If you have a yard that is sloping, bumping, and overall uneven, the consequences can go much further than the fact it’s unpleasant to the eye. Proud yard owners enjoy their ritual of mowing (especially when neighbors are to see it), but if your yard is not properly leveled you’ll have much difficulty in keeping this ritual enjoyable. The uneven yard is not difficult only on your lawn mower, but on your ankles, too – it’s easy to twist them on a bumpy terrain and even fall, causing additional damage to your body. Furthermore, you’ll inevitably experience some problems with water drainage during the seasons with hard rain. The last, but not the least problem, is that you won’t be able to install desirable types of outdoor additions such as a trampoline or a patio. It would be a shame to deny your young ones some entertaining air acrobatics and even the most beautiful lawn doesn’t mean much if you can’t feast your eyes on it over the hot cup of morning coffee, comfortably seated in your rocking chair.
All the things mentioned above keep your yard far from enjoyable. But still, many people are reluctant to perform the leveling since they consider it to be a very difficult task. That’s why many of them delay the task until they end up wasting a substantial amount of money by calling experts. This is quite unnecessary since leveling is certainly not that difficult, and we’ve put together some tips to prove it.
1. Observation & Discovery
The first step begins with a stroll across your yard. Although it’s not a demanding physical activity, your eyes need to be sharp and on a lookout. The purpose of this walk is to find where the problem areas or spots lie. There’s no need to hire someone with construction equipment, you just need to upgrade your stroll with some easy methods. If you walk very carefully you will feel where the uneven spots are, so simply stick a small flag to mark them. Don’t rely solely on visual checks – they will work just fine on bare yards before any seeding has taken place, but on lawns, the mowed grass could fill in the appearance of low areas. Using a cord or string that you’ll stretch across the yard could make it even easier to notice the disparities in ground height. If you own a large yard the best way to go is to section it into quadrants. The last thing to do is to bring out your long level tools. You need to keep the floating bubble in between the marked lines and that way you’ll be able to precisely determine how much difference is between the correct yard surface and the existing one.
We have to pause a bit to break down the myth of the downward slope. While extremely sloping yard is a bad thing, you need to know that your yard should slope away from the house. This is what actually prevents unevenness and water accumulation during the rainy seasons. It creates a gradual slope of water that enables decent outflow from the yard, not disturbing the soil on top. So having a 3 to 4 inches downward slope at about every ten feet is highly recommendable.
2. A Complete Removal
This step can come after you tried the first one, or maybe doesn’t need to come at all. But if your yard is covered with old turf it’s highly likely to be full of unwanted plants and weeds, especially if you’ve been neglecting it for a long time. That means it should be completely removed, and the best way to do that is to uproot unwanted growth one by one. It’s a process that requires a lot of patience and it may take a while, but that doesn’t mean it’s unnecessary. If you do it right the new alien and unwanted plants will not grow again once the new grass is planted. Some people prefer to resort to the use of herbicides and soil solarization since these methods are more convenient, but they’re far from advisable.
3. Filling It Up
Be sure you’ll encounter some sudden depressions and gaps along the way, and you’ll need to fill them up. Simply dig the depression area or the gaps into one single ditch and fill it up afterward with gravel, coarse rocks, and finer soil on top. Don’t forget to level up the filled up area since your upper surface needs to merge properly with the rest of it. It’s recommendable to use an inclinometer, and also to re-level the entire area plenty of times. It is mandatory to make this area integrated and uniform with the rest of the yard.
It will be much easier to level a yard before any planting occurs, and if it’s very bumpy you could simply use the existing dirt to smooth things over. Depending on the number of bumps and valleys you could even have a truckload of dirt delivered and dumped, but keep in mind that this could make your entire yard too high and contribute to water run-off toward the house.
4. Spades, Shovels & Rakes
It’s time for the finishing touches before planting, so pick up your spades, shovels, and rakes. Using a rake can be pretty patience-testing, but it makes the slope and the leveling as even as possible. You simply need to scrape off or dig out the upper parts of your yard and move the dirt to the lower ones. When you dig up smaller bumps use the shovel and make sure you dig into on three sides and extract the dirt from underneath the sod. Remember to lay the sod back over the area to preserve the grass.
You need to tamp the dirt down and make it equally firm as the rest of your lawn. Don’t skip this step because the new dirt will sink or shift and cause the same problem as before. For this, you can hire someone who has the lawn roller or you could rent or buy it yourself. They can be dragged behind a lawn tractor or even hand-propelled. If your yard is a small one, tamping down the dirt with large boots will be sufficient.
First, let’s take a look at the case if you already have the established lawn. There is no planting step, but filling up step is a bit different. When it comes to shallow depressions, you’ll need to layer the soil over the existing grass and use a rake or a sturdy push broom to brush it smooth. You need to make sure that the grass sticks out of the dirt or otherwise it will die from the lack of sunlight. Building up the area sufficiently will require multiple applications and each of them needs a lot of water to help the dirt settle. The first step already demands a large amount of walking, and Hoselink will make the watering far less demanding for your already tired legs.
If you yet need to plant the turf, there are a few ways to do it. You could reseed the lawn or manually plant small turf saplings of the grass, but it’s quite a long process that requires an expert’s hand. If you have removed the old turf which is still in good shape, another option is to reuse it. And the third option is to simply use the sod carpet, which is a pretty inexpensive option to easily cover the whole yard. Once you plant the sod carpet its pieces will grow uniformly and evenly on their own. Just make sure you lay it down properly and evenly, and that you purchase all the pieces from the same batch, which have the same age.
There you have it – five steps, four if you already have an established lawn or if you’ve been careful with maintenance. You could look at the whole process as a nice outdoor workout, the first step being warming up, followed by a cardio and finishing with some real muscle work. Anyhow, you’ll enjoy your new even lawn much more if you do the work yourself.