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Will a Lawn Level Itself? DIY Yard Grading Tips

Eliminating irregularities in lawn height is one of the most fundamental tasks for a home lawn care. 

A lawn that is not leveled may have areas with too much or too little water. 

Raised areas of the lawn will dry out faster than the lower ones and eventually turn brown. 

Lower patches of the lawn can be flooded and drown, turning them into a quagmire that you cannot walk on. 

The lawn is not self-leveling, and the longer you wait to fix it up, the more damage will be done. Over time, pests, heavy rain, decaying matter, poor soil quality, excessive foot traffic and other hazards will keep the lawn from self-correcting. 

Read More: Can Lawn Rust Cause Allergies?

So if you want a lawn that is even and green, you need to learn how to level it. 

Read on to find out how to get your uneven lawn back into good shape before winter rolls around!

Does a lawn have to be level?

A lawn does not have to be perfectly level, but it looks nicer with a uniformed grade. 

With any project or planting, a uniform grade will help make sidewalks, driveways, pools and patios more consistent. 

Related: Should Sidewalk Be Higher Than Lawn? 

Otherwise, muddy areas will develop faster and become a bigger problem to fix. Without a uniform grade, one part of the yard might look dry and the other wet, messy or waste water. 

During routine lawn maintenance like lawn mowing, watering and fertilizing at different zones can also cause uneven growing conditions. 

Read More: Overseeded Lawn Not Growing: Causes & How to Fix Them

It also could cause uneven spending of money depending on where you do those activities or plant your plants.

Will a lawn level itself?

Over time, the reasons why a lawn will not level itself are similar to other “invisible” problems. 

DIY Shed AsktheBuilder How To Level...
DIY Shed AsktheBuilder How To Level Ground

It is possible that soil erosion occurs when there is too much water at one time, such as during heavy rain or severe drought. 

Some plants and trees on your property can cause additional problems like over-abundance of decaying leaves or branches. 

If you don’t keep up with grass mowing, weeds can grow uncontrollably and take over the property. 

Natural settling of the soil can also occur because of heavy rain, wind, or drought conditions thereby shrinking or expanding the lawn soil. 

Pests such as voles, termites, ants and other insects can cause tunnels to develop and soil to weaken, leading to the collapse of the natural level of your lawn and soil, or rolling out of a leveling process. 

So, if none of these conditions exist, then yes, your lawn will level itself if left alone, which is far from likely.

Why would a lawn need a slope?

Slope of a residential yard, especially one that has grass, can be very important to several reasons:

  • improve surface drainage
  • ease walkability
  • enhance aesthetics/aesthetics
  • boost grass growth
  • ensure water infiltration
  • protect water-sensitive materials
  • allow higher mulching rate
  • reduce evaporation
  • minimize freeze-thaw damage
  • minimize soil erosion
  • reduce runoff erosion
  • minimize soil compaction
  • reduce surface crusting

The slope can help to improve these things because of decreasing amounts of water that have the potential to build up and cause damage. 

Although drainage is dependent on properties of soil, as well as the amount of subsurface materials, surface drainage depends on the angle of slope. 

Ideally, a slope should be greater than 2% to 5% because this will help to keep water from pooling in low-lying areas. 

Due to different properties of soils, drainage can differ and cause problems. 

If a slope is too flat then it may collect puddles or wet areas that can still be vulnerable to damage by a hose or local flooding.

Why does my lawn look like it’s sinking in certain parts? 

This is one of the most common questions regarding landscapes. 

Although there are many possible causes and solutions, the simplest explanation usually involves some form of soil depletion

When a lawn subsides, it leaves behind less soil to support growth, so it creates a visible difference in appearance. 

This could also be caused by soil erosion after excess rainfall

When the uppermost layer of soil becomes so compacted that it cannot act as a proper drainage layer, then water will collect at the surface and begin to erode away. 

It would be helpful if you could improve the quality of your lawn soil because this will help to prevent future problems. 

Other factors that could cause a lawn depression problem include:

  • lack of proper fertilization
  • lack of proper watering and fertilization schedule
  • heavy traffic and animal walks
  • heavy lawn equipment operation
  • poor soil quality and structure
  • lack of trees and shrubs
  • lack of proper mowing height
  • improper placement of grass clippings in the lawn
  • lack of or poor grading and aeration
  • presence of dirt, rocks and debris on the surface

Why do farmers level the field before sowing?

Farmers often level the field to prepare for the next planting. 

By leveling a field, you allow air and water to penetrate into the soil, allowing more sunlight to reach plant roots and helping improve growth. 

For this reason, young seedlings require a level field to ensure a full, flourishing growth cycle. It is an efficient way to prepare the soil for planting and allows to:

  • control pests and diseases
  • evenly distribute fertilizer
  • loosen compacted soil
  • prevent weeds
  • encourage germination
  • manage water
  • protect soil from erosion
  • improve seed-to-soil contact
  • optimize plant density

When should I level my lawn?

The best times to level your lawn are in spring

Warm-season grass requires more water when it’s actively growing and these are the best times to adjust your watering schedule accordingly. 

If you try to level your lawn in the summer, when grass is less dormant, parts of your lawn will end up dying off. 

With the ground much harder and the grass in decline, leveling your lawn will be far more stressful and damaging to your lawn. 

However, if you want to avert soil erosion or drainage issues during the rainy season, dry season leveling of the lawn can be beneficial because it will leave the soil damp and in the right conditions to be disturbed and worked. 

Just be aware that you will have to water more often in the summer.

If you try to level your residential lawn in winter, the ground will be frozen and it will be even more difficult to adjust the grade.

Special equipment, high level of effort and expertise may be needed, as well as special care when removing a lawn slope in the wintertime especially on agricultural property.

How much does it cost to level a lawn?

Depending on the size of your lawn and the type of project, there will be a range of costs associated with leveling it. 

The leveler and leveling materials can come in a variety of different forms, such as rollers and treads, rotary tillers and shovels, hydraulic lifts and compactors. 

In this sense, you have to determine if you want a one-time purchase or going for a rental program that might save you money over time. 

Some contractors will ask for up front payment or monthly payments for work on your lawn. 

According to Homeguide.com, the average cost to level a lawn is $500 to $5000 and this figure can vary depending on the size of the project, slope and soil type.

How to raise grass level

If a small space such as a shady corner of the yard is sunken or otherwise uneven, then you can use grass plugs to repair the situation. 

If this is caused by tree roots, then removing them will help to remedy the problem. 

You’ll need to maintain a watering schedule in order to ensure that it takes root and grows properly. 

Be sure to wait a few weeks for the new grass to settle before mowing, cutting or other lawn maintenance. 

If the sunken spot problem is caused by soggy soil, then adding more soil will help to solve it. 

The other thing you can do is to fill small animal holes with topsoil

Use your garden rake to level it out in a thin layer and you can plant grass seed over this. 

Read More: How Many Bales of Straw to Cover Grass Seed?

Sod is also another option installed as a lawn patch in the affected area without killing the grass.

Can I use compost to level the lawn?

The best way to use compost on your bumpy lawn is to incorporate it into the general soil. 

Related: Why Is My Compost Going Green?

Also: Why Are Compost Bins Black?

This will help with aeration and drainage, as well as increase the overall health of your lawn. 

However, you’ll need to make sure that the compost and lawn soil are thoroughly mixed together. 40% sand, 40% topsoil, and 20% compost is a good ratio to use and you can apply it to the soil with a standard tiller or rotary tiller. 

It is recommended to top dress the soil with compost to provide a variety of nutrients. 

Read More: Can I Use Aquatic Compost for Normal Plants?,

You may like: Can Ivy Be Composted?

Because lawns are generally shallow, it is best to spread compost material over a large area unless you’re trying to raise a patch of grass. 

When adding compost to your lawn, you should:

  • work it into the soil
  • ensure that it covers the entire area
  • focus on areas of poor growth and low fertility
  • avoid putting too much in one place
  • test your lawn soil to see if the pH level is appropriate for compost

Does scarifying level the lawn?

Scarification refers to the process of removing thatch, moss, and weeds from the lawn without digging. 

You can do this by dethatching, removing debris and other organic matter using a scarifier, so it’s not the same thing as leveling. 

Although the undergrowth in your lawn can give it an uneven appearance, it’s usually not a problem unless you leave it untreated. 

Thatch is a layer of dead grass roots and stems that accumulates at the base of your grass. 

It builds up over time, but once you remove it, your grass will look thicker and healthier. 

As an alternative to scarification, consider using a rake to brush the soil surface, breaking up the thatch and reducing the risk of your grass dying under it.

Tips for keeping your lawn evenly mowed

Even mowing is, again, one of the easiest and most effective ways to keep your lawn healthy. The best way to achieve even mowing is by:

  • set push-mower at the highest setting
  • maintain a 3-inch grass canopy on all areas
  • sharpen your blades at least once every four mows
  • maintain a constant height of cut for all areas
  • lubricate wheels
  • fix loose, bent or dull mower blade
  • check wheel alignment
  • repair bent crankshaft

Conclusion

If you have a yard that needs leveling, consider hiring a professional landscaper instead of trying to do it yourself. 

Lawns take work and patience, but when done right, they look amazing. 

Plus, you won’t have to worry about damaging your grass or plants, which means you can enjoy your new landscape without worrying about any potential damage.

It’s also important to remember that there isn’t just one way to care for your lawn. 

There are many different methods available to you depending on what type of lawn you have and how often you want to take care of it. 

Regardless of which method you choose, be sure to follow the instructions carefully and pay attention to any changes in your lawn.

References

https://www.bobvila.com/articles/how-to-level-a-yard/

https://www.thisoldhouse.com/lawns/reviews/yard-grading

https://homeguide.com/costs/cost-to-level-or-regrade-yard

https://www.thespruce.com/level-your-lawn-out-by-topdressing-2132666

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8FdaT8e3Qw