How to Level a Yard Correctly in 3 Steps

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If you have an uneven, bumping, or sloping yard, you have probably experienced problems with water drainage when it rains and difficulty in mowing. Plus it’s difficult to enjoy a lawn that’s full of bumps and holes. Learn how to level a yard in 3 simple steps to counteract all these problems. The methods depend on whether you have bare dirt, seeded grass, or a well-established lawn.

Discover Uneven Spots

The first step in how to level a yard is to find out where the problem spots or areas are. Unless you are hiring someone with construction equipment, you can use the following methods.

1. Take a Walk

The simplest way to find bumps and divets is to walk carefully over every part of your yard and feel where they are. Stick a small flag in the trouble spots. Visual checks work on bare yards before any seeding takes place. For lawns, mowed grass fills in the appearance of low areas.

2. Use a String or Cord

In relatively small properties, using a string or cord stretched across the yard can make it easier to notice the disparities in ground height. If your yard is large, section it into quadrants. Mark all problem spots with small flags or other indicators.

3. Long Levels Can Help

When it comes down to figuring out what to do with the spots you marked, bring out a long level tool. By keeping the floating bubble in between the marked lines, you can determine precisely how much difference is between the existing yard surface and the correct one.

Bare Dirt Yard Leveling Methods

It is easier to level a yard before any planting occurs. Break out your shovels and hard-headed rakes for this job.

1. Get Dirt to Smooth Things Out

If the yard you want to smooth out is very bumpy, you could use existing dirt to smooth things over.

Another option is to have a truckload, or less of dirt delivered and dumped. For yards with only a few bumps and valleys, this might result in the entire yard being too high, which can contribute to water run-off toward the house.

2. Shovel or Rake Work

Dig out or scrape off upper parts of the yard and move the dirt to the low places. If you have dirt delivered or bring some from another part of the property entirely, use a hard-headed rake to smooth it out to create a level surface.

3. Create a Solid Yard

No matter which way you move or add dirt, you need to tamp it down and make it as firm as the rest of your lawn. If you skip this step in how to level a yard, the new dirt will shift or sink to cause the same problem as before.

Three methods exist for tamping down the soil after you spread it appropriately. First, you can hire someone to roll over it with the garden version of a steamroller. Second, you can buy or rent a roller yourself. These are usually filled with water or sand and can be hand-propelled or dragged behind a lawn tractor. Third, tamping down the dirt with a hand tool or even large boots can work for small yards.

Established Lawn Leveling Methods

For properties with existing lawns, leveling the yard takes more precision effort. The identification of problem areas and the idea of adding or subtracting dirt remain the same. Before starting either method, cut your grass neatly and dethatch the soil beneath.

1. Make a Soil Mix

Although the dirt you use to build up low parts of your yard depends somewhat on the native soil in your area, it is generally a good idea to use a mixture of soil and sand. When deciding how to level a yard the right way, take some time to figure out the best soil for your grass type and region.

In many parts of the country, lawns have a high clay content, which makes water drainage difficult. This can lead to puddles forming or runoff that disturbs gardens, play areas, or the foundation of the house. Partial sand incorporated more easily into the existing dirt layer and promoted a healthy lawn.

2. Layer Methods to Build Up Low Parts

For shall depressions, layer the soil mixture over the existing grass and rake or brush it smooth. A sturdy push broom makes the job simple. Please make sure the grass sticks out of the dirt, or it will die from lack of sunlight. Watering the area afterward can help the dirt settle. This may take multiple applications to build up sufficiently over time.

3. Get Under the Grass for Specific Problems

For bumps and more severe depressions in the lawn, you need to take a more direct approach in how to level a yard correctly. Grab a straight-edge spade or edger from your garden or tool shed.

Wherever the problems exist, carefully remove the grass or sod layer from the lawn. You can cut an X over the spot and peel back the corners or slide the spade under and move the chunks of grass to the side for now.

For low areas, add enough topsoil and sand mixture to build it up. For high regions, scrape off enough dirt to bring it level again. Replace the grass, tamp it down, and water.

Final Thoughts on How to Level a Yard

A level yard and lawn contributes to the overall enjoyment of your front and backyard space, how your property looks, and correct water drainage. No one wants to fall in holes or trip over bumps when playing in the back with the kids. No one wants rainwater to flow toward the house instead of away. Follow these steps to learn how to level a yard the right way for any situation.

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Jonathan E. Bass

Graduated from Middle Tennessee State University. I am currently a gardener. I have a small garden behind my house. I love it.

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