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Best Way To Level A Lawn: Full How-To Guide

A patchy lawn in need of leveling and repair.

One of the most often asked topics about lawns is how to level them. It might seem that leveling a lawn is too tough of a chore to take on yourself. In truth, leveling a lawn is simple and does not have to be expensive. That said, what are some of the best steps to level a lawn?

  1. Begin by mowing the lawn.
  2. Examine the grassroots and dethatch as needed.
  3. Begin mixing topsoil, compost, and sand.
  4. Dig up sunken parts of the lawn and begin to fill.
  5. Spread the soil mixture to even out the entire lawn.
  6. Water the lawn.
  7. Finish off with a few touch-ups where needed.

It is not a challenging task to level a lawn. However, It’s challenging to appreciate a yard full of lumps and bumps, and energetic youngsters may fall over clumps of grass or turn their ankles in soil depressions, posing a safety risk. Furthermore, simply fixing the problem without treating the cause is often an overlooked issue. That said, let’s look at what you need to know about how to level your lawn.

Complete Guide To The Best Method To Level A Lawn

A yard with lumps and bumps is not only ugly, but it may also be a safety issue, causing:

  • trips
  • falls
  • sprained ankles

Of course, many things might cause an uneven yard, including:

  • drainage concerns
  • leaks in underground pipes
  • lawn pests like grubs or moles disrupt the root system

None of these problems need to derail your landscaping efforts completely.

Grading issues might potentially cause problems with a home’s foundation or basement. So before you start leveling your lawn’s surface, figure out what’s causing the problem so it doesn’t happen again. Then follow these procedures for leveling a yard to create the landscape you’ve always desired that is:

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  • smooth
  • lush
  • green

What Causes An Uneven Lawn?

The difficulty of the project is all determined by the problem. With that in mind, it’s not always a difficult task. For example, before you can fix bumps and unevenness, you must first figure out why they happened. Frequently, there is an underlying issue that has to be addressed.

To find a long-term solution, removing the cause must come before any corrections are made. For example, bumps and depressions can be caused by drainage issues and damaged water or irrigation lines that cause erosion.

If there are two to three low places in regions where water or drainage pipes may be present, you should investigate to ensure they are not leaking. If required, get advice from a professional. A variety of reasons cause lawns that are not level. That said, the following are some of the most common.

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#1: Sprinkler Systems

Since water lines are prone to break and the entire system requires frequent maintenance, a sprinkler system is a common source of erosion. Check that that the:

  • spray heads and rotors are functioning correctly and rising to the maximum height
  • that the nozzles are not blocked or broken
  • heads are not leaking

#2: Ground Settling

Another typical reason for a rough lawn is the ground settling, and depressions develop due to the settlement. It is nearly impossible to prevent and happens mainly when:

  • the grass is fresh
  • you’ve had yard work done
  • massive equipment installed

In cold-winter areas, freezing and thawing cycles can exacerbate this. These cycles can cause soil to heave, making it uneven and rough. Bumps emerge in the spring as clay soil thaws unevenly, making ripples in the grass like a bunched-up carpet.

A lawn with many mounds of mole-holes.
Moles or groundhogs can cause lawn bumps and damage

#3: Disease or Pest Problems

Another cause of lawn bumpiness is a thin lawn caused by a disease or insect infestation that weakens a section. It results in exposed soil areas and erosion and depressions in some places caused by:

  • rainfall
  • wind
  • activity

Bumps can also be caused by things such as:

  • buried construction waste (which should be removed)
  • people walking on excessively soft lawns (such as in the early spring or after heavy rains)
  • wild and domestic animals digging
  • burrowing creatures such as groundhogs or moles (must be removed or deterred)

Furthermore, ant mounds might generate noticeable lumps. Due to the presence of ants, these will be immediately obvious. For the most part, ants do not harm the grass and can even keep other pests in control, but they become a concern when they develop enormous mounds.

What Do You Need To Level Your Lawn?

Topdressing is the simplest and least time-consuming method of leveling up uneven lawns by applying:

  • a thin layer of leveling mix composed of soil
  • compost
  • sand

You’ll also need a list of tools to make the task go more smoothly, including: (I’ve linked to the products on Amazon where available)

Step By Step Guide To Leveling Your Lawn

Now that you have all the tools required and a more precise understanding of what may be causing the problem, it’s time to get to work. Leveling your lawn is typically not a difficult task and often requires repetition, depending on how much work is needed. So, starting with mowing the lawn, these steps will explain what you need to do.

Step #1: Begin By Mowing The Lawn

To begin, mow your grass. Cut it short but not all the way down to the dirt, if the grass blade stems are visible it could dry it out. Spring is the most incredible time to start repairs because the frosts have passed, and the grass is actively growing. It will give the grass seed time to establish itself while also settling the soil.

Step #2: Examine Grass Roots And Detach Thatch As Needed

Examine your grassroots closely to evaluate the quantity of thatch on your lawn. The layer of dead grass and other organic debris near the turf’s base is known as thatch. It’s okay to have 0.25 to 0.5 inches of thatch, but much more than that will hinder the grass from obtaining enough air and water.

Remove or significantly loosen any thatch greater than 0.5 inches thick by gradually pulling it up with a thatch rake. Alternatively, if your lawn is more extensive, use dethatching equipment. Both can be bought on Amazon. Dethatching equipment may be rented from a home improvement store and significantly speed up the process.

Step #3: Begin Mixing Top Soil, Compost, And Sand

To fill up the space beneath the grass in recessed portions of your lawn, in a top-dressing mix, combine:

  • two parts sand
  • two parts topsoil
  • one part compost

Since sand does not compress readily, it aids in the maintenance of a flat yard while the soil and compost provide the nutrients that the grass requires to grow.

A woman in overalls and rain boots digging up part of her grass with bags of soil leaning against the house in the background.
Dig up the sunken areas and rearrange them so the grass slopes away from the house

Step #4: Dig Up Sunken Parts Of The Lawn And Begin To Fill

It’s now time to dig up the grass in the lawn’s sunken areas and fill them with the soil mixture. Furthermore, if there are any low places or divots deeper than 2 or 3 inches, the grass on top of them should be removed before repairing the holes.

You can dig up the grassroots by putting the blade of a shovel into the sod at the edge of a low spot and sliding it down and under about two to three inches. Then, using the shovel, pry the grass up to reveal the ground beneath. Finally, fill the hole with the top-dressing mix and replace the grass on top.

Furthermore, If there are any low places around your house, repeat the technique to gently slope the dirt away from the foundation. First, dig up and rearrange the soil near the home to be higher but not so high that it covers the entire foundation. Then, for every foot away from the house, slant it down about 1 inch. If the whole yard slopes toward the home, you may want assistance in correctly grading.

Step #5: Spread The Soil Mixture To Even Out The Entire Lawn

Once the lowest places are covered, spread the top-dressing mix throughout the whole lawn with a shovel to a depth of 0.25 to 0.5 inches. If you think your grass needs more than that depth to even out, keep it thin – a heavier layer could choke it. If necessary, you can add a second layer by repeating the process (see Step 7).

Then, using the back of a bow rake, distribute the top-dressing mix evenly throughout the grass. Work the mixture into progressively low places and pockets when leveling the grass. If the mix fully covers the grass blades, the grass will suffocate from lack of light, so use a push broom to stir the mixture deeper into the soil at the base of the turfgrass to uncover the blades.

Step #6: Water Your Lawn

Water your lawn to assist the top-dressing mix to sink into the grass and fill any air pockets. Running lawn sprinklers will also help revive your lawn by accelerating the influx of nutrients from the compost.

Step #7: Finish Off With A Few Touch-Ups Where Needed

Look for water runoff or standing water in puddles after a few waterings. To thoroughly level out your grass, it may require more than one application of top-dressing.

Once you see the grass begin to grow actively, or when you can no longer see the initial top-dressing application you put down, apply the second layer by following Steps 5 and 6.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Worth Leveling Your Lawn?

Reasons to level your lawn could be of various motives. A level yard gives your outside landscaping solidity. It also helps avoid significant foundation damage and pricey repairs. Your grass should progressively slope away from your house to allow rainfall to drain away from your foundation.

Furthermore, leveling the ground facilitates easier lawn upkeep. The mower does not get stuck on bumps, and you can rake leaves more effortlessly. Finally, an even, lush lawn is attractive and easy to maintain, and leveling your grass can significantly increase curb appeal for potential buyers. Overall, whatever your reason, leveling your grass is worthwhile.

What Is The Best Budget-Friendly Way To Level A Lawn?

By raking some play sand into your yard and adding some soil from your own yard, you can level your yard for almost nothing on a budget. To begin, level any minor bumps (less than one inch) with your feet, ensuring that the ground is damp as you do so.

You may level animal holes by filling them with soil from your yard and then topping them off with topsoil. If the holes are tiny, the existing grass should grow over them; if they’re larger, sprinkle some grass seed and water.

Topdressing is the simplest solution for somewhat uneven regions that require additional attention. After mowing the grass, combine fine sand with compost from your yard at a 40 percent sand, 60 percent soil ratio, and evenly apply it to the low spots. If you don’t have a rake, use a household brush to work it into the grass, water it, and watch it. If necessary, repeat.

A hand sprinkling grass seeds on a bald patch on a lawn.
Sprinkle grass seed and water if there are larger holes that need filling

When Should I Grade My Yard?

Consider leveling your rear or front yard when:

  • water flows into the street or puddles
  • it appears unpleasant
  • it is hard to step or move over bumps and dips

The underlying cause of the bumps and low places plays a role in determining whether to level a yard.

Consider leveling and even adding a concrete walk before peak “club season” for the youngsters if the turf has compacted in parts due to foot activity, such as from daily treks to the treehouse. However, in most circumstances, the actions mentioned below are better completed in the spring.

Warm-season grass is only emerging from dormancy at this time. If the soil is still wet from snowmelt or spring showers, wait until it dries before proceeding with the methods below. Correct yard grading issues during dry weather, and then double-check your work after the following rain.


It’s a good and relatively straightforward activity to do in the spring once you’ve learned how to level a yard. Ground leveling may restore your lawn’s enjoyment and curb appeal while preventing water waste and house damage. Determine the source of the problem before taking the actions indicated above to address grass bumps and low patches.

Fix the slope if water is rushing toward your home’s foundation. Maintenance should be easy if your yard is leveled. Finally, you won’t need to employ an expensive expert now that you know how to level a lawn. Instead, you can quickly replace uneven grass ruts and indentations with a bit of time and effort.

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