Over time, even the most carefully laid of lawns can develop lumps and bumps. Water freezing and thawing, animals burrowing, and even people walking can all rid your lawn of its smooth surface. So how do you go about putting it right?
We’re firm believers in the importance of a level lawn, and we’re going to help you achieve just that! Read on, and we’ll take you through the process one step at a time. And we’ll share some extra tips for getting great results.
Tools for levelling lawn
- Hosepipe or watering can
- Lawn dressing mixture
- Grass seed – if there are bare patches on your lawn
- Wheelbarrow – if you need to repair larger bumps and hollows
- Shovel – as above
- Garden fork
- Garden rake
Step by Step Guide on how to Level a Lawn
Step 1: Cut the grass
The first step is to find out what you’re dealing with. Is your lawn mostly flat, with just a few minor lumps and bumps? Or are there larger dips, mounds or hollows to address?
To help you get a good look at the lie of the land, get out the lawnmower and cut the grass. Try to get down fairly low, but don’t scalp the grass.
With that done, walk across the whole area and see how much levelling off is required. This will ensure you know how much lawn dressing you’ll need.
If it’s going to be a bigger job, you’ll need a wheelbarrow to transport the lawn dressing where it’s required. And you’ll need a square-edged shovel too.
Try to identify the root cause of the bumpiness. If it’s a simple case of the soil shifting and compacting over time, there won’t be much you can do.
But if there are more serious underlying issues, you’ll want to resolve them before spending time levelling your grass. If there’s a leak from a water pipe, for example, your lawn won’t stay level for long.
For advice on how to identify causes of a bumpy lawn, take a look at the DIY Lawn Expert website.
Step 2: Water the grass
A few days before you’re going to level the lawn, give it a good water. You can do this with a watering can if the lawn is a manageable size. But however large it is, you’ll find the job easier if you get out the hosepipe.
You want to moisten the grass, rather than drenching it. If you’re using a hose, select a spray pattern with smaller droplets.
Step 3: Choose and prepare your lawn dressing
The next step is to decide what form of dressing you’re going to use to level out your lawn. You have two main choices: simple sand, or a sand and soil mix.
If you don’t already have sandy soil, and don’t have any bare patches to worry about, sand can work very well. It’s easy to use, will attach itself to clay soils, and will help with drainage. But too much can dry out your lawn, as water will drain straight through. So don’t use it if your soil is already sandy.
If you’re going to use sand, make sure you use the right type. below YouTube video from Premier Lawns shows USGA sand being used to level a lawn. It also explains the properties to look for in the sand you use for lawn levelling.
But if you’re going to need to overseed your lawn to fill bare patches, choose a sand-soil mix. That will provide the new grass seeds with the nutrients they need to grow.
You can buy lawn dressing already mixed, or mix it yourself. If you’re going to need large quantities, the DIY approach can be more economical.
To make your own mixture, use two parts sand, two parts topsoil, and one part compost. As with sand-only approaches, USGA sand is the best – but it is expensive. Whatever type you use, make sure it’s lime-free.
Pro tip: If you’re mixing larger quantities, do it in a wheelbarrow. That will allow you to transport it straight to where it’s needed.
Step 4: Tackling minor hollows
For any hollows that are less than 2 centimetres deep, simply fill them with your lawn dressing. Sprinkle it over the area and brush it into place with a garden rake.
Now press it firmly into place using the straight side of your rake. Give the soil a light watering. This will also help to remove air pockets.
If there is grass in the hollow already, leave the tips poking through the dressing. If there isn’t, leave the dressing for a few days. Then shake over grass seed at the density recommended on the packaging. Sprinkle with a little more topsoil and use the palm of your hand to pat it gently into place.
Pro tip: If it doesn’t rain, new grass seed will benefit from a gentle spray of water a few times a day.
Step 5: Tackling bigger lumps and bumps
if you’ve got a larger hollow or mound to address, you’ll need to do a bit of extra preparation.
Take your shovel and cut into the centre of the uneven area, down to a depth of about 5 centimetres. Then make a second cut at right angles to the first, so you have a cross shape.
Now slide your shovel under each quarter of the cross. Keep it as flat as you can, and gently fold back the edges of the turf. You want to be able to fold these back into place when you’ve dealt with your hollow or mound.
If it’s a bump you’re dealing with, now’s the time to dig out the excess soil. Then tread it over so it’s firm, and fold the turf back into place on top.
If the area is too low, fork it over to a depth of about 5 centimetres. Remove any large stones or roots as you go. Now trample over the area so that the soil is firm.
Add your lawn dressing, so that it’s level with the surrounding area. Give it a rake, so that the surface is even, then fold the turf back into place. Press it down firmly, working from the outer edges to the centre.
Fill any gaps between the cuts with more lawn dressing. You can also sprinkle more grass seed there to help the edges green over again.
Pro tip: Make sure that the soil is moist before folding back the turf. That will avoid it crumbling as you move it.
Choose the right time of year to level your lawn
- Like most jobs in the garden, choosing the right season to level your lawn will give you the best chance of success. You want the ground to be moist enough to allow additional lawn dressing to settle into place. And you want enough warmth for new grass seed to germinate.
- This makes spring or early autumn the perfect time of year for lawn levelling. If you have a particularly dry spell, you may need to give new grass a helping hand by watering it.
Scarify your lawn before levelling
- For the best possible results, remove thatch and moss from your lawn before levelling it off. You can do this with a mechanical scarifier or, if you have the energy, a wire toothed rake.
You can tackle very small bumps easily
- If you’ve got tiny bumps – less than two centimetres high – you may be able to flatten them without any equipment at all. Just pick a spring day when the ground is soft, and trample on the bump until it’s flat.
- If trampling doesn’t work, a water-filled garden roller may do the trick. Fill it with water to about a third of its capacity, then roll over the bump. You can gradually add more water if you need extra weight to do the job.
Choose a lawn dressing formula that will suit your soil
- Whether you’re buying your lawn dressing ready-made, or mixing your own, make sure it will suit the conditions in your garden.
- The three key ingredients are sharp sand, topsoil and compost. Change the proportions according to your soil type. If you have clay soil, reduce the amount of topsoil. If your soil is sandy, use more topsoil.
- Make sure all your ingredients are dry and finely sifted. You don’t want any clumps bigger than half a centimetre or so.
- It’s a good idea to give your levelled lawn a water, then check how it’s coming on a couple of days later. That time will give your lawn dressing a chance to settle. If any lumps or bumps reappear, you can get rid of them by lightly raking over the area.
Ready to level your lawn?
We hope you now feel ready to level your lawn!
Cut the grass, remove any thatch and moisten the ground before you get started. Make sure you use the right lawn dressing for your soil type. Take your time to tackle lumps and hollows, both small and large. And check over the results after a couple of days, so you can make any necessary adjustments.
We’d love to hear how you get on! If you have any questions, please comment and share them with us.