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How to level your lawn

Don’t you just hate a wobbly garden table or when rain creates a pool turning it into a swamp? A lumpy, bumpy, sloping lawn can be frustrating for many reasons. But you don’t have to put up with it.

If you want to lay decking, ensure the kids play safely, make your garden look tidy, or make mowing easier, you need an even lawn. And we’re here to help you get it.

This step-by-step guide shows you how to level a lawn by hand to get rid of dips, bumps and slopes. It covers the tools and materials you’ll need and gives instructions and advice on how to do it.

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Tools and equipment you need to level your lawn

Before you get started, make sure you’ve got everything you’ll need ready.



Step-by-step guide

Step 1: Preparation

The best time to level your lawn is in the spring. Gather your supplies but keep an eye on the weather forecast. It’s best to avoid rain, but starting  a couple of days after rainfall is fine.

Step 2: Mow the lawn

You’ll need your grass to be short, so you can clearly see where all the lumps and bumps are. So, mow it on the lowest blade setting and remove all the clippings.

Step 3: Dethatch the grass

Your lawn will have a mix of dead and living plant material at the base of the grass. A little of this benefit the grass’s health, but too much can cause problems. So, thoroughly rake the grass over to remove excess thatch and clear the debris.

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Step 4: Mix your materials

Here, you’ll need your topsoil, sand, and compost to make a levelling mixture. Mix two parts topsoil, two parts sand and one part compost (2:2:1). So, for example, 20kg of topsoil, 20kg of sand and 10kg of compost.

Step 5: Level small (1-2cm) dips

For dips that are 1-2cm deep, apply a layer of the levelling mixture directly on top of the grass as follows:

  • Apply the levelling mixture to the dip using a shovel.
  • Smooth it out using the back of your soil rake.
  • Compact the levelling mix with your feet.
  • Repeat adding the mixture, levelling, and compacting until the dip is gone.
  • Leave it to settle for a few days. If the weather is dry, water the patch. And if it sinks, add more levelling mixture, levelling and compacting as you go.
  • Spread an even layer of grass seed over the area, along with a light scattering of levelling mixture and pat it down gently.
  • Water the grass seed four times a day for the first two days using a watering can with a fine spray. Then, water once per day after the shoots have sprouted.

Step 6: Level deeper (2-3cm) dips

For dips that are 2-3cm deep, add the levelling mixture underneath the turf as follows:

  • Water the area a few hours in advance so the turf doesn’t break apart when you try to lift it.
  • Using your shovel, cut a 4-5cm deep cross into the grass over the dip and slightly beyond.
  • Work the shovel into each side of the cut and under the grassroots to lift the turf. But don’t cut it off completely; just create a flap and pull it back.
  • Using a garden fork, dig over the soil you’ve revealed and remove any stones.
  • Add the levelling mixture to the exposed soil using a shovel, then compact it using your feet. Water the area to remove air pockets and add more mixture as needed.
  • Smooth the levelling mixture out using the back of your soil rake.
  • Roll the turf back into place, starting with the outer edges and work your way into the centre.
  • Fill the cut marks with the levelling mixture and a bit of grass seed.
  • Water it four times a day for the first two days using a watering can with a fine spray. Then, water once per day after the shoots have sprouted.

Step 7: Level raised lumps

For areas that are raised rather than dipped, you’ll need to remove excess soil from underneath the turf as follows:

  • Follow the same process as in step 6 to lift the turf.
  • Remove the excess soil and any stones, then flatten the ground with your feet.
  • Replace the turf and scatter some grass seed into the cut marks as described in step 6.

How to level a sloping lawn

To level a slope, you’ll need to reinforce the lowest end of the lawn before adding levelling mixture.

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In addition to the tools and materials listed in the section above, you’ll need the following:

How to raise the level of a lawn:

Place the short wooden stake at the top of the slope and the long stake at the bottom. Then tie a piece of string (don’t let it sag) between the stakes, using your spirit or laser level to ensure it’s flat.

Reinforce the lower end of the lawn using wooden sleepers or timber. Build them up to the height of the highest level of the garden to stop the levelling mixture from sliding down the slope. Then fill out the soil using the string as a guide.

Safety first

Don’t forget, when you’re doing any gardening task, always take safety measures. Always use gloves and safety glasses and keep tools out of the way. And keep children and pets away from the area.

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An uneven lawn can be levelled out in two ways: by adding a levelling mixture to dips or by removing excess soil from raised lumps. Follow the step-by-step instructions above.

Yes, you can. Follow the step-by-step instructions outlined above. But, if you’re not confident or the job is too big, hire a professional to do it for you.

Small bumps can often be flattened by treading them down when the grass is moist. Larger lumps can be removed by pulling back the turf and removing excess soil.