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Bumpy lawns are frustrating to mow, not pleasing to look at, and can create drainage issues when the grass slopes towards a building. In this post I will explain how to smooth out your lawn until it is fit for a game of bowls.
What’s the best time of year to level lawns?
Spring is the best time to level your lawn because it will give the grass time to grow back over the summer. Winter is the worst time as the grass is dormant.
Causes of uneven lawns
Before you get to work, take a moment to consider why the lawn might be uneven, so that you might prevent it from happening again once your repairs are complete.
Common sources of unevenness include:
- Compaction due to people walking over the lawn or vehicle traffic.
- Animals, from neighbourhood cats scratching around to moles poking up their head, are a big cause of uneven lawns.
- Children playing repeatedly in the same area, or digging up areas to make mud pie!
- Waterlogging, and the seasonal freezing and thawing of water under the surface.
- Mower-scalping which damages the roots of the grass, making areas susceptible to pests and disease.
- Rocks, roots, and rubble beneath the surface of the lawn.
Topdressing for minor leveling
Slightly uneven areas can be sorted with topdressing. This involves spreading a mix of compost, or soil, and fine sand.A typical ratio is 70 percent sand to 30 percent soil, but this varies depending on the conditions of your lawn.
The sand provides good drainage and easy levelling, but too much can prevent your grass from getting the water it needs. A good proportion of compost will ensure that the topdressing has sufficient nutrients and structure.
- Mow the lawn as low as possible
- De-thatch the lawn to remove moss
- Rake topdressing mix over the uneven area to even it out, to a max of around 1/2 an inch, ideally with a leveling rake.
- Water the grass
- Monitor growth and repeat topdressing as necessary
Picking up the turf for levelling small holes
Deeply sunken areas of lawn that can’t be remedied with topdresing might require you to lift up the turf and sweep dirt underneath it.
- Cut the turf around the edges of the sunken area
- Remove turf and stack aside
- Spread top soil into hole until it is level with lawn
- Water dirt
- Replace turf
- Water grass
- Monitor and reseed as necessary
Major levelling with regrading
Deep holes or troughs will require more forethought, and may require use of a rotavator or even a digger to break up hard soil before leveling can take place.
Simply remove the turf, barrow it away, and fill the hole with subsoil and compact it with water as you go, then add a few inches of topsoil and eventually replace the turf and reseed the area.
Ensure that you are creating an even lawn with your new grading by placing stakes in the ground with strings between them to maintain a level. If the lawn is close to your house, you will need to make sure that the earth will slope away from your house at a steady and shallow gradient.