Step-By-Step Guide: How To Level Your Garden

Having an uneven garden is a headache for every homeowner. It gives you hard times, especially when it’s time to use your lawn mower. Even if you don’t enjoy the whole mowing thing, making it easier is an essential aspect! Let alone how unappealing it looks. The good news? You don’t even need to use a mini digger to level it!

A man levelling the soil on his garden

A well-levelled garden helps the drainage system and minimises soil erosion. But why is your garden uneven, and what can you do to level it? 

What makes your lawn uneven?

Several factors can cause your lawn and other landscaping to being uneven. Some of the main factors are:

  • The pets and other animals: If you or your neighbours have pets or other stray animals have access to your garden, it can make your lawn uneven. The most significant problem is during the months that your lawn is more sensible. 
  • Children: If you have children that play in the garden, it is also a factor that makes your lawn uneven. When the soil is soft, nobody should step on the lawn as it might harm your grass’ health and cause damage to the surface.
  • Waterlogging: Water sitting on the lawn can cause issues and even damage the grass. The problem is even worse during the winter. That’s why you should drain it the right way and get rid of water.
  • Nightcrawlers: These “not-so-cute” worms can move through 20 -25 tons of soil per acre to the surface. However, you can prevent them from visiting your landscape by keeping your soil’s pH level low.
  • Soil installation: Natural stones, rocks, piping and other debris underneath the grass can affect its structure. Thus, before installing a lawn, clean all the areas from all the culprits that might jeopardise its composition. 

Some stones and flowers on the soil of a garden

How to level your uneven garden

Fixing your uneven garden might be hard work to do, but it’s very important for keeping your landscape in good condition as it will eliminate soil erosion and improve drainage. By having the right tools and getting a bit dirty, you can have a well-levelled garden in no time.

Let’s see what tools you need:

  • Rods and string
  • 3-foot carpenter’s leveller and/or string line
  • Flat shovel
  • Long 2 by 4 piece of lumber
  • Garden rake
  • Garden water sprinkler
  • Earthmoving and compacting equipment
  • Wheelbarrow or a garden trolley for transporting sand and soil
  • Protective gloves and shoes

A wheelbarrow carrying soil in a garden

Then, to have a levelled garden, you need to follow these steps:

1. Mark the area

Whether you want to install a new lawn or a new garden, you have to decide and mark the area. For this, you can apply two methods, the string line or carpenter’s level method. Both ways will determine the sloping ground and how much it will require fixing adjustments. 

The string line way

To use this method, you will need:

  • 4 rods
  • String
  • A tape measure

Now, do the following steps:

  1. Make a square using 4 rods around the trouble area and tie the rods with a string.
  2. Get a new string and connect it to the four sides. This way, you can check the string level. 
  3. Using a tape measure, check the height from the ground to the string. Check all sides to see how much adjustment the ground needs to make it level. Note the high and low spots
The carpenter’s level method

You need only two things to apply this method:

  • A carpenter’s level
  • A long lumber piece

Once you have both tools, you can determine and mark the troubled area. Let’s see how:

  1. The first to do is to place the carpenter’s level over the lumber piece. This way, you’ll be able to measure the long distances in your garden.
  2. Keep checking the bubble on the spirit level. It will show you the ground level and measure the slope.

2. Remove the grass

If you want to level an existing sloping garden, you should first remove the grass from the uneven area. However, if you’re going to install a new lawn on bare land, then ignore this step. 

To remove the grass from your garden, you need only a flat shovel. Push the shovel into the ground about 3 cm to 6 cm deep, slide the shovel and lift the soil out

A gardener taking the grass out of the soil

3. Water

In case there’s already grass, you’ll have to take it out to level the soil underneath. However, before starting pulling out the grass, you’ll have to water the uneven lawn you are about to take out first. Wet soil will help you dig and uproot the grass easier. 

You can also water the ground a few days earlier to let the soil absorb the required amount of water to become soft and comfortable to work with. You need to be rather careful, though. Too much water will make the ground too moist and plump, giving you a hard time to work with. You just need to wet the topsoil without making it crumble into dust when the grass is pulled out. 

4. Add extra soil

When you have removed the grass, you’ll have to fill the spots with soil to bring the troubled areas to the same level as the rest of your garden.  Keep in mind that not any soil will do the job. You better use nutrient-rich soil consisting of two parts sand, two parts topsoil and one part compost. Pour the mixture on the area and spread it evenly using a rake.

5. Flatten the ground

Now, its’ time to protect the ground from erosion. If you have a small garden, you can just stomp your feet over the area until the land is flattened and well levelled

But if you are working with a large garden, then you are going to need compacting equipment. In other words, a compactor. Once you’ve finished the compaction, let the soil settle for about three weeks before planting new grass seeds. Meanwhile, sprinkle some water over the new soil layer now and then, especially during the summer.

A man flattening the ground of his garden

How to prepare your lawn for levelling

Before starting the process, you need to check your lawn, decide where it needs to be levelled, how much is necessary, and if there are any drainage issues. When you have determined what the problem is, you can prepare your lawnHere’s what you have to do:

1. Look for low spots and drainage problems

When around water pipes there is an issue you should let the professionals deal with. If you have any drainage problems, you’ll have to level the lawn and create steep slopes to prevent flooding and help the soil drain. Otherwise, you can install an underground drainage system with gravel or flexible drainpipes.  Beyond the low parts and drainage issues, you should also look for wear and tear, mole damages, drought and frost. Factors that can cause bumpy lawn and hollows.

To level the lawn, you should first determine the extent of the damaged area and then decide how to level it. Check the depth of the low parts. According to the depth, you will choose the method that works best. Whatever way you follow requires the same mixture when it comes to top dressing your lawn: two parts sand, two parts topsoil and one part compost. This is the perfect mixture to improve drainage and to form nutrient-rich soil.

2. Pre-water your lawn for levelling

Several days before the planned day, you’ll have to water it. The soil during the levelling process shouldn’t be too hard, dry or powdery to be able to make the changes. You should also be rather careful not to overdo it while watering your lawn. Wet soil can be as challenging to work as dry soil.

A man watering his lawn

How to level shallow low spots on your lawn

They are about 1 cm- 3cm lower than the rest garden. These eyesores are a DIY job and don’t need you to be a professional landscaper to do it. You just have to apply the top dressing mixture directly. 

  1. First, you will have to shake out a thin layer from the troubled area and then spread the new, extra soil over it using a garden rake
  2. When you have filled the low spot, use your feet to apply pressure and compact the soil. Water afterwards and let it settle. 
  3. Once the soil has settled forplant new grass seeds and spread some extra topsoil mixture. 
  4. Then, pat down the soil lightly with your palm. For the first two days, water the soil four times per day to help the seeds sprout. After these two days, you can water as usual.

How to level deep low spots on your lawn

For spots that are more than 3 cm deeper than the rest of the ground, you need a different method to level them up. You are going to need a squared-off shovel.

Follow now these steps:

  1.  Use this type of shovel and slice it to the bumpy lawn centre, creating a cut like a cross.
  2. Cut about 4-5cm deep and slide the shovel underneath to cut the cross horizontally. Make sure to keep the shovel flat to maintain an even thickness of soil. 
  3. Pull the edges of the turf back to lay them flat without breaking
  4. Fill the hollow using a garden fork. 

A beautiful house with a perfect lawn

You don’t have to be a professional landscaper to level your sloping garden. OK! It isn’t an easy job. But it’s something you can do on your own as long as you have the right tools, observance, enough time and correct guidelinesYou can create the perfect garden following the methods we said above. The ideal time to level your garden is around spring because grass seeds will have enough time to grow, and the soil will be moist enough to settle. Plus, now you can mow the lawn and take care of your flower beds without any disturbances!

Scroll to Top
Send this to a friend