How To Level A Yard: Step By Step Guide

The PropertyClub Team
Nov 2nd 2020
A bumpy and uneven lawn can look unattractive and also cause a variety of water drainage, and safety issues. Leveling a yard can turn it back into an even and green landscape.

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. 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. 

This guide covers how to level a yard and get those bumps back to normal. 

Why Should You Level a Lawn?

Leveling a lawn means removing or adding soil until it is 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. 

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, 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. 

Steps for Leveling Your Lawn

Before doing anything, make sure that you know where any water pipes or gas lines are running through your yard. If you dig in the wrong spot, you can damage these fixtures, which can cost thousands of dollars in materials n and labor to repair. 

The very first thing you should do before taking the rake to your yard 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. 

The next step 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.

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. 

From there, you are set to lay down a new layer of soil. Place a ¼” layer of soil in the problem areas and use the rake to spread it evenly. Do not add so much topsoil that you cover any of the surrounding grass. Spread out the top layer to cover any missing patches. 

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. 

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.