Updated Oct 11, 2022
Is your yard uneven and bumpy?
Leveling your yard can improve an uneven, rocky yard and protect your home’s basement or foundation from water damage. Rough yards are not only unsightly, but they can quickly become a safety hazard that can lead to people tripping or falling in your yard.
Many issues can lead to a bumpy lawn and yard, including gophers, moles, drainage issues, pipe leaks, and much more. Start by identifying any problems in your yard that may cause future problems in how even your yard is. For example, if you have drainage issues, you’ll need to fix these before leveling your yard. Otherwise, the drainage issues will cause your yard to become uneven again over time.
Keep reading to learn our top tips for how to level a yard yourself.
There are many reasons why it’s important to level your yard. Here are a few of the most notable:
Not every leveling project will require all of these tools, but it’s a good idea to have at least your lawn mower, rake, soil, shovel, and compost on hand for the following projects. You’ll also need at least one of the following leveling methods for determining the correct height for a level yard.
The string method is one of the best ways to level a large area in your yard. Pound stakes into the ground around the perimeter of the uneven area, then pull strings tautly between the stakes. Use a line level to double-check that the strings are level.
If you have sloping ground, attach the string tightly to the ground on the high side, then stretch it tautly and attach it to the stake on the low side. Take care to ensure there is no sag in the middle of your string, then hang the carpenter’s level on your string to find the right ground level. Move the line level up or down the string as you go to center the level’s bubble.
The level’s different measurements at the high and low sides will indicate how much soil you need to add to the low side to create a level yard. Alternatively, you can set the string at a slope you want if you are correcting a negative slope alongside your home. Add dirt with your earthmover or shovel, and keep the amount of dirt added uniform.
Water is a natural level that rises to the earth’s center of gravity. To take advantage of this phenomenon, fill a transparent plastic tube with dyed water so that you can see the level easier, then leave a tiny amount of air at each end of the tube. The water will naturally level at the ends to match a relative height to the earth’s center of gravity.
We recommend this method over the laser and string method when you have plants or foliage blocking the areas you want to measure. It’s also ideal for pinpointing a gradual slope.
If you’re looking to save time, consider using a laser level so that you don’t have to pound stakes into your yard. Laser levels create a beam, much like an invisible string, which will help you make your yard even once more.
Place the laser level’s transmitting end on the highest ground and a 2-by-4 plank of wood on the lowest end, laying vertically. The height difference between the plank and laser level will give you the slope of your yard. Then, you can fill the difference in with soil to fix it.
If you have depressions in your yard, consider the screen method for your DIY project.
Place a 2-by-4 screen over depressions in your yard. Attach the screen to the ground firmly by driving two rebar poles into it to hold the screen steady. Using the screen as your guide, use the screen to add dirt to the depression until it is level with the surrounding area.
We recommend filling the depression with a little more dirt than needed. Then, remove the screen and use the edge of the screen to smooth the dirt over the depression, creating an even, smooth surface. Fresh dirt usually settles, so you may need to wet the soil to compact it with a lawn roller to fill the depression entirely.
Moles and gophers can create a plethora of holes and depressions throughout your yard, which creates tripping hazards, breeding spots for mosquitoes, and makes mowing your lawn a tedious task. Examine the depressions to see how deep they are. If the pits are less than 2 inches deep, you may be able to fill them quickly with soil and move on with your day.
However, if the depressions are more than 2 inches deep, avoid throwing dirt in the hole to fill it because it will likely wash away with the next rainfall. Use a shovel to cut and remove turf around the depressions, then fill the holes with a mixture of compost and soil. Afterward, replace the turf. This additional step will encourage nearby roots to grow through this area, reinforcing the newly added dirt.
Leveling your yard creates a safer, more beautiful environment for you and your family to enjoy for years to come. Take the time today to assess your yard’s current condition. Look for existing depressions, uneven terrain, and other telltale signs of an uneven yard, such as pools of water, foundation rot, and uneven grass growth.
Once you understand the basics of leveling your lawn and yard, it’s definitely a worthwhile project to take on. You’ll create a beautiful space for your family to enjoy and increase your home’s curb appeal. Not only this, but you will protect against water waste, and your home will be protected from poor water drainage, which can hurt your home’s foundation.
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