Level a Bumpy Lawn

Is mowing your lawn becoming more difficult than walking across a minefield? Are you tired of a lumpy, bumpy appearance making your summer gatherings just a little less picture-perfect? With some time and elbow-grease, you can get a lawn that would make even the manliest of your neighbors weep with jealousy.


Setting Up For Success

  1. Check for drainage problems. Before you do anything, you should try to figure out why your lawn is bumpy. Sometimes, it can be the result of drainage problems (usually this depends on how long the lawn has been established), or even broken water pipes. If your lawn had major work done on it in the last few years, and it's bumpy everywhere, then that's normal. If, however, there are two to three low spots around areas where there may be water or drainage pipes, you should consult an expert to make sure that nothing is leaking.
    • You can investigate a little by turning off the water and then watching your water meter. Notice if it is very slowly turning. If you are using a well, watch the pump cycles.
  2. Check your sprinkler system. A sprinkler system that is not operating properly is often the cause of a bumpy lawn. Be sure and check the system out before beginning lawn rehabilitation process. Check that the spray heads and rotors are working correctly and popping up to the full height (this is usually about 4 inches), that the nozzles are not clogged or damaged, and that the heads are not leaking.
    • Remember a sprinkler system requires upkeep at least once a year, if not more often. Most repairs and upkeep can be done without professional assistance if you do a little research and know the brand of sprinkler or irrigation system you are using.
  3. Decide how much area to level. Are you leveling just a few small spots or is your yard a, as the kids say, "hot mess"? If you have a seriously bumpy yard, it may be better to start from scratch. Decide what you want to do before wasting a bunch of time and effort.
    • You may not realize it, but your yard has a life that will slowly come to an end. If this is the case, starting over by sodding or seeding your yard.
  4. Choose a grade for your yard. A level lawn is all well and good but you also want to think about the grade of your lawn. Experts recommend sloping your yard away from your house to help with drainage. While working on leveling, you might want to consider re-grading as well, if you have drainage issues.
  5. Find the depth of low spots. If the low spots are fairly shallow, you should be fine. However, if they're deep, it may be easier to take out the grass at that spot before filling it in.
    • You can easily measure the depth of the low spots by placing a long, straight edge over the low spot, then using a ruler against that straight edge to take your measurement. If the spot is {{safesubst:#invoke:convert|convert}} or less it is considered a shallow low spot. Greater than {{safesubst:#invoke:convert|convert}} is considered deep.
  6. Time your repairs carefully. For basic repairs, try to time them for the spring. This will allow your grass seed time to grow in and will also provide the moisture necessary to help set the soil.

Mixing Your Filler

  1. Add your topsoil. Get some high quality topsoil from a good gardening store or soil supply company. Good soil will be crucial for getting your lawn to stay even and your grass to grow back.
  2. Add some sand. A bit of sand, also purchased from a soil supply company, will help give your mixture the right consistency to stay in place, keeping low spots from returning.
  3. Add some compost or manure. You'll also want to make sure that your soil is nutrient rich, to help ensure your grass grows back healthy and quickly.
  4. Mix them together. Mix them together at a ratio of of two parts topsoil, two parts sand, and one part compost.

Filling Low Spots

  1. Add your mix to low spots. Find the low spots in your yard and add the mixture you made to the spots, adding in just a little more than is necessary to even them out — "feather" the mixture in all directions and over all the edges.
  2. Spread it until it is level. Use a rake to spread the mixture evenly and fill out the spot.
  3. Tamp it down. Use your feet and the end of the rake to tamp down the soil, compacting it. You can also rent a tamper from your local major hardware store. This piece of equipment will work even better to make sure those spots don't come back.
  4. Add water. Lightly water the soil to help further compact.
  5. Let it settle. Give the soil plenty of time to settle. At least a few days, preferably a week or more.

Regrowing Your Grass

  1. Distribute grass seeds. Get some grass seed appropriate for your lawn and area where you live and then get a hand spreader to help distribute the seed, especially if you have a fair amount of area to cover. Distribute the seeds, being careful not to go overboard.
  2. Add topsoil. Sprinkle just a bit of topsoil over the seeds. You want to cover the grass seed with {{safesubst:#invoke:convert|convert}} of topdressing, which allows for good soil contact and moisture-holding coverage.This will also help deter birds from eating your seed.
  3. Lightly compact the soil. With your hand, pat down the soil you've added. Remember that the seed has to make contact with the soil, as well as coverage, or it can dry out between waterings and will not grow.
    • If seeding a larger area, use a lawn roller that is half filled.
  4. Water frequently. Water this soil with a light spray four times a day for the next 48 hours at least to help the seeds germinate.
  5. Add more seed as necessary. Give the grass time to grow in. It may seem like it is taking ages, but be patient. Grass will usually appear within 21 to 30 days, if not sooner. If there are still bare spots, add more grass seed as necessary. Enjoy your smooth lawn!
    • Wait for grass to grow to at least {{safesubst:#invoke:convert|convert}} height, if not longer, before mowing. Lawn mowers will pull your new grass right out of the soil if it has not had time to root.


  • Definitely level your lawn if you remove and replace the sod. Before replacing sod or reseeding, use a wide rake or even a board (tie a rope around both ends and drag it behind you) to get the ground even.
  • It is best to do this in the spring or early fall before heavy freezing.
  • If you only have a few low spots or deep divots, spend the summer packing your grass clippings into these spots. By fall they will have filled in nicely.

Things You'll Need

  • Soil
  • Grass Seed
  • (optional) Digging tools, a rotor tiller, or lawn dethatcher

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