How to level an uneven garden or lawn like a pro

Ever had to deal with a garden or lawn that was uneven? 

It’s not just frustrating, it can also be dangerous for the people who have to walk on, especially if they are of older age.

It’s also annoying having an uneven garden because it limits the types of plants that you can put in there.

There are many different pieces of information on the web that explain some of the best ways to level an uneven surface…

We have collated them all together and put them into an article that is easy to digest and simple enough to implement!

Levelling an uneven garden or lawn is not difficult at all and this article will show you how to do it with some very simple tips!

grass blades

Table of Contents

Two methods to level a bumpy lawn or a garden

Method 1: Patching up

Summary: Fill in the raised areas and chop off the peaks with a shovel. Then add additional grass seed to level the surface.

Best for: for moderately uneven lawn with a few low and high spots.

Works for: levels areas less than 50mm depth and 0.5m wide

Usual cost per square meter: £4

Difficulty: Straight forward.

Method 2: start from scratch

Summary: rotivate the whole area, and then cover with turf. 

Best for: anything that doesn’t work for Method 1

Works for: most uneven lawns and gardens

Usual cost per square meter: £13-£15

Difficulty: moderate

severely uneven lawn

Guide to levelling an uneven lawn or garden

In order to flatten an uneven surface, you need to determine which of the 2 methods would be most effective. If your area has only a small amount of dips and mounts, then Method one may work best for you.

If the problems are more serious than that then it’s likely you will need to use Method 2. It also practically guarantees good results whereas Method 1 can sometimes have disappointing outcomes.

Want a great way to make your garden more functional? If you’re having trouble with poor drainage, levelling the ground can be an excellent opportunity to solve this problem.

Method 1: Patching up - Expanded

This method is often referred to as the patch-up because most of the lawn or garden is in decent condition or relatively flat.

Step 1: start by removing the high points or hard lumps.

To start, find out where you want your own lawn to be level and pick that spot. 

Next, take a spade and dig up the bare spots around it as well as other points which are higher than the desired height of your lawn.

Don’t be afraid to go slightly below the surface where you want to end up. The next stage will fill in any holes that are created.

nutrient rich soil

Step 2: use topsoil to level the ground

Add some good-quality topsoil to any areas that are too shallow. This simple calculator will tell you how much topsoil is and what it could cost.

To provide a stable foundation for your new garden, it’s best to have at least 3-5 cm of soil on top before you start compacting.

To ensure that the area is sturdy and made up enough ground coverings so weeds don’t grow through, add some more dirt or sand in layers no thicker than 5cm each time until there are many centimetres worth of depth all around as well as height from the surface level.

Afterwards, be sure to lightly compact the topsoil with your foot when finished compressing lightly.

Add a little more loose soil to the top again. This loose soil should now be finely levelled.

A levelling rake is a great tool for levelling the soil. Try raking first in one direction, then again in adjacent directions to see any dips at ground level.

When the soil looks level enough to the naked eye, it’s time to move on to the next step.

Wolf-Garten UHM Multi-Change Longspan Rake

Spear & Jackson 2145NS Select Carbon Steel Soil Rake

Step 3: spreading seed over the area

Grass seed is an important step to ensure the uneven ground becomes level, so make sure you choose a good quality grass specimen.

We recommend applying around 50 g per square metre initially. For large areas, you should use a lawn seed spreader, or for smaller areas, a handheld grass seed spreader will be more appropriate.

Scotts Whirl Hand-Powered Spreader

Einhell GE-US 18 Li-Solo Power Spreader

After you sprinkle the grass seed, use a roller to lightly pack down. Be gentle and don’t press too hard as this could prevent the seed from being able to grow roots.

After the initial light compaction of dirt in the grass, add an additional 30 grams or so of lawn seed per square meter.

For best results, water your existing grass immediately after planting. Follow any guidance from the seed manufacturer for caring for your new lawn or garden bed.

Expert Tip: there are many types of grass and different types of seed mix can be found. If you know what your lawn was originally seeded with, try to find a grass type that is similar so it can hopefully grow better again.

If you have no idea what to plant, then purchase an all-purpose mix.

Method 2: Start from scratch - Expanded

If your lawn is too uneven for the methods we have described above, or you just want guaranteed results, this option is for you.

soil mix

Step 1: remove rocks and other debris

In this process, sticks and stones within the lawn will be embedded below the new surface. To ensure a flat surface on which to enjoy your new garden or lawn, it is important to remove any objects that are sticking out.

Clear debris, rocks and level clay if you have clay soil.

Dispose of these and continue to the next step.

Expert Tip: You will need to remove existing weeds and anything that has been rooted in the soil beforehand. Anything left behind and the ability to grow up through the new lawn.

It is important to eradicate unwanted weeds before you level the ground, removing the top 50mm and disposing of it is your best option.

Step 2: use a rotavator to churn and mix the soil

You should turn the current garden or lawn up while it is soft and malleable to make it easier to level. When the soil is too wet, try not to work with it because you will have a hard time moving around the soaked soil.

Use a rotavator, which you can hire for around £40 in the UK. Safety instructions are important: follow them when using the rotavator on your lawn or garden.

grass seeds

Step 3: add or remove soil where applicable

Alter your soil or turf to ensure your garden or lawn stays at an even height.

You’ll want to bring in some topsoil so that your new lawn has the fertile base it needs.

Compress the top 3 to 5 centimetres of soil by pushing down on it with your fist, then piling more soil that you have removed (along with debris like stones) up to around the edges of the lawn.

Expert Tip: If your garden or lawn has an uneven surface, a good way to level it is by adding sand. To do this, you must first rotavate the ground and then add about 1 to 2 cm of sand to the top layer before planting new grass seed.

adding sand

Step 4: level the garden or lawn

Alter your soil or turf to ensure your garden or lawn stays at an even height.

You’ll want to bring in some topsoil so that your new lawn has the fertile base it needs.

Compress the top 3 to 5 centimetres of soil by pushing down on it with your fist, then piling more soil that you have removed (along with debris like stones) up to around the edges of the lawn.

Expert Tip: If your garden or lawn has an uneven surface, a good way to level it is by adding sand. To do this, you must first rotavate the ground and then add about 1 to 2 cm of sand to the top layer before planting new grass seed.

This step is the most important because it’s what you should be trying to achieve, so get it right at all costs.

There are two main ways to successfully level small areas of land, whether they be your garden or lawn.

The less accurate but cheap way 

The first step is to create a level line using string, which is laid on the ground in between two pegs and levelled with a spirit level. Short string lines that can be attached onto each other are useful for quick adjustments.

Divide the uneven space into 3 x 3m sections and create string lines to approximate the even level you want for your soil.

To level an uneven lawn or garden, start by following the string line around the area with your garden rake or spirit level.

Repeat this process until you have covered every inch of your garden or uneven lawn.

 

The professional way

one way to level an uneven garden or lawn is by purchasing a laser level and a laser receiver. These costly items are very accurate and can be used on any DIY project, indoors or outdoors.

Scotts Whirl Hand-Powered Spreader

FORAVER Rotary Red Beam Laser

Set up the laser level in one corner of your garden. Using a measuring tape and the laser receiver, measure how far you would like to have a surface level with what is below it.

Walk around the garden to ensure all surfaces are on a level plane.

Rake the soil to level out any bumps until it is smooth.

Step 5: turf

We are producing a guide on how to prepare the perfect lawn, but in the meantime, there are guides for laying turf online. You can even go onto Youtube and listen to professional advice on how to lay turn properly so that it will last.

We hope you found our guide on how to level gardens and lawns helpful. For further information on improving your garden, take a look around our website for landscaping work and gardening tips.

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