Uneven Lawn

How To Level An Uneven Lawn

A lawn can become uneven due to various reasons like soil erosion, damaged pipelines and holes created by pets or other animals. Eden explains how to level an uneven lawn using three techniques – topdressingraising the turf, and filling in large spots.

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How to Level a Lawn with Topdresssing Technique

Topdressing a lawn refers to applying a thin layer (about ¼ to ½ inch) of soil, sand, and organic matter to level a lawn or amend the soil. The ideal composition of topdressing material for leveling a lawn is 40 percent topsoil, 40 percent play sand and 20 percent compost. The topdressing method is used to level lawns with minor leveling issues.

The step-by-step procedure for leveling a lawn using the topdressing technique is given below.

  1. Mow the lawn: Mow your lawn short before you begin topdressing so that the new topdressing material comes in proper contact with the ground below when applied.
  2. Dethatch the lawn: If the thatch layer in your lawn has built up to more than ½ inch, then you need to remove it or dethatch your lawn before topdressing so that the thatch layer does not become a barrier between the new soil and the soil below. Use a dethatching rake for this purpose.
  3. Mix topsoil, sand, and compost: Take a wheelbarrow and mix the correct composition of topsoil, sand and compost (two parts topsoil, two parts sand and one part compost). Ensure that they are thoroughly mixed till no interfaces remain between the three materials.
  4. Spread a thin layer of topdressing material on the low spots: Use a scoop shovel to scoop the mixture from the wheelbarrow and spread a thin layer of material to the low spots. Make sure that the thickness of the topdressing layer is not more than half an inch to prevent smothering the grass underneath.
  5. Rake: Rake the topdressing mix over the entire spot to level it using a garden rake.
  6. Brush the grass back and forth: Work the topdressing mix to the ground while brushing the grass back and forth using a push broom to lift the blades of grass up. This ensures the grass blades are not buried beneath the leveling mix.
  7. Water the leveled area: Water the leveled area lightly. This allows the topdressing material to settle well on the ground, lets the nutrients from the compost in the mix trickle down to the original soil layer and removes any air pockets between the leveling mix and the ground below. Be sure not to overwater the area as this will cause the applied topdressing mix to wash away due to runoff.
  8. Monitor and reapply as required: Monitor the leveled area for a few more watering cycles and check for puddles or runoff. If you find any of these problems, the area needs to be leveled again. If you don’t see any problems, congratulations! You have successfully leveled your lawn.

Even Lawn

How to Level a Lawn by Lifting the Turf

The technique of leveling a lawn by lifting the turf is also called sweeping the dirt under the carpet because that is essentially what we are doing – lifting the carpet of grass and filling the low spot underneath it to level the area. This method of leveling the lawn is also suitable for areas of the lawn with minor leveling issues.

The step-by-step procedure to level a lawn by lifting the turf is given below.

  1. Moisten the area you need to level: Lightly water the area you need to level an hour or two before cutting the sod, just enough to make the soil moist. This will make cutting the sod easier and minimize root damage when you raise the turf.
  2. Cut the turf or sod in the area: Cut along the edges of the uneven turf using a sod cutter, flat spade or lawn edger. If it is a large area, cut the sod into multiple pieces to make it easier to remove and replace. Ensure the cuts are vertical, clean, and sharp to avoid damaging the turf.
  3. Remove the sod: Insert the flat edge of the spade or lawn edger into the cut you just made and gently pry the sod up to separate the roots from the soil. Be careful as you are doing this because you don’t want to damage the sod in the process. Roll up the sod as you remove it and store it in a cool place. If you feel the leveling process will take a few hours, keep the sod moist during this time.
  4. Fill the low spot with topsoil: Fill the uneven spot with topsoil and level it till the area is on the same level as the rest of the lawn. Make sure that the soil you add is free from debris so that it doesn’t cause leveling issues later. After you finish adding the soil, water the soil to settle it and remove any air pockets. It is okay if the level goes down a little after watering.
  5. Replace the sod: Carefully unroll the sod/ turf patch and replace it. If you have cut the sod in multiple pieces, make sure that the edges of each piece of sod are flush with the piece next to it, without overlapping. Gently tamp down the sod with your hand or foot once you have placed it correctly to remove any air pockets and ensure full contact with the soil below.
  6. Water the area: Water the replaced sod lightly to connect the sod with the soil below. Monitor the leveled area carefully as the replaced sod is fragile after removal and might need extra care to recover.

How to Fill Large Low Spots in a Lawn

If your lawn has large low spots or deeper depressions, then using the topdressing method or leveling by sweeping dirt under the carpet is not feasible. Raising the level of larger depressions by topdressing them half an inch at a time will take a long time, and raising larger areas of turf will damage the sod. The best way to level deeply sunken areas (more than 2 inches) is to level and reseed the area. 

The step-by-step procedure to fill large low spots in a lawn is given below.

  1. Remove any existing grass: If the low spot has any existing grass, you need to remove it to level the areas. If the deep low spot is bare, you can directly start from the second step. 
  2. Aerate the area: Aerate the soil to remove any compaction and ensure good drainage before you level it.
  3. Water thoroughly: Water the aerated area thoroughly to check for any paddling or drainage issues.
  4. Overfill the area with topsoil: Fill the area with topsoil that is free of debris and weeds to prevent any additional problems in the lawn. Make sure to overfill it so the level is slightly higher than the rest of the lawn because the soil will settle.
  5. Water the area again: Water the area to make the added topsoil settle and remove any air pockets.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 if the soil settles below the level of the rest of the lawn: If the level of the settled soil is below the level of the rest of the lawn, add more topsoil accordingly and water the area again. Leave this leveled bare soil for two weeks to ensure it settles completely, and the level is correct.
  7. Ensure the top few inches of soil are loose: During settling, the soil should not become compact, especially the top three inches. The topsoil needs to be loose for healthy germination and development of grass seed.
  8. Reseed the leveled area: Once the level has been corrected completely, reseed the area with the right grass seed. Monitor the area carefully and irrigate it adequately to ensure healthy grass growth.

Uneven Lawn

When is the Best Time to Level a Lawn?

The best time to level a lawn is during spring when the grass is actively growing. Leveling a lawn can stress the grass, especially if you raise the turf or add topsoil over it. Therefore, leveling the lawn during the active growth period of the grass will allow the turf to recover faster and develop healthily. 

In conclusion, lawns can be leveled using any of the three methods mentioned above – topdressing, lifting the turf and filling in large spots depending on the depth of the low areas. However, leveling the lawn is a labor-intensive and physically exhausting process. Therefore, Eden recommends hiring a professional lawn care service to save yourself time and effort.

Don’t stress over selecting the right product or completing the application. Eden has professionals on stand-by to complete.