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How to Level Your Yard

Sally Painter
Multi-generation family playing soccer in yard

An uneven yard creates visual and physical problems, but you can level your yard using a few quick tips. Once you have a level yard, it's easy to maintain.

Fill in Sunken Areas With Soil

If your yard has sunken areas, various dips or uneven bare spots that make mowing difficult, and it is impossible to enjoy being in your yard, it's time to do a quick repair. You want to create a type of soil mix that's referred to as a topdressing. This will be used to fill in the low areas of your lawn that makes it uneven. This simple technique will level your yard/lawn to create a lush and inviting outdoor space.

Supplies

  • Wheelbarrow or trough for mixing soils
  • Hoe or garden rack
  • Garden hose connected to outside water spigot
  • Three parts topsoil, three parts sand, and one part compost

Basic Instructions

  1. Pour topsoil, sand and compost into the wheelbarrow.
  2. Use the hoe or garden rake to mix the soils.
  3. Use the shovel to fill in any areas with the soil mixture that are lower than the rest of the yard.
  4. Tamp down the soil with the back of the shovel.
  5. Spray the areas with water, using a gentle spay setting.
  6. Moistened the soil, add more and tamp down once more.
  7. Continue adding the soil mixture until it is one to two inches higher than the surrounding area, this will allow for the settling of the soil

Instructions for Deep Sunken Areas or Holes

  1. Use the shovel to dig up the grass in any areas that are sunken deeper than four or five inches to ensure an adequate amount of soil is added to the area to completely fill the sunken area.
  2. Repeat Steps 3 through 6 in the Basic Instructions above.
  3. Return the grass to cover the freshly filled spot.
  4. After two or three weeks, check each area you filled with the soil mixture.
  5. You may need to add a little soil mixture to most areas since the soil will have settled.
  6. Repeat the Basic Instruction Steps 3 through 6 again.
  7. Again allow a few weeks to pass, then inspect your work.
  8. You may need to repeat the process once more to ensure all the sunken areas are even with the rest of your lawn.
Homeowner Doing Yardwork

How to Level a Sloping Area in Yard

If the issue you're tackling is a sloping area in the yard that you need to level, then you can correct it using a technique that will prepare the area for resowing grass, adding a patio or simply being able to walk out onto your lawn.

Supplies

  • Line or string level
  • Measuring tape
  • Shovel
  • Garden rake
  • Tamper tool or lawn roller
  • Yard stakes
  • Twine or cord
  • Pencil
  • Rubber mallet or hammer to drive stakes
  • Garden hose connect to outside spigot
  • Filler soil (subsoil)
  • Topsoil
  • Flour or spray chalk

Instructions to Prepare the Area

  1. Pour the flour or spray the chalk to outline the area you wish to level. This will give you a good visual and it can be washed away after you're finished.
  2. With the shovel, dig up all plants/grass from area you marked with flour.
  3. Use the garden rack to clear any remaining debris and smooth dirt.
  4. With the rubber mallet, drive a stake into the ground at each corner of the area you wish to level.
  5. If you need to level the area more than 1" to 2", remove the first 6"-8" of topsoil.
  6. Place the topsoil in a protected area, so you can return it once the ground is level.
  7. Use the rake to smooth out the soil once the topsoil has been removed.

Mark Stakes and String Twine to Correct Height

  1. Use the tape measure to measure the height needed for a level area. For example, if you need 3" of soil, then mark each stake 3" from the ground.
  2. Mark the stake with the pencil.
  3. Move to the remaining three stakes and use the pencil to mark the same measurement.
  4. Tie the twine to one corner stake at the pencil line.
  5. Pull the loose end of the twine to the opposite stake.
  6. Tie the end of the twine at the pencil mark.
  7. Repeat until you've created a twine square or rectangle depending on the position of the stakes.
  8. Use a line or string level to ensure the lines are level. Adjust as needed.

Complete the Level

  1. Add the purchased soil and rake until even.
  2. Tamp down the soil.
  3. Sprinkle with water to moisten the soil and tamp down.
  4. If the space you're working is large, you may want to rent a lawn roller to speed up the process.
  5. Add topsoil back, moisten and tamp down.
  6. Leave the stakes and twine up while the soil settles and you're finished adding soil.
  7. Allow a week for the soil to settle.
  8. You may need to add another layer of soil to compensate for any settling.
  9. Tamp, moisten the soil and tamp down again.
  10. You can construct your patio, deck or resow grass in the now level area.

Calculate How Much Soil You Need

Determine how much soil you'll need by using a simple formula. Keep in mind that most soil is sold by the cubic yard. There are 27 cubic feet in one cubic yard. In this example, you need to fill in 3" of soil to level a space that is 10' x 15'.

  1. Convert the inches you need for soil depth into feet.
    • Example: 3" of soil (3" ÷ 12"=.25')
  2. Multiply the length by the width by the depth of soil needed.
    • Example: 10' x 15' x .25' = 37.5 cubic feet
  3. Divide the cubic feet by 27 (that's the number of cubic feet in one cubic yard).
    • Example: 37.5 ÷ 27=1.3889 cubic yards
  4. Round off your answer to 1.4 cubic yards. This is how much soil you'll need.

Sloping Yard

If your yard slopes toward your house and water runs into your home, you need a create a drain and slope the yard away from your home. This is a job that will require excavation equipment and possibly building a retaining wall. Unless you are experienced in this type of garden leveling, it's best to consult a landscape professional.

Leveling Your Yard Is an Easy Process

For most uneven yards, it's an easy process to level it. Choose the technique that best addresses and remedies the uneven spaces in your yard.

How to Level Your Yard