at least a small layer to help your lawn absorb water.
3. Prepare Your Soil Mix
After you've mowed and prepped your lawn, the next thing you'll need to do to level your yard is to prepare your soil mix. You will need to make a mixture out of sand, topsoil, and compost. This kind of mixture will serve as the base of your lawn and does not compact easily. Make sure that you use gloves when making your topsoil mixture.
4. Start Digging
Next, it’s time to take a shovel to your lawn. You will want to dig up any sunken patches by removing the grass from them. Make sure you remove the grass from the holes first so you can lay the topsoil then reseed later. For bumps, take them down with a hoe or garden fork. Make sure you do not dig too deeply when taking down lawn bumps.
5. Lay Down New Soil
To make sure your yard will be level, you'll need to lay down a new layer of soil. Start by placing a ¼” layer of soil in the problem areas and use the rake to spread it evenly. If necessary, repeat this until everything is level, but do not add so much topsoil that you cover any of the surrounding grass. Spread out the top layer to cover any missing patches.
6. Water Your Lawn
Lastly, you need to water your lawn. Watering your lawn will help the topsoil settle and fill any remaining air pockets in the soil. You can also look at where the water pools to find more places that you need to level out. If you need to, you can also add a bit of grass seed if you want to spruce up your yard a bit, or there are some bare patches.
Why Should You Level a Lawn?
An adequately leveled lawn is key to having a happy and healthy lawn. Having a level lawn makes it easier to mow as your lawnmower won’t be scalping the tops of the dirt. Also, having uneven dips can cause the mower blades to go too low, making the grass cut very unevenly.
Dips and holes in your lawn can also collect standing water, which can cause rot and other lawn diseases. So there are several reasons why you should keep your yard as level and even as possible.
What Causes Lawn Bumps?
Before trying to fix an uneven lawn, you first need to figure out what is causing the lumps in the first place. Removing the cause is an integral part of finding a long-term solution. The most common reason for bumpy lawns is water and drainage problems. Standing water can pool up and damage the integrity of your grass.
Similarly, if you have a sprinkler system, that can be the culprit too. Sprinkler system pipes can burst and leak, causing lumps to appear on the surface. One way you can diagnose this problem is to check any sprinkler heads and fixtures. Check for low water pressure and make sure that the sprinkler heads are coming up all the way. Also, check to see that the nozzles are not clogged or damaged.
Natural ground movements can also cause a bumpy lawn. Over time, dirt naturally shifts can settle in uneven ways. This is unavoidable and will happen to any lawn, given enough time. Heavy rainfall can accelerate this process, as well as freezing in cold climates.
Lastly, bumps and divots can be caused by burrowing animals such as badgers, gophers, insects, and even domestic animals such as dogs.
What Equipment Do I Need to Level a Yard?
The basic equipment you will need to level a lawn is a simple rake, a landscaping rake, a shovel, a wheelbarrow, and a large push broom. You can also buy a leveling rake from your local hardware store. Landscaping rakes are very useful as they can break up clumps of dirt and remove rocks, but they are not explicitly necessary to level a yard.
When Is the Best Time to Level Your Yard?
As is the case with most other landscaping tasks, there is a best time to level your yard. In general, spring is the best time to level your yard. This is because the soil is an ideal mix between dry and moist, and your grass has already had some time to grow for the season. Grass is in the active stage during the spring, so it is the healthiest and most resilient to landscaping efforts. If you live in a colder climate, you can also level your yard in the summer without too many problems.
Large yards look great and give you plenty of room for activities, but a large lawn is prone to developing more irregularities and lumpy parts. Yard leveling is an essential part of your lawn maintenance, as it ensures your yard is free from bumps and looks great. A bumpy law not only looks unattractive but can also be a potential safety hazard and cause trips and sprained ankles. Uneven yards can also cause problems with drainage, flooding, and damage underground structures such as pipes and sewage reservoirs.