A Guide to Leveling Your Yard & Reasons Why You Should Do It
Size doesn’t really matter in many respects in life, but it’s certainly pretty important when it comes to your yard. If your yard is full of bumps, dipping points, looks bad in general or it’s hard to look after in general, there is a good chance that you are eager to level it in order to make it both look better and to make it easier to care for.
Thankfully, we are here to help you to level your yard, and to share a couple of reasons why it’s a good idea to do so. If you level it off correctly the first time you try to do it, then you are going to save yourself a lot of effort and cash in the long run. With that in mind, let’s dive in!
Leveling and Grading Yards – The Key Differences
Throughout this article, we will be referring both to grading and leveling yards. Sometimes people who are into gardening will use the two terms to mean the same thing. With that being said though, they don’t really mean the same thing.
If you are grading a yard, then this is a term that’s used in landscaping that is referring to how the yard slopes off from the home’s foundation. Leveling, on the other hand, is when you attempt to smooth the surface of your yard in order to make it easier to maintain and to make it look better.
While the two aren’t the same thing, they are equally as important when it comes to creating a spectacular looking yard.
What’s the Point In Grading Your Yard?
Here’s the thing. Homes are designed to reside on the land. They are not designed to be used as indoor swimming pools – unless that is in fact your specific purpose. As such, you will want to do everything in your power to ensure that any water from outside does not make its way into your home.
If you have excess water in your yard, it’s likely because of a recent bout of heavy rainfall. It’s important that this water has a way to drain away from your home, otherwise you will get water damage to your house.
In order for the water to stay out of your home, you will need to ensure that your yard has proper draining. For this, you will need the right grading. If your property is well graded then the water will run away from your home’s foundations, and this helps to prevent the water from causing issues inside of your home and around it.
If you are planning on buying a new home then an inspector is going to look at this straight away, since if the grading isn’t done correctly it will almost certainly cause issues for you in the future. Likewise, it’s also important if you are selling a house!
What’s the Point In Leveling a Yard?
The whole appearance of your yard is likely to be improved if you level it properly. In addition to this, you have a much slimmer chance of accidents and safety issues in your yard if the yard has been leveled correctly.
Likewise, if your yard has been leveled correctly then it will drain much better and you will see fewer puddles on the lawn after it has been raining.
You will find that it’s easier to mow a lawn that has been properly leveled. It can sometimes be a challenge to mow a lawn that is bumpy, and you may just end up having an uneven mow as a result. Mowing a bumpy lawn is just going to be frustrating for you.
It’s only natural for a lawn to become a little uneven after a while in places, since life can simply cause it some damage. The less a lawn has been maintained, the more likely it is that it is going to need to be leveled.
There are a few things that can cause your lawn to become uneven, including animals digging, pests, water flow changes, compaction and more.
What Tools To Use to Grade and Level a Yard?
If you are planning on leveling or grading your yard, there are a number of different ways that you can do it.
On the one hand, you can simply use machines that you can walk behind and some hand tools if you are only making small repairs to the yard. Or, you can rent some larger equipment to help you to do the job faster, including a small excavator or a bobcat.
The final option is to simply get a contractor to level the yard for you, thus avoiding the risk of any errors. Of course, this will also be the most expensive choice.
If you’re looking at this article then the chances are that you are going to try to do it yourself. If that’s the case, these are the main tools that you are going to need.
- Lawn mower
- Landscaping rake
- Thatch rake
- Dethatching machine
- Four stakes
- Flathead shovel
- Line level
- Ball of string
- Lawn roller
How To Grade a Yard in Steps?
It can initially seem like grading a yard is quite a complicated process, but thankfully this is not actually the case. All you need is a little bit of basic logic and the ability to see what’s going on around you and you can get it done without a hitch.
So, how do you grade your yard? Here is what you need to do.
Start off by remembering where the low spots are around your home’s foundations. You may find it helpful to walk around your home’s base to check where they all are. When you have done that, you will then need to work out the slope of the yard as it currently stands.
When you have followed the steps listed above, get a little bit of dirt to fill in any areas in your garden that need grading. Measure them first as this will help you to figure out if the areas will fit in with the sloping grade that you are looking for. You will want to make sure that all of the grading in your yard is consistent, or you may end up causing further problems for yourself in the future.
How to Level Your Yard?
So we’ve already outlined how you can grade your yard – that’s because in order to get started on leveling the yard, you will first need to ensure that it has been leveled properly. This is a real time saver overall, since it means that you won’t basically have to undo all of your work later on. When the grading is finished you can then get started on leveling the yard.
Leveling isn’t super difficult, but it’s worth noting that in some cases it may take up to a day to do – it may take less time than this if you have a small yard.
You will need to start off by working out the parts of the lawn that you will need to level. This is vital since it means that you won’t need to dig any areas that don’t need to be dug into. This saves you both time and money since you aren’t going to have to seed the garden all over again thanks to errors in judgement.
After you have done this, grab your lawn mower and trim the yard. You don’t need to be super thorough with this, but it’s important that you mow it just a little bit shorter than how you would usually mow your lawn. This will make it easier for you to pinpoint any areas with bumps or dips in the garden afterwards. You may find it easier to mark any areas like this so that you can notice them when you are leveling.
It’s not time to work out how much thatch you are going to need to level the lawn. Get rid of any of the thatch that’s already on your lawn – you can either do this manually just by pulling the thatch up, or you can use a thatch rake to do it and move it over the surface area. If you have a pretty large yard then you will likely find that it is best to simply use a dethatching machine instead.
Get a little bit of topsoil and then use these to level any of the spots that may be a bit sunken in. If you have any bumps in the yard then you can use the shovel to level these out. It’s possible to make your own topsoil mix if you don’t want to buy one especially for the job – you just need to mix together two parts of topsoil, one part of compost and two parts of sand.
Then it’s time to turn your attention to any of the low spots in the yard. You can dig these up using a shovel, but there’s no need to do this unless the dip is deeper than around two to three inches. You can fill in the holes using the topsoil or the topsoil mix that we previously mentioned, and press down on it to put the turf back.
You can use a rake after doing this in order to make the soil more level. Water it in to compact the soil you have just added, ensuring that you don’t make it too wet that there are puddles or any runoff.
You can use the shovel to rearrange the soil as you need to. It’s best to avoid spending the extra money and just use the soil you have taken from the raised parts of the yard to fill in the holes in the yard. In some cases a tiller can be useful for breaking the top of the soil too, making it looser and allowing you to level the bigger yards much more easily. Flatten any soil using the back site of your rake.
When you are done with leveling everything off, you are then going to want to put the sod back onto it or get to work on seeding the new areas. In some cases it may also be necessary to add an additional layer of soil if you are trying to level a much larger yard area.
You will know if this is the case in your yard then you will notice that there’s not as much grass growth in the new areas, or you may notice that it doesn’t look like you put any soil in the areas in question. Just add some extra soil and work out what areas need a little extra leveling.
When Is the Best Time to Level a Yard?
If you are looking to level your yard, then it’s best to do so towards the beginning of fall. You could do it during the mid to late spring time too, though the fall is definitely best.
Why is this? Well, this is because the soil is still fairly warm allowing germination to occur relatively quickly. At the same time, it is also beneficial because you won’t need to worry about the grass being stressed from the summer heat, and so it will be easier for the new grass roots to grow before the winter rolls around, all ready for the following year.
Quick Tips on Leveling Larger Yards
So we’ve covered all of the technical aspects of leveling a yard, but there are also some additional things that are worth keeping in mind before you get to work on your garden. These tips are important for your safety, and can also ensure that you aren’t wasting any of your money or time – assets we definitely can’t get enough of these days!
If you are planning on digging your yard, then it’s a good idea to call the number 811 first. This will be useful since they can mark off any areas where there are underground facilities in your yard, so you don’t end up damaging anything as you are digging.
Likewise, you will also find it much easier to do the job if the ground has already been prepared in advance. Tilling the yard will be handy since the ground will be softer when you are working.
If there hasn’t been any rain in your area in the last few days or so, then make sure that you water it around one day before you get to work on leveling the yard. This will make the yard softer so working with it will be easier, and you will minimize the amount of dust too.
When working in your yard, it’s a good idea to wear closed toe shoes. Working in your yard isn’t the most dangerous thing in the world, but surely you still want to use your toes, right?
It’s worth your while to figure out why the ground isn’t leveled before you work on it too. The last thing you need is to have to level your yard again all the time because there’s an underlying issue that’s causing the ground to be uneven. You’ll simply be wasting your time. That extra foresight is certainly key.Before you work on leveling, it’s a good idea to take any perennial plants away. You can always replace them later on but you don’t want to damage them when you are leveling your yard.
If you have any bare areas in your garden then it’s also a good idea to put some hay over the locations, since this will help to stop weeds from growing in the places while you are waiting for the seed to grow. It will also help to ensure that there isn’t any erosion in the soil.