How to Level a Bumpy Lawn + Best Equipment to Use

A bumpy lawn is hard to maintain, unsafe to walk on and altogether unsightly. Further, the depressions can cause drainage problems in your yard. Let’s look at why your lawn is bumpy and how to level to level it up.

After establishing why your lawn is uneven, use a roller to flatten small bumps on your lawn. For shallow depressions in your lawn, topdressing with soil-compost mix will solve the problem. Severe bumps and holes in your lawn can be fixed by removing the sod and filling the area with soil or re-grading the landscape.

Why is my lawn uneven?

To come up with a permanent solution for your bumpy lawn, you must first of all understand why it is appearing uneven. There is always an underlying cause. The following are main reasons why your lawn is bumpy:

Ground settling

Overtime the soil beneath your lawn settles and you may end up with depressions, hills and typically uneven lawn. This is likely to happen when the ground was not properly graded before starting a new lawn. Rains, freezing and thawing cycles highly contributes to this soil scenario.

Heavy traffic

Moving a heavy equipment across your lawn can leave its surface uneven. An example is when someone drives on a lawn, the vehicle tires are likely to create some deep depressions. Playing or walking on young or soft ground lawn will also result to this problem.

Animal activities

Both domestic and wild animals can dig up your lawn in search for grubs and other soil underlying insects, for shelter or for fun. Animals like dogs, ground hogs or moles can create holes in your lawn overnight and hips of soil. Ants also create underground nests covered with large mounds of soil. All these can make your lawn bumpy and uneven.

Pests and diseases

Pests and diseases causes thinning of grass in some spots of the lawn. Within no time, this will result to patches of bare spots in the affected areas. Water, winds and rain will erode the soil in such areas and overtime you will end up with dents and depressions in your lawn.

Decomposed roots

It is common to find large roots of trees in the soil especially when you are preparing the ground for a lawn. If you did not remove the roots, a time will come when they will start to decompose. This will be a big setback if your lawn is already established. Decomposing roots underground will leave a gap where soil will eventually sink in.

Thatch buildup

Thatch is a collection of plant materials, dead and alive lying at the base of grass plants, where stems meet roots and soil. Excess thatch greater than 3/4 inch is unhealthy to a lawn. It not only prevents important supplies (air, water and nutrients) to the grass roots but also makes a lawn bumpy and spongy.

How to Level a Bumpy Lawn

To level your lawn, you’ll need to use the right lawn leveling equipment and do it at a time when grass is actively growing. Spring is always the ideal time to carry out lawn repairs as the weather conditions are favorable for grass recovery and growth.

Depending with the nature of the bumps on your lawn, you’ll need one or two of the following lawn levelling equipment.

  • A lawn levelling rake
  • A lawn roller
  • A landscape rake
  • A shovel or hoe
  • A wheelbarrow
  • A grader tractor

Effective lawn levelling methods and steps

Before you get started, asses the nature of the bumps and unevenness in your lawn. If they are just small and few dents, then you can chose a less intensive approach like topdressing or rolling to flatten them. A severe case will need more aggressive approach such as removing the sod and re-grading.

Using a lawn roller

This approach applies to uneven lawn with moderate bumps or shallow depressions. For few countable bumps, try to step on them when the ground is soft. If this doesn’t help get a lawn roller and fill it with water to a third full and go back and forth over them.

If the bumps are persistent, add more water to the roller and repeat the process. Be careful not to overdo it as rolling can easily compact your lawn soil which will make it difficult for air, water and nutrients to reach the grass roots.

Topdressing a lawn

Topdressing works in leveling numerous but mild depressions in the lawn. It simply involve adding and spreading more organic material to the lawn. A mix of soil with a well-decomposed compost or sand is great for this. Compost is more preferred as it adds more nutrients to the soil.

You’ll need a wheelbarrow to transport the material to the site, a lawn leveling rake or a push broom to spread and work the material in the grass. Here are the steps:

  1. Start by mowing your lawn at the lowest setting possible
  2. Use a garden rake or a de-thatcher to get rid of any thatch in the lawn
  3. In a wheelbarrow, mix well-decomposed compost with soil
  4. Apply scoops of the soil mix to low areas of the lawn using a shovel
  5. Using a gardening rake, spread out the material evenly in low areas to a tune of 1/4 to 1/2 inch. Applying more than that can smoother and kill your grass.
  6. With a leveling rake or push broom, thoroughly work the compost mixture into the grass
  7. Water the grass to further stabilize the topdressing material into the ground
  8. Keep monitor the progress in the lawn and repeat if necessary every time the grass recovers until your lawn becomes flat and fully even.

Filling holes with soil

Holes created by animals can be filled with new topsoil and packed to create a flat area. Once done, you’ll need to over-seed the area. The approach can also be used in dealing with deep dents in lawn which are covered with grass. Here are the steps

  1. Remove the sod over the low spot using a sod cutter or a hoe. Safely keep the sod if you plan to reuse it or discard if you will install a new one
  2. Shovel generous amount of topsoil into the hole or where you have removed the sod until the area becomes even with the rest.
  3. While adding topsoil, also keep adding water to help the soil settle properly
  4. Now reinstall your sod or use a new one depending on what you prefer
  5. Thoroughly water the new sod until the grass gets established

Re-grading your yard

Topdressing or filling with topsoil is not likely to solve the problem when your lawn has severe bumps and sunken depressions. You may need to re-grade the area and establish a new lawn. Depending with the size of your yard, you may have to use more advanced equipment like a grader tractor.

When grading, you should always aim at sloping the ground away from your house or patio. This is to prevent cases standing water in yard when it rains which not only affect the health of your grass but also your foundations. The maximum slope in a lawn should be no more than twelve inches for every four feet. Here is how it’s done:

  1. Drive stakes in the ground and use a transit level to establish a slope line for the yard. The equipment can be hired from a nearby landscaping store or you can hire a professional service.
  2. Next, remove the topsoil from the target area. You may use simple tools like a hoe, shovel and a wheelbarrow or hire grading services when dealing with a large yard.
  3. Once done, spread two-inches of topsoil and till it into the first two-inches of subsoil. This will blend the two layers of soil which helps in solving drainage issues in the soil.
  4. Finally, spread about 4 inches of the rest of the topsoil on the area as you aim for the last grade to match your outdoor fixtures like patios, driveways, walkways or the adjacent existing lawn.
  5. Once everything is set, you can start a new lawn from seed or sod installation. Then keep watering the new lawn until your grass gets established.

Final Thought

A lawn without bumps and depressions provides a safe place to walk on, for kids to play and for sporting activities. Lawn maintenance also becomes enjoyable when dealing with flat even surface. However, it is not a surprise for your lawn to become bumpy. If this happen, I hope you now know why and what to do.

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