How to fix an uneven lawn

How do I deal with an uneven lawn?

Sometimes our clients ask us about the best way to fix uneven levels in their lawns, with many being confused as to the differences between Top Dressing and Top Soil for this application. Hopefully this article will help to iron out the gaps and bumps in your knowledge…

Does my lawn have to be level?

Many lawn enthusiasts will dedicate much of their time and energy to the pursuit of the perfectly smooth lawn, looking for the full Bowling Green effect. For many of us, life’s compromises will see us settle for something a little less immaculate but perhaps more usable. Children, pets and entertaining will all take their toll on a lawn, and the harder it is used the greater the impact will be. We understand that everyone’s expectations of their lawn will be different, so our answer to the question would have to be that it depends on the needs of the individual concerned.

The main advantage of a level lawn is that it will be easy to mow and keep looking great but it will also improve surface drainage. If there are pronounced dips and hollows, these will collect rainwater and allow it to pool and stand long after the downpour has ceased. These wet conditions can encourage lawn diseases. Mowing will be more even and straightforward across the smooth surface, and there will be no scalping as a result.

Eradicating depressions and bumps will also make a lawn safer to use, reducing the risk of injury through turned ankles, bruises, jarred joints etc. This is as true for grown-ups as it is for youngsters and can occur just as readily when simply walking on a lawn as it can when more sporty activities are going on!

Why is my lawn bumpy?

There are many potential reasons for a lawn becoming bumpy, and it is important to understand the cause before undertaking treatment. Sometimes an underlying problem can be so fundamental that a long-term solution must be found, otherwise the condition will only deteriorate over time.

Ground subsidence, damaged underground pipes (either drainage or irrigation), Frost Heave, buried objects or even pest infestation can be causes of gradual or sudden unevenness in a lawn, or maybe it was not laid very well in the first place, so understanding the root cause is imperative before attempting a remedy. At this point, expert advice is invaluable. When it comes to leveling lawns with surface imperfections we carry out our SOS Lawn Makeover of scarification, aeration, top dressing and over-seeding, or alternatively for very uneven lawns which require leveling with top soil or re-regrading and seeding our landscaping company Hewlett Turf & Landscapes are the specialists .


What if my lawn only has small imperfections?

A lovely lawn, with slight blemishes, made smooth by renovation of scarification, aeration, top dressing and over-seeding.

To smooth out and renovate a lawn that just has minor imperfections in the surface can be done by renovation during the autumn.  It is usually best to scarify and aerate before top dressing so that the dressing can easily be rubbed into the dips. Top Dressing can be done by a lawn care professional or you can do it yourself.  A range of Top Dressing is available, all being a blend of soil, compost, loam or sand, designed in different mixes to boost nutrition and assist in the germination of new seed.  This is quite a big subject so please find more information here on how the professionals do it: or alternatively if you are keen to do it yourself a full range of top dressing products can be found here at The Lawn Store:

What if my lawn is very uneven and has large dips?

A lawn in need of some bump-smoothing help, leveled with fine screened top soil, prior to over-seeding.

Those smaller dips up to 3-10mm can be filled in with Top Dressing, but anything deeper is a point which has certainly caused its fair share of confusion. We have received enquiries for Top Dressing to be used for leveling large areas of an uneven lawn, an application for which it would not have been suitable.  We would always suggest finely screened Top Soil is a better solution for filling-in larger dips and hollows in a lawn as it will provide more structure and is less likely to sink in the future.

Follow these steps when leveling an uneven lawn with soil:

  1. Kill off the grass of undulations deeper than 10mm, with a total weed killer such as Glyphosate, or alternatively scrape the grass off down to soil level.
  2. Scarify the entire lawn and remove the arisings, this will help you see clearly where the low points and dips in the lawn are. Aeration of the entire lawn to relive compaction is also recommended.
  3. Measure the total area of the dips so you can estimate how much soil you need. Follow this link to the soil calculator
  4. Purchase good quality premium top soil which is screened to below 10mm and fill the areas with soil, raking and firming as you go to create a smooth surface.
  5. Sow lawn seed to the bare soil areas at a rate of 30 grams per square metre.
  6. Apply pre-seed fertiliser.
  7. Now that the worst of the dips are filled and seeded, apply top dressing and over-seed the entire lawn which will remove any other minor imperfections
  8. Be patient and wait for the lawn to recover and new seed to germinate, which can take 4-16 weeks depending on the time of year and weather conditions. Once the grass gets to 2-3 inches long, mow on a medium to high setting and collect the clippings.

We hope this summary gives you some food for thought, and you are of course always welcome to Contact Us if you would like to arrange a free, no-obligation survey.

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