Lawn Leveling Rake Guide
Lawn leveling is a practice that removes high points and fills in low points on a lawn to leave it smooth and even. A level lawn is not only more aesthetically pleasing, but it also has many practical benefits. An even surface is easier to mow and maintain and also ensures better drainage. A lawn with deep depressions may start to hold puddles of water which can kill grass and attract mosquitoes. Lastly, an uneven lawn can pose a safety hazard; bumps or dips in a lawn may be concealed by grass and thus can cause trips and falls. Thus, leveling a lawn can improve your lawn’s looks and health while also providing a safer environment for children and landscapers alike.
When To Level Your Lawn
The best time to level a lawn is in mid to late spring when the grass is coming out of its dormancy. Early autumn is also a popular time to level. It is best to wait for a time when the lawn’s soil is not wet and the grass is actively growing. A dyer soil will help tools glide over the lawn, and active grass growth will allow the lawn time to fill in any small patches that the leveling process may leave behind.
Lawn Leveling Equipment
Although you may find that hiring a lawn care service best suits your needs, it is also possible to level a lawn yourself. Note that a perfectly level lawn will not be achieved in one session. Rather, it will take multiple treatments over a period of time. There are many tools that can be used for ground leveling, such as tillers or a simple flathead shovel. One of the most popular is simply called a ‘lawn level’ or a ‘lawn leveling rake’. These help to push a mixture of sand and soil into low spots while keeping the top completely even with the rest of the lawn.
In order to span more dips, we recommend The Landzie & Ryan Knorr Lawn Care Lawn Level. This lawn level is 36” wide with a 72” handle, which breaks down into two parts for storage. The powder-coated and durable construction easily spreads mix or topsoil over lawns for a smoother finish. In addition to your leveling rake, other equipment will be needed for assessing your lawn, such as a level or string, as well as a wheelbarrow or bucket for transporting materials.
All about Lawn Leveling Rakes
Although you can use other tools to level a lawn, many of them require more physical labor than a lawn leveling rake and do not yield the same smooth results. Because all lawn leveling rakes (including the collaboration between Landzie and Ryan Knorr) have grates, it allows the material to be pushed down between the blades of grass while staying level. Furthermore, because of these grates, only very fine material will be left in depressions. Larger particles like twigs or pebbles, which can smother grass, will be pushed along by the grates and are easily removed.
A Quick How-To
Using a lawn level is quite simple. You need only the level itself, material for filling dips, and a vessel to hold that material. The material for filling these lawn depressions varies depending on your goals. Typically, they are a mix of fine sand and organic material, such as soil, fertilizer, or compost. While some only use topsoil to level, others use only sand to achieve a more perfect level. It is important to note that only using sand will not have the nutrients present in organic material.
To begin using the leveling rake, put down the material over the part of your lawn you wish to smoothen. You do not need to be too precise at this step; the rake will help to spread the material evenly. Push the lawn level across the material to fill the dip. Lawn levels will work best on dips that are less than an inch deep. Deeper depressions filled with sand will become unstable. Continue grating the material back and forth into the lawn until it spans your desired area. It will most likely take a few passes in order for the material to settle completely.
Notes on Leveling Your Lawn
In order to plan your project, it is best to have as much knowledge as you can. Lawn leveling rakes work best for evening out shallow dips to get that ‘golf course’ look. Large ruts and mounds will need different care. For a more complete guide, keep reading below.
Not only is a level lawn important for aesthetic reasons, but it also keeps lawns safer, easier to maintain, and free from pooling. It is not uncommon for yards to become bumpier over time due to harsh frosts or improper grading. This can lead to tripping, scalping the grass, and unevenness when mowing. Many choose to level their lawns to combat these issues and achieve a beautiful yard. Although you may choose to hire lawn care professionals to level your lawn, it can also be done on your own with a few pieces of equipment.
Why Lawns Become Bumpy
Lawns that are clay-heavy or especially moist often become uneven after freezing in the winter. Such lawns will benefit from topsoil or compost, improving their aeration. A lawn may also become lumpy over time due to constant foot traffic, drainage issues, or animals digging and burrowing. Erosion due to sprinkler systems or harsh weather also is a common cause. Identifying the cause of your lawn’s unevenness as well as aerating the soil regularly can help to prevent it in the future.
Lawn Leveling Equipment and Material
You may need different tools depending on the type of unevenness you are trying to tackle. A lawn leveling rake is ideal for smoothing out depressions but will not be effective for large mounds. In the case of mounds, you may find a lawn roller to be useful. However, if the mound is compacted, it will likely need to be removed manually with the use of a spade. Additionally, you may find a wheelbarrow and shovel useful during any lawn leveling project.
In terms of material, it generally comes down to personal preference. Almost all leveling uses a mixture of fine sand and organic material, such as peat moss or topsoil. The fine sand fills dips evenly while the organic material helps feed the grass. Although many find a 2:3 ratio of soil and sand to be helpful, others prefer to forgo the organic material entirely and use only sand. Many golf courses only use sand to achieve the smoothest finish. Combine any material and mix thoroughly before beginning your project. Additionally, no matter what material you choose, make sure that it is completely dry before using it to avoid any clumps.
If Your Lawn Has Shallow Dips
If you are planning to level out shallow dips, you must first assess your lawn. This can be done with string or a plank of wood. Lay the plank of wood down or pull the string taut against the ground. The flat edge will show any unevenness in your lawn. Run the wood or string along your entire lawn to see the places that need to be leveled.
To begin filling in dips that are less than an inch deep, you should first start with a lawn that has been mowed very short. If lots of thatch has accumulated, you may also need to dethatch. This will ensure that your mix will settle properly. To begin using the leveling rake, apply the material over the part of your lawn you wish to smoothen. You do not need to be too precise at this step; the rake will help to spread the material evenly. Push the lawn level across the material to fill the dip. Continue grating the material back and forth into the lawn until it spans your desired area. It will most likely take a few passes in order for the material to settle completely.
If You Lawn Has Deep Ruts
Deeper indentations or large sunken areas will require more attention. If the dip is so deep that reseeding is necessary, you may consider first removing the patch of grass with a spade. Then the material will need to be placed in the rut by hand. Material high in sand will be too unstable, so your mix should be no more than one part sand for every part of organic matter. Additionally, mixing with compost or peat will encourage the growth of any new seeds. Once the mix has been applied, you can go in with your leveling rake to flatten it completely. Afterward, if the mix you used was very aerated, you can compress it lightly to keep it in place. Reapply material if needed.
If Your Lawn Has Mounds
In the event of a mound in your yard, you should first assess it. Many ground-dwelling species make large but shallow mounds as the entrance to their nest. If it is indeed an ant hill, earthworm tunnel, or chipmunk nest, you may consider leaving it alone. Alternatively, if the animals are part of a large infestation, an exterminator may be in order.
If the mound is made up only of dirt, the first thing to consider is the use of a lawn roller, a large cylinder that compresses mounds to leave them flat. To use this, the mound should be wetted first and let soak for at least twenty minutes. This will allow the soil to soften and become easier to flatten. Many also find aerating the mound beforehand to be beneficial. Once you have prepped, push the roller back and forth over the desired area until flat. However, for very large or dense mounds, a roller may end up compacting the soil even further making it difficult for grass and plants to grow. For times when a roller cannot be used, the mound must be removed manually with a spade. All the compacted soil will have to be removed and seeds will need to be replanted.
Before and After Care
Caring for your lawn before and after you level it will leave you with even better results. About a week beforehand, you can dress your lawn with a high nitrogen fertilizer to encourage grass growth. About half a pound for every thousand square feet is ideal for helping your grass recover. Also, be sure to water your lawn thoroughly after leveling. This will help the material settle into the grass. Consider aerating your lawn in the future to avoid new bumps. Lastly, continue to evaluate your lawn for unevenness. Leveling is an ongoing process over multiple seasons, so tweaks and adjustments are encouraged.