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How to Level Your Backyard Quickly and Affordably in Simple Steps (2023)

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how to level your back yard

  1. You push the mower over another bump and cringe as it bottoms out, thinking about the damage you’re doing to the blades and motor. An uneven lawn does more than provide an unpleasant mowing experience. It poses safety hazards, looks bad, and leads to costly repairs if ignored. But take heart – you can smooth and level your grass quickly, easily, and cheaply. With basic tools and readily available materials, you’ll restore your yard’s beauty, make maintenance easier, enhance your home’s curb appeal, and protect your investment in the landscape.

Follow simple, proven steps to evaluate and fill depressions, replace grass, and water thoroughly. Soon you’ll enjoy an even, lush lawn perfect for play, entertaining, and pride of ownership.

  1. That bumpy, uneven lawn taunts you every time you mow. The mower bounces and bottoms out while you clench your teeth. Sure, it’s annoying, but an unlevel yard can lead to more serious issues. Safety hazards, unsightliness, and costly repairs loom if you don’t take action.

Power through the problem with simple, effective techniques to level your landscape. Gauge the damage, fill depressions, smooth the surface, and replant grass. With basic tools, affordable materials, and sweat equity, you’ll restore your yard’s beauty in no time.

Take control and transform your property with a flat, smooth lawn perfect for play and enjoyment.

Key Takeaways

  • Mark high and low areas with a string grid and laser level.
  • Fill depressions and holes, smooth them out with a rake, replace the grass, and water thoroughly.
  • It is best to do this between March and October when the grass is actively growing.
  • Evaluate the degree of unevenness, the tools and materials required, and consider whether to do it yourself or seek professional help.

Reasons to Level Yard

Reasons to Level Yard
You’ll reap aesthetic and functional benefits by smoothing out the bumps and dips in your outdoor space.

An enriched aesthetic emerges when you level and grade your lawn, creating a smooth, lush expanse for playtime and relaxation.

Localizing spots where water pools enables you to fill lawn gaps where moisture gathers and condensation stagnates.

Laying walkways on a graded surface keeps pathways neatly defined without buckling.

Smoothing uneven lawn terrain also supports proper grass growth by enabling equal light exposure and efficient mowing across the yard.

Eliminating bumps prevents scalping of blades and brown patches while sloping away from foundations properly directs runoff.

With a leveled lawn, your outdoor oasis regains its beauty and utility.

When to Level

When to Level
March through October are the prime times to tackle leveling, when the grass is actively growing and can recover from the stress. Avoid trying to level your lawn during the spring thaw or peak summer heat when the grass is already stressed.

Carefully weigh the pros and cons of different techniques based on your climate and grass type. While some advocate aggressive digging out old turf for total re-leveling, incremental topdressing often yields good results with less stress on the existing lawn.

The best practices involve understanding how leveling impacts the grass, soil, and underlying lawn health.

Add thin layers of topsoil and organic compost to fill low spots, allowing the grass to slowly adjust its roots. Monitor for erosion, inadequate drainage, or overwatering issues. With patience and proper timing, you can transform an uneven lawn into a smooth, lush carpet of healthy grass.


Before beginning any grading work, you’ll need to evaluate the soil and mark areas that require leveling. After removing grass and roots, fill in low spots with soil, rake smoothly, replace grass, and water thoroughly as the new grass establishes itself.

Evaluate Soil

Step one before laying new soil is testing the grade by digging down a few inches to see what you’re working with.

  1. Check texture – sandy, loam, clay
  2. Test fertility – nutrients, pH
  3. Evaluate compaction – porous, dense
  4. Determine organic content – living organisms

Digging test holes helps understand the physical properties so you can pick the right amendments when prepping to level your yard.

Set Perimeter Stakes

After calculating fill requirements, set perimeter stakes around the lawn’s edges to mark the desired height. Use slope adjustments and drainage planning when positioning stakes. Account for sod, topdressing, grading, and lawn leveling needs.

Mark Areas to Level

Now that the perimeter stakes are set, go ahead and mark the low spots and high points in the lawn with corner stakes to visualize the areas needing adjustment.

  • Use a string grid layout to identify high and low areas accurately.
  • Carefully measure elevations between stakes with a laser level.
  • Consider existing drainage slopes when marking areas to adjust.

Dig Out Grass

Carefully carve out the grass like a sculptor shapes clay to remove troublesome roots before filling in holes. Calculate the topsoil and sand needed after inspecting the foundation and utilities. Rent equipment if lacking proper tools. Monitor for pests and animals that disturb the smoothed soil.

Fill Holes and Depressions

Fill the holes and low spots with your soil mixture to smooth things out. This will even the surface for better drainage, moisture retention, and uniform mowing. The improved soil mixture also allows for faster reseeding and thatch decomposition, reducing diseases.

Smooth the Surface

Spread the soil mixture evenly across the area with a rake once you’ve filled any holes and depressions, letting the teeth gently smooth everything to a consistent grade as you go. Use this time of year to prepare your site and correct drainage issues with proper material choices.

Replace Grass

Restore life to your lawn by laying fresh grass on the smooth earth. Overseed bare spots, carefully spray weeds, and fill animal holes. Use fungus treatments to protect new growth. Promptly monitor and control grub infestations.

Top Dress if Needed

Repeat gently, smoothing any remaining dips for that picture-perfect appearance over time, friend. Topdressing after the initial leveling further smooths things out. Apply thin layers of topsoil and sand, and repeat as the grass grows to perfection.

Water Thoroughly

You’ll want to give the grass a good soak after leveling to help it establish before letting it grow in fully. Focus on watering techniques like a slow application rate to soak thoroughly without runoff and promote root growth.

Tools and Materials Needed

Tools and Materials Needed
Grab a lawn mower, rake, shovel, and wheelbarrow to get the tools you’ll need for leveling the backyard. The most essential equipment required includes basic hand tools like a sturdy metal rake, round-point shovel, push broom, and wheelbarrow.

You’ll also want an edger, dethatching rake, and optionally a mechanical tiller to prep the soil. For materials, purchase bags of sand, compost, and topsoil to create the ideal soil mix for filling depressions.

The proper mix of these materials, along with your choice of leveling technique, depends on your grass type, soil conditions, and degree of unevenness.

Proper planning and preparation are key steps, so start by evaluating the lawn’s current condition, marking problem areas, removing grass, and calculating the amount of fill needed. Then focus on smoothing the surface incrementally with the soil mix, tamping down with a lawn roller, and replacing the grass.

With the right tools, materials, planning, and techniques, you can transform an uneven lawn into a smooth, lush, and gorgeous backyard.

Cost Factors

Cost Factors
Let’s analyze the core factors that’ll influence the cost to smooth your backyard terrain.

  1. Location – The region you live in will impact pricing due to labor rates, material costs, and contractor demand.
  2. Severity – Minor dips and bumps are cheaper to fix than major unevenness. The more backfill soil required, the more you’ll pay.
  3. Contractor vs DIY – Hiring a landscaping pro is more expensive but saves physical labor.
  4. Tools/materials – Basic tools like rakes and shovels are cheap. Renting powered equipment (tillers, trucks) adds costs.

The total expense depends on how much time, effort, and supplies are required for your unique project. Carefully evaluate the key cost drivers – the degree of correction needed, tool/material expenses, and sweat equity versus hiring out.

With realistic expectations, you can budget wisely and transform your lumpy lawn into a smooth, envy-inducing oasis.


After providing insight into some key cost factors associated with leveling your yard, let’s now shift our focus to discussing important maintenance tips to keep your newly leveled space looking its best.

Proper ongoing maintenance is crucial for preserving the benefits of a freshly leveled lawn.

  • Dethatch and aerate: At least once a year.
  • Overseed bare spots: As needed.
  • Fertilize: 2-4 times per year.
  • Treat issues quickly: As soon as spotted.
  • Sharpen mower blades: Before each mow.
  • Monitor for pests/damage: Ongoing.

Staying on top of mowing, watering, aerating, seeding, and nourishment provides the tender loving care needed to sustain a smooth, lush lawn. Fill in holes or depressions promptly before they worsen or compromise drainage.

Control erosion through proper grading, compaction, and erosion barriers as required. Your leveled lawn relies on vigilant stewardship to retain its renewed appearance and ideal functionality for enjoyment.

Benefits of Leveling Yard

Benefits of Leveling Yard
Smoothing out that uneven terrain creates a unified landscape with enhanced aesthetics and proper drainage for healthy grass growth. With a smooth, even topography, your lawn takes on a pristine, well-manicured appearance that boosts curb appeal and enhances the beauty of your outdoor space.

Filling in depressions and eliminating bumps allows for uniform cutting when mowing, preventing scalping and brown spots. Leveling corrects areas where water pools after rain, improving drainage across the entire yard.

With proper grading, runoff flows away from the house, preventing foundation damage. Erosion is reduced by smoothing slopes and filling gullies where soil gets washed away.

The improved drainage and filled depressions also create ideal conditions for grass to spread and thrive. Your lawn benefits from a robust root system unimpeded by compacted soil. Thatch buildup is decreased when mowing can occur evenly over the leveled yard.

Bringing your property to a uniform grade unlocks a range of aesthetics and maintenance benefits that keep your landscape looking its best year-round.

Cautions and Precautions

Cautions and Precautions
Carefully roll and rake the yard’s slopes to ensure water drains properly. When leveling your backyard, be mindful of these key precautions:

  1. Ensure proper drainage on slopes. Use a rake to smooth soil from high to low areas.
  2. Avoid over-compacting soil. Excessive rolling can damage grass roots and prevent proper drainage.
  3. Monitor for settlement. Fill may settle over time, undoing leveling work. Check periodically and re-level low spots as needed.

Proper drainage prevents erosion, while adequate compaction provides stability without suffocating grass roots. Take care when working near trees to prevent damage to surface roots or soil compaction under the canopy.

Leveling requires patience and vigilance. Work methodically, re-check your progress, and make adjustments over time.

With care and persistence, you can transform an uneven backyard into a smooth surface for play and entertainment.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long does it take for new grass to fully establish after leveling the yard?

After leveling your yard, new grass typically takes 4-6 weeks to fully establish if properly watered and cared for. Be patient as the roots develop and avoid heavy activity on the new lawn during this grow-in period.

Mow high, fertilize, and spot seed any thin areas to help your leveled yard fill in thick and green.

Can I do minor leveling jobs myself or do I need to hire a professional landscaper?

You can tackle minor leveling jobs if you’re handy and have the right tools. But for major overhauls, spring for a pro. Their laser grading and soil knowledge will save your back and ensure proper drainage.

Will leveling my yard get rid of all the low spots where water pools after rain?

Leveling can significantly reduce low spots and improve drainage, but it may not eliminate all problem areas. Factors like soil type, erosion, and compacted areas under the surface can allow some pooling to remain.

Additional topdressing, aerating, or adjusting the grade may be needed for full correction.

How often will I need to re-level my yard over time as settling occurs?

You’ll likely need to re-level your yard every few years as natural settling occurs. Carefully inspect for low spots annually and fill as needed. Aeration, overseeding, and proper drainage can help minimize sinking.

However, some degree of re-leveling over time is normal to maintain a smooth, properly graded lawn.

What type of grass grows best after a yard has been leveled?

Focus on hardy, drought-tolerant grasses like tall fescue or buffalo grass. They will establish quickly and tolerate temporary dry spots. Overseed with a contractor-grade seed mix and starter fertilizer to encourage dense, even growth.

Water daily until the new grass takes hold, but avoid oversaturating. Mow high and often once established.


Imagine this: Nearly half of all homes suffer from uneven yards. So, if you want to improve drainage, enhance aesthetics, and fix problems in your backyard, leveling is essential. After assessing the soil, marking areas to fix, filling depressions, and letting the grass recover, you’ll have a smooth, rejuvenated lawn that’s safer and easier to maintain.

With some work upfront, you can transform your backyard and gain all the benefits of a properly leveled yard for years to come.

Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is a published author and software engineer and agriculture expert from the US. To date, he has helped thousands of people make their yards lush and thick.