Levelling your lawn

An even, grassed area looks appealing and has some advantages. Check out our methods to level uneven lawns.

Uneven lawn in front of a wooden fence, trees and mountain panorama in the background  
There are several ways to level a lawn

Overview: Levelling your lawn

  • It is best to level your lawn in warm and dry weather
  • An even lawn makes lawn care easier and prevents waterlogging
  • Before levelling your lawn, find out why it is uneven 
  • Level out shallow unevenness by rolling or filling with sand
  • Eliminate extensive damage by removing or digging over the old lawn
  • When working, always wear personal protective equipment according to the operating instructions

Making your lawn level: how to prepare

Depending on whether you only need to repair smaller areas or level the entire lawn, you will need more or less heavy power tools and special tools. You don't have to buy them all: some machines and tools, such as a lawn roller, can be rented from local DIY stores or STIHL dealers.

First, determine how large and how deep the unevennesses are. This determines which method you can use to level your lawn and how much filling material you may need to order. 

Does the entire lawn resemble a bumpy track? Are only a few small areas made by footprint impressions to be levelled? Or has the entire surface lowered to a sloping plane? Use this method to determine the height difference:

Determining the height difference

  • Insert one wooden stick into the soil at the lowest and one at the highest point in the lawn.
  • Link both rods with a string, pushed down as far as possible at the highest point.
  • Slide the end of the string up at the lowest point on the stick until the spirit level indicates that the string is level.
  • Using a folding ruler at the lowest point, measure the difference between the highest and lowest points.

Estimating material quantities

Once you have recorded the height differences, use the volume formula width x length x height to roughly estimate how many cubic metres of topsoil and sand you need to get to fill the uneven area. If the plane is sloped, use only half of the measured maximum height difference as the height. For an area of four by four metres and an average height difference of 10 centimetres, the calculation would be: 4 x 4 x 0.1 m = 1.6 m³

When should you level your lawn?

The best time to level your lawn is between mid-April and the end of May during a dry weather period. The soil has then usually reached the temperature of 10°C required for any reseeding and the earth is no longer as heavy because the winter melt water has dried off.

Levelling out unevenness in your lawn with a roller

Light but extensively distributed unevenness in the lawn, such as shallow footprints or grass turf that has been thrown up after a frost winter, can be levelled by rolling. Caution: This method is not suitable for young lawns. Lawn rollers are usually hollow to make them easier to transport and are only filled with water just before rolling to reach their working weight of 70 to 100 kg.

Instead of a roller, you can level the lawn with a plate compactor, but remember that it compacts the soil much more than a roller.

Filling: level your lawn with sand

Filling with sand is an easy way to level out small lawn unevennesses. Cover the lawn with a 1 cm-deep 1:1 mixture of sand and topsoil in the depressions. The blades of grass take 2–4 weeks to grow through the thin layer and take root. 

Woman spreading sand over the lawn with a broom to level it
Filling with sand is suitable as a lawn levelling technique

You may have to repeat this procedure several times over the summer until the soil is level, but you will not have to re-seed and will be able to achieve a level and strong lawn with patience. 

It is quicker if you fill the depressions completely with the sand-earth mixture and firmly step on them. But then you have to add lawn seed, because the existing lawn plants no longer get light through the thicker layer of soil to continue growing. 

Sand also helps loosen compacted turf. 

Remove and level your lawn

Use this method to level your lawn by removing turf. If the unevenness is so pronounced that rolling does not make sense and filling each area would take too much time, removing the entire lawn area can be a solution. However, like the digging and levelling described below, this is almost the same as laying a new lawn.

Dig and level the lawn

If none of the measures presented are sufficient to level the lawn, you still have to dig the lawn over and lay a completely new lawn. This method can be the best solution if a mole has struck and a larger area is damaged by its molehills and is sagging due to its underground passageways. 

Good to know

At first glance, digging over the lawn and turf around it sounds easier than removing and levelling the lawn. In contrast to digging the lawn, removing the turf also removes weeds. 

A disadvantage of removal, however, is that you have to dispose of the old turf if you don't have space in the garden where it can rot into compost.

Why level your lawn?

An even lawn not only looks attractive, it also makes lawn care much easier. 

If you compensate for unevenness in the lawn, mowing and scarifying are quicker and your robotic lawnmower won't get caught in every sink. Fertiliser can be distributed more evenly and tripping hazards are reduced. They prevent precipitation from accumulating in the depressions, which can lead to waterlogging and ultimately to lawn diseases.

Woman mowing a lawn with a STIHL lawn mower

An even lawn is easier to mow

Disadvantages of an uneven lawn

  • Mowing and scarifying lawns is more strenuous and takes more time
  • Unevenly distributed fertiliser leads to a patchy lawn
  • Depressions become tripping hazards and affect your lawn use
  • Puddles of water in the sinks lead to waterlogging – optimal conditions for fungi and moss

Reasons for uneven lawn

Before you level your lawn, you should find out the reason for the unevenness. If, for example, a disrupted water drain is the cause, you must first solve this main cause before levelling your lawn.

Reason Explanation
Mistakes when laying a lawn The soil had no time to settle between soil preparation and sowing the lawn.
Animals While moles in the garden are immediately noticeable thanks to their raised mounds of earth, voles usually dig their aisles unnoticed until the soil is so hollowed out that the lawn area partially sinks.
Lack of water drainage This is caused, for example, by a lack of drainage, which leads to water accumulation and ultimately to the ground sinking.
Weight load Driving heavy machinery or seated lawnmowers.
Walking on wet grass If the ground is soaked after prolonged rain or thawing snow, our body weight is sufficient to leave footprint impressions.
Trees Tree roots push up the lawn surface.

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