How To Level A Lawn

Levelling Out Those Dips and Bumps


Laying down a new quality turf is an exciting time when you’ll see a tremendous transformation take place in your backyard.

A premium quality turf can add significant value to your home but for best results you’ll want to make sure the area is beautifully level.

Here, you can learn all you need to know about how to level your own lawn for that bowling green perfection.

We’ve also got some great advice and handy tips for levelling out those dips and bumps on an already existing lawn.

Whether you’re wanting to improve your current lawn or you’re getting ready to lay down some new turf it’s worth taking the time to make sure that the ground is nice and level.

An uneven lawn that’s riddled with bumps and uneven patches makes mowing difficult and can also lead to water logging problems.

Those patches of standing water can make your lawn very unhealthy.

So, where do you begin to level uneven lawns.

Are You Ready to Level Your Lawn?

Start by observing your entire lawn.

  • Do you notice any areas where water pools in the rain?
  • Is your lawn pockmarked by indentations where the kids or pets have dug holes or damaged the surface with their exuberant play?
  • If there are areas that have only recently begun to persistently flood it could be an indication that there are some problems with the underground drainage system such as leaking water pipes or drainage pipes.

You’ll want to get those drainage problems sorted first for a really healthy lawn.

If you don’t, you may find the lawn continues to sink and you’ll end up with even worse problems.

How to Level a Bumpy / Uneven Lawn

Now that you’ve identified the areas that need levelling you need to work out which levelling method is appropriate. There are two ways to level an existing lawn.

Some areas can be levelled with some minor topdressing other more sunken patches (more than 3 cms deep) will require more heavy-duty surgery.

Early spring is the best time to repair lawns and carry out levelling work as it allows any new seed time to germinate and establish itself before the heat of summer.

Shallow Low Spots

Dealing with minor depressions (up to 3 cms deep) is straightforward.

Take a top dressing mixture of two parts sand, two parts soil and 1 part fine compost and mix well together.

Spread this mix into the depressions until level with the surrounding soil. Tamp the soil gently down and then water lightly.

After a few days, check the soil level and top up if necessary. Spread some grass seed, cover lightly with some top soil and gently water.

You’ll need to water regularly until the grass has germinated and is established.

Repeat this process for any shallow depressions. You may find that some of these areas settle a little over time and you need to repeat the treatment.

It’s better to do this type of levelling gradually because if you apply too much soil at one time it can cause problems with drainage.

Shallow Low Spots

Deeper Depressions and Holes

If the hole to be filled is deeper than 3 cms, you’ll need to do some surgery. You’ll need a square end spade.

It’s best to use this method after rain when the soil is wet and less prone to crumbling.

Step #1

Take the spade and cut a slice across the centre of the depression and out to either side. Cut down to about 5cms deep. Repeat along a perpendicular line to form a cross shape.

Step #2

Slide the spade horizontally underneath (5cms deep) each section of the cross and gently peel back the turf.

Step #3

Add sand or the top dressing mix described above until you’ve filled the hole level with the surrounding soil then replace the turf.

Step #4

Tamp the turf back down to remove air pockets that might form and lead to the soil sinking again over time.

Step #6

Apply top dressing mix to any gaps left around the cuts then apply a thin layer of new grass seed if needed.

Step #7

Water regularly the area, especially where you’ve spread new grass seed until any scars have healed over.

This method can also be used be used for removing soil under high spots in your bumpy lawn.

You’ll need to keep foot traffic off the new grass until it is well established.

How to level a lawn in your backyard

How to Level a New Lawn

If you’re preparing to lay a new lawn, start by spraying the area to get rid of old grass and weeds.

You may need to repeat spray for any resistant or stubborn weeds so make sure you do this preparation at least 14 days before you plan to lay the lawn.

Step #1

Remove dead weeds and any rocks or large stones.

Step #2

Rotary hoe the soil to a depth of around 100 mms. Aim to get a very even soil consistency so make sure there are no soil clumps left.

Step #3

Check the soil pH. Most grass seed and turf varieties tolerate a wide range of pH levels but if the pH is too low (below 6) then add some lime—100 to 200g per m2 is a general guideline.

Step #4

Use a garden rake to spread the soil as evenly as you can and smooth out any bumpy patches by running a straight edge or straight piece of timber.

It’s worthwhile taking the time to do this well to get that perfectly level lawn.

How Much to Level a Lawn

How much levelling your lawn will need will depend on a number of factors.

The depth of top soil will help determine whether you fill in a hollow or lower surrounding high points.

You’ll also want to take into account factors such as the general topography of your section.

Your section might need some major landscaping to attain any really workable level.

This might necessitate the use of a digger and the construction of retraining walls.

In many cases, you may need to obtain council consent for building a retaining wall.

A very gentle consistent slope in your lawn away from your house can be a good thing as it will allow water to drain away safely and avoid drainage problems.

Of course, a more steeply sloping lawn can be a really attractive feature too.

It all depends on your budget and the particular look you’re aiming to achieve.

Levelling A Lawn With Topsoil

How to Level a Lawn with Topsoil

Topsoil is very useful for building up deeper hollows and sunken areas. Try to use the same type of soil as is present in your lawn area.

You’ll probably find similar soil mix in your garden beds.

If you are top dressing a small hollow with topsoil, make sure you sweep the excess soil off so that the grass is not covered and can stand upright.

Ideally, for sunken areas deeper than 3cms, you’ll want to use the cross shape cut and lift method mentioned above.

Remember to tamp the turf down firmly once the repair is complete to avoid the formation of any air pockets.

Ensure you use topsoil that has good structure. You don’t want to use soil that’s clumpy, too heavy or with too much clay.

It needs to be able to hold some moisture yet still provide good drainage as well as nutrition for the grass.

Ideally, a sand soil mix (sand, topsoil and compost) gives the best results because the sand improves drainage, the soil provides some good structure and the compost will provide an abundance of nutrients.

How to Level a Lawn with Sand

Applying pure sand is a really useful way to level very minor depressions particularly in clay soil and provided you don’t cover the existing grass too deeply, you’ll find the grass will survive and grow back.

Brush the grass blades backwards and forwards with a broom to help the sand settle.

Sand can greatly assist drainage especially in poor heavy clay type soils. Use only good quality river sand from your garden centre.

Be careful not to take sand from the beach as it contains salt that will kill your lawn.

Let the Experts Do it For You

It can be enormously satisfying learning how to level a lawn yourself. Of course, if all this sounds like too much trouble, especially if you’re starting from scratch and really want a superb result, then call in our expert lawn laying team.

We can ensure that your site is levelled immaculately, the soil is in tiptop condition, and your lawn is laid perfectly.


Additional Reading

More and more often there are community groups, residents, sporting groups, local government and planners looking for information and research on the benefits of natural grass.

Below are a number of documents, links, research articles to assist in the decision making process.

Grechs Turf will continue to update this information as new resources are available.

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