How to Level a Sloping Yard? Yard Leveling 101

A sloping yard is one of the biggest nightmares most homeowners will face. It makes everything from landscaping to gardening extremely difficult.

When you’re faced with this sloping yard problem, the solution is leveling the ground. Now, depending on the level of the slope and land size, you may have to employ several leveling techniques to make your garden more inviting.

Not only is a sloping land unattractive, but it is also unsafe for kids to play on. That is why this leveling guide is essential.

While a lot of people use grading and leveling interchangeably, they are different but related. Let us see what grading and leveling means.

What is Grading?

Grading deals with the land arrangement to direct the runoff of water in a different direction. Generally, grading is done to channel water away from the building.

When grading is not done correctly, you’ll have water from rainfall or irrigation accumulating at your building base and in no time entering the home. Do you see why grading is essential?

What is Leveling?

While grading has to do with channeling the flow of water away from your building, leveling, on the other hand, is the creation of a smooth and reasonably level surface of your yard. 

How to Level a Sloping Yard

Why Level Your Land?

Why is leveling your land important?

You want to remove boulders and uneven surfaces from your yard to make it easier for you to drive your lawnmower across the land while producing neat work.

Level ground will also minimize the risk of accidents on your lawn. You and your kids can enjoy your outdoor BBQ party games.

Aside from being a safer ground for your kids, leveling your land will prevent erosion and flooding, which is a big problem on its own.

Some of these things that can cause an uneven surface include animal digging, heavy traffic, and change in water flow, among several other reasons.

Tools and Materials Required to Level a Yard

This is a rigorous process that requires a few tools. Here are the tools you need to complete this job.

  • Water to soften the soil
  • Retaining wall materials. Check here for retaining wall ideas
  • Shovel or excavator depending on the size of the land and steep of the slope
  • Spirit level to check for accuracy
  • Stakes and string 
  • Soil compactor
  • Sand
  • Compost
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Tiller
  • Thatch or landscaping rake
  • Grass seed or sod

Getting these tools ready before you start will make the process more straightforward.

How to Level a Yard: 9 Easy Steps

how to level a lawn

Leveling your sloping yard is a labor-intensive project and would take a lot of effort. You can decide to employ the help of professionals to help you level your yard. However, if you choose to do it yourself, having extra helping hands will reduce the burden and make it faster.

Step 1: First Seek Permission

Before you start any leveling project, you need the permission and guidance of the state. Some areas do not require approval for this kind of project, but you need to ask first. Contact your local council for the right way to go. 

Also, contact utility companies to know if underground pipes and wires should be avoided while digging.

Step 2: Remove all Vegetation and Clear Debris

Before you start digging, you want to save vegetation you already have on your land. You can do this by digging them up, transplanting them into pots, and keeping them in areas with slight shade to reduce transplant stress.

Clear all debris and dirt from the area so you can see the land level.

Step 3: Grade

Grading is necessary before leveling that’ll ensure water is flowing in the right direction and not towards your building.

A simple eye test will show you where you need to work on. Go round your building to identify low areas. Use sand to fill those areas up, then make the space compact by beating it with the back of your shovel.

Grading will ensure that water flows away from your building after leveling.

Step 4: Measure the Rise and Run of your Land

yard leveling measurement

Using your stakes and string, you can measure the rise and run of the slope. First, drive a stake into the ground at the topmost part of the slope and another at the opposite end at the lowest part of the slope. Tie a string at the ground level of the stake at the topmost position and drag the line to the stake at the lowest part making sure the string is level; tie it to the other stake, as seen in the picture above.

Run is the string’s length, and rise is the distance between the string on the second stake and the ground.

This measurement will serve as the basis for the leveling.

Step 5: Calculate and Mark the number of Terraces.

Using the run and rise numbers, you can calculate the number of terrace levels you will have.

Ideally, it is recommended to have a shorter rise per terrace as they guarantee more integrity. A rise of 2 feet and a run of 5 feet per terrace is recommended. But notwithstanding, you can still have a higher elevation if you can build a structurally sound holding wall.

The risk of the wall bulging and causing damage is high when the rise is high. 

Step 6: Water the Ground

Imagine digging a hard ground. 

Both yourself and the tools used will suffer fatigue and wear out quickly; that is why you need to water the ground at least 6 inches deep a day before digging is advised.

Why a day before and not the same day?

We want to have moist soil and not muddy soil. So allowing it to dry a little will leave it just right for digging.

Step 7: Build Retaining Wall(s)

wall retaining to level a yard

The material used will determine the strength of the retaining wall. Avoid using wood to build a wall higher than 2 feet; this is because they are likely to bulge under the sand’s weight.

You can use several materials to make your retaining wall, which includes blocks, bricks, boulders, and even plain metal, among several others.

Remember, you need a structurally sound retaining wall made from the strongest materials when making walls with rise higher than 2 feet.

Step 8: Fill with Sand. Make it Compact.

After making the retaining wall, fill the hole formed with sand till it reaches the level of the highest point. You can purchase soil or use the one from your yard if you’re lowering part of it.

Use a compactor or lawn roller to go over it in rows to make the ground compact and firm. Fill the topmost part with compost and topsoil ready for planting.

Step 9: Plant New Grass Seed or Sod

After leveling the ground and laying topsoil, water deeply and allow for a day before planting your new seed, lay sod, or even make use of hydroseeding to grow your lawn.

Whichever option you choose will take varying time to get you your lawn, but with careful planning and execution, you’ll have a lush green yard in no time.

how to level a lawn easy steps

Final words

Leveling and grading your yard will turn the once unsafe space into an attractive garden where you and your friends can have the best time.

Remember, before you start leveling, seek authorities’ approval and have utility companies mark underground pipes and wires to avoid damage.

About Jennifer Igra

Growing up in Brooklyn, New York City known for it’s green gardens. Jennifer, a 30 year old gardener and green living fanatic started Igra World to share her gardening journey and increase gardening awareness among masses. Follow Igra World to improve your gardening skills.

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