How to Level a Yard: A Comprehensive Guide

It’s hard to admire the yard if it’s sloping or uneven. That would be extremely difficult if you’ve pictured grand landscaping or gardening.

Before you even think about covering your uneven yard with expensive landscaping, you must consider ‘yard leveling’ first.

This article has the steps to show you how to level a yard! It is essential to follow these steps to make your landscaping and gardening more appealing.

The leveling process is not going to be easy, but it can be done.

How to Level a Yard in 7 Easy Steps

How to Level a Yard in 7 Easy Steps

The whole yard leveling project can be daunting and time-consuming. You can do it yourself if you have great gardening and landscaping skills.

But if your yard is wide, it is always a good idea to ask for professional help to make the work faster and more efficient.

If you choose to do this project yourself, here are seven steps on how to level a yard:

Step 1: Gather the Needed Equipment

lawn Equipment

You can’t start the leveling project without the proper equipment. Here are the essential tools you will need:

  • Top dressing mix (a mix of sand, compost, and topsoil)
  • Lawn Mower and Thatch rake (or dethatching machine)
  • Garden rake and large push broom
  • Carpenter’s level and stakes
  • Wheelbarrow and a shovel
  • Strings and measuring tools

Step 2: Mow the Entire Lawn (Keep the Grass Blades Visible)

Before clearing the lawn, take a good view of your land where you have good vegetation to save.

A mowing height between 2½ to three inches is suggested. Do not cut the existing grass too short. This can dry out the grass and add to your lawn problem.

If you have a larger lawn, use a dethatching machine to maximize your time. When you’ve cleared out the yard, you can start digging.

Dig up the grass in the sunken areas of the lawn, and check for low spots deeper than two or three inches. Dig up until you expose the dirt beneath the grass.

Step 3: Measure the Rise and Run of your Land

To have your yard perfectly even, measure the rise and run using your stakes and strings. To do this correctly, follow these steps in sequence:

  1. Drive a stake into the ground on both ends of the slope (topmost and lowest parts).
  2. From the topmost part, tie a string at the ground level and drag the line to the other end.
  3. You can measure the ‘run’ with the string’s length and the ‘rise’ with the distance between the string level on the second stake and the ground.
Measure the Rise and Run of your Land

Step 4: Calculate and Mark the number of Terraces

When you’ve identified the run and rise numbers, you can calculate and mark the number of terraces. Why do we need to do this?

Marking terraces is an essential step on how to level a sloping yard. Terraces will help reduce the number of the rise, consequently reducing the risk of the wall bulging and causing damage.

With several terrace levels, you can conserve soil and water with a shorter rise per terrace. This guarantees more integrity of the yard’s surface structure.

The recommended rise and run measurements are 2 feet by 5 feet, but you can have a higher elevation, given that you can build a structurally sound holding wall.

Step 5: Water the Ground and Prepare the Topdressing

After measuring everything else in the yard, don’t get your shovel yet! You need to water the ground first! This will soften the soil, making it easier for you to do the digging.

It is suggested to water the soil 6 inches deep A DAY BEFORE the digging. By doing so, the soil will dry up a little, becoming moist rather than muddy.

While waiting for the soil to dry, you can prepare your leveling mix.

Topdressing is a soil mixture of two parts topsoil, two parts sand, and one part compost in a wheelbarrow.

You must mix to blend evenly. This will be used to level the uneven lawn.

What’s good about this soil mix? The sand keeps the lawn level, while the soil and compost add nutrients to the grass.

You can purchase organic topsoil on Amazon or use the existing soil in your yard.

Step 6: Build the Retaining Wall

Build the Retaining Wall

When you build the retaining walls, you must avoid using wood as it can likely bulge under the sand’s weight. If you experience heavy rain, water can rot the wooden floor joists.

It is not sturdy and will cause problems in the long run, especially if you are building retaining walls near your home’s foundation.

The ideal materials to use for making your retaining walls include the following:

  • blocks
  • bricks
  • boulders

Remember, you need sturdy retaining walls made from the strongest materials when making walls with a rise higher than two feet.

Step 7: Grade the Uneven Lawn and Fill It with It Soil Mix

Grading your entire yard is necessary before leveling it with the soil mixture. Why? Doing this will also allow the higher-up dirt to move into the lower-lying areas.

You will get that nice level surface, and it is easier to do landscaping or gardening.

After building the retaining wall, fill the hole with sand until it reaches the highest level.

Once you’ve done this, do a simple eye test and take a good look at the land. Some areas may need additional soil mixture to make it even. Use sand to fill those areas up.

Fill in the area beneath the grass. Look for a sunken area and place a thin layer of new grass seed and new soil.

When adding the additional soil mix, use a compactor or lawn roller to go over it in rows to flatten the surface.

What Causes a Lawn to Be Uneven

Many factors contribute to an uneven or bumpy lawn. Home improvement projects are one. Sewer installation or building a swimming pool can result in a bumpy lawn.

These are other common causes of uneven areas in your lawn:

Children’s Playtime in the Yard

Children's Playtime in the Yard

The lawn can easily be uneven as it endures foot traffic daily.

Especially when children are playing on the lawn when the soil is soft, it can put a lot of pressure on the lawn.

This will leave grass unhealthy and eventually cause the soil to become uneven. Keeping the foot traffic off the lawn can be a solution, or learning how to level a yard can resolve this.

Animals and Pets

Animals and Pets

Animals are one of the many causes of uneven lawns, especially if you live remotely and wild animals are constant visitors. It is no surprise if you see small animal holes in your yard.

Some homeowners with cats or dogs will likely have to deal with pets happily digging the yard. This can cause the grass to dry and your lawn to look bumpy.

Soil Settlement

Soil Settlement

Other causes of uneven yard surfaces are the things that occur beneath the grass and soil. Root growth, big rocks, and other debris can affect the lawn’s composition.

To resolve this, you must excavate the areas and break up the rubble underneath. Fill the low spots with soil mix.

Waterlogging

Waterlogging

Waterlogging is another culprit of mildly uneven areas in your lawn. In the winter months, snow melt can make the soil soggy.

During heavy rains, the surface will collect water and form water runoff or standing water.

The yard level should be fixed, as waterlogging in the grass can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other pests that carry diseases.

Why Is It Important to Level Your Yard?

If you are looking for information on how to level a yard, you probably know it is instrumental in keeping your landscape with healthy grass aesthetically pleasing.

A level yard provides stability to your outdoor landscape. It also prevents serious damage and costly repairs to your foundation.

Your lawn must gradually slope away from your home to allow rainwater to drain away from your foundation.

If rainwater runs toward your home, the water will accumulate around the foundation walls. This will cause moisture to build up. Weakening your foundation.

The level ground will also minimize the risk of accidents on your lawn so you and your family can enjoy a nice time in the yard.

FAQs

Now that we’ve discussed all the HOWS and WHYS of yard leveling, let’s hop on some more frequently asked questions. You might find the answers helpful.

What’s the Best Time of Year to Level Your Lawn?

Spring is the best time to start your repairs and lawn leveling. This is when your entire yard is free of frost and grass is actively growing.

Fill in the low spots, as these promote lawn disease. Seed over and let it grow as your yard is coming out of winter dormancy.

This will allow grass seed time to grow while providing sufficient moisture for the soil to settle.

Can I Level a Yard by Myself, or Do I Need a Professional Landscaper?

Do-it-yourself lawn care will cost more if you don’t know how to do it right. Yard leveling involves moving dirt from one place to another and transplanting the grass.

You’ll need to use shovels, rakes, wheelbarrows, or earth-moving equipment.

On average, it typically costs $100 per hour to rent (minus the heavy equipment), and it can cost from $50 to $100 per hour to have your yard professionally leveled.

Price can vary on the yard’s slope and size. If you want to save time, you will need a helper or two, and they typically charge from $25 to $35 per hour.

What Are Some Preventive Measures to Avoid Uneven Yard?

When you encounter an uneven lawn, the best way to deal with it is to address it as best as possible.

A level lawn looks attractive and safe, especially if you have children who play in your yard. Many uneven surfaces are made safer through simple fixes, and it’s always worth it.

To maintain a level yard, here are some useful tips:

  • Observe the grass for waterlogged areas during rainy days and winter months
  • Fill air pockets with a thin layer of top dressing mix or leveling mix (reapply as needed)
  • Clear up the yard with a push broom to expose bumps on the surface
  • Dig up bumps on the lawn and level the soil using the back part of your shovel
  • Check sewers for any drainage issues

Conclusion

If you learn how to level your backyard, you’ll be able to appreciate it more. It’s as if you’re looking at a new lawn!

A flat lawn is more appealing, especially if you decide on laying out expensive landscaping. Leveling your own lawn can be difficult, especially with steep slopes.

Just remember to look for sunken areas and low spots, look out for root growth and keep your pets off your lawn.

How to fix yard bumps? Fix them by clearing them up with a thatch rake, digging up to grass roots, and adding dirt or soil mix.

Leveling a sloped yard before and after springtime is totally different.

With proper and constant lawn care, you will not have to worry about uneven grass growth, and mowing the entire lawn will be much easier.

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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