How to Level Uneven Lawn Without Killing Grass
No matter how much effort you put in to make your lawn even, some areas can become uneven over time—most likely due to ground settling, water logging, and heavy foot traffic. Other factors such as roots, pests, and animals can also disturb your lawn's surface.
It can feel tempting to just let it be, but the bumps and deep depressions on your lawn not only look unsightly but can also be a safety hazard. It also makes it more difficult to mow your lawn. In this article, we’ll look into the common reasons for an uneven lawn, its potential risks, and the steps you can take to level the ground.
What Causes An Uneven Lawn?
Soil naturally settles over time due to soil erosion or compaction. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen evenly across the surface, resulting in dips, mounds, and other irregularities. Tree roots and anything solid buried underneath can also cause bumps on the surface as the soil becomes more compact.
Human and Pet Activity
The repeated pressure from pets and humans walking or running can compress the soil over time. This compaction is even more pronounced in high-traffic areas, which leads to dips and channels in the lawn.
Pests and Wildlife
From ants building their hills to wildlife foraging for food, there are many ways in which pests and animals can disturb your perfectly level lawn. Even your pet dogs may have a natural digging behavior which further adds to the problem.
In some cases, there may be underlying issues that can also affect the quality of your turf. Poor drainage systems, for example, can cause waterlogging. When left unaddressed, it can lead to root damage, poor aeration, and nutrient deficiencies, resulting in uneven growth. Standing water can also saturate the soil with water, leading to soil compression and, thus, an uneven lawn.
The Problems With Uneven Lawn
Besides looking unattractive, uneven lawns are difficult to mow, sometimes leading to more serious issues.
An uneven yard can result in poor drainage, which is often the underlying issue of many other problems in your property. The consistent presence of water in your yard could alter the soil structure, damage your plants, and, worse, provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other pests, which are a health risk.
Besides attracting mosquitoes and pests, water accumulation creates a humid and damp environment where fungi may thrive. The proliferation of various fungi can cause fungal infections and molds in your lawn, manifesting in yellowing or dying patches of grass or bare spots.
If the water that collects in your uneven lawn flows toward your home, you also risk damaging its structural integrity. Continuous exposure to moisture can wear down the foundation, leading to wood rot and, eventually, leakage into your house.
The steep slopes, sudden elevation changes, and uneven surfaces can make it challenging to maneuver the mower. These inconsistencies can also affect the quality of the mow and may result in uneven grass lengths across the entire yard.
An uneven lawn becomes a trip hazard for everyone, including children and pets. Bumps and low spots are potential tripping hazards, increasing the risk of severe injuries like ankle sprains.
How to Level a Lawn Without Killing Grass
Lawn leveling can give your yard a brand-new look while resolving the many issues that come with it. Your approach to leveling your lawn depends mainly on the severity of the unevenness—but for slight irregularities such as tiny bumps and depressions that don’t run too deep, applying lawn top dressing soil mix should do the trick.
Prepare Your Lawn for Leveling
Before leveling, run your mower across the entire yard at a lower setting than usual to give you a better look at the contours of the lawn. Remove any debris, rocks, or large objects that may obstruct the leveling process. If your lawn has a thatch layer—a dense layer of dead grass and roots—consider removing them as well.
Aerate the soil to help improve drainage and allow the leveling materials to penetrate better. Water the lawn at least a day before leveling to make it more pliable and easier to work with.
Mix Your Top Dressing
A good leveling mix usually consists of equal parts topsoil and sand with some organic matter. Adding sand into the topsoil mix helps improve your soil's drainage, while the compost adds nutrients to your lawn. Using a lawn leveling rake or a push broom, evenly spread your soil mix over the uneven areas of your lawn. Make sure to fill sunken areas.
Repair Severely Uneven Lawn
For particularly deep and wide holes covered with healthy grass, scrape off a patch at least 2 inches deep to keep the roots intact. Set it aside, add the soil mix into the hole, and place the grass patch back on the leveled ground. This technique, known as sweeping under the carpet, is a great way to level your lawn without killing the grass.
Level Bumpy Lawn
Repairing a bumpy lawn is easier—simply remove excess soil to level it with the surrounding area.
Water Your Lawn
Finally, water the soil lightly and compact it to remove air pockets. Optionally, you can also use a lawn roller to further aid compaction while keeping the grass intact. This will help the soil mixture settle, prevent future settling, and promote grass growth.
Lawn Leveling & Patching With Grass Sod
In cases where your existing grass sustains damage from leveling your lawn, consider replacing it with new sod patches. A key advantage to using sod is that it instantly covers your turf with mature grass. It only takes 2-3 weeks to re-establish its roots, as opposed to using grass seed and going through the seed germination process, which can take up to an entire season to grow. It also helps prevent soil erosion by acting like a carpet that keeps the soil in place.
You can also use grass plugs to fill low spots or small bare patches in an uneven lawn. These plugs already have an established root, and the idea is that you plant them into the ground at least 9-18 inches apart and then wait for them to adapt to the new environment, grow, and spread.
Fertilize and water the grass sod as necessary, and avoid heavy foot traffic until it has re-established its root system. Regular lawn maintenance practices such as aerating the soil, topdressing, and laying sod to patch sparse areas can help improve your soil structure and maintain a level yard in the long term.
Try SodPods® at Bethel Farms
At Bethel Farms, we offer a wide range of warm-season grass varieties that are available as sod pallets and SodPods® grass plugs. Our lawn improvement solutions are designed to provide maximum success—they consist of mature grass blades with an established root system that allows them to adapt wonderfully to your yard and with less risk for planting shock.
Shop for sod at Bethel Farms. Visit our website today!