How to Level a Bumpy Lawn Like a Pro: 7 Simple Steps

Achieving an envy-worthy, golf course-like lawn involves leveling out those bumps. This 7-step guide covers the essentials, from understanding the causes of a bumpy lawn to choosing the right materials and tools.

We cover the importance of core aeration, applying biostimulants, and using fertilizer in the lawn leveling process. After reading this article, you will know precisely what you need to get a great result, just like a pro.

What Causes a Bumpy Lawn? 

Understanding why bumpy lawns develop over time helps you identify the best strategies for treating the problem. Common culprits include poor sod installation and heavy traffic. Using the wrong mowing patterns or uneven watering can result in bumpy ground. Lawns can also develop undulations if they lack sufficient aeration. Compacted soil prevents root growth, making surfaces look like corrugated metal. 

Animal activity can also play a role. Burrowing pests can lead to holes and raised areas, while pets can dig into the grass, removing material from some locations and depositing it in others.

mole tracks in lawn

Even the weather can cause disruption. Repeated freezing and thawing during winter can expand and contract the soil, leading to changes in its distribution throughout the season. Some areas may appear raised while others look lower down. 

Droughts and excessive rain can have similar effects. Too much water can make soil clump and form bumps when it dries, while too little leads to desiccation, cracking, and rutting.


Related: Muddy Backyard Solutions: How to Help Drainage for Lawns


How to Fix a Bumpy Lawn: Step-by-Step Guide

The following step-by-step guide shows you how to fix a bumpy lawn.

Step 1: Choose Your Leveling Material

lawn leveling sand

You have several options for filling materials for a bumpy lawn, including topsoil, compost, or sand. You can also use a combination of these, depending on what you have to hand. 

Combining sand and compost offers the best of both worlds. The compost boots the current soil's organic material, while the sand adds structure. Topsoil is also an option and gives the grass a substrate it can use readily. An excellent compost choice is CarbonizPN.

CarbonizPN Soil Enhancer benefits all lawn types and can be mixed with sand to create a rich lawn-leveling mix. It doesn't require immediate watering and can be used with granular fertilizer and other lawn care products.

carbonizpn on lawn

 

Related: What Is a Lawn Biostimulant and Why Are They Important?


Step 2: Acquire The Tools You Need

wheelbarrow and tools

The next step is to gather the tools you need. For the best results, invest in a lawn leveling rake. This tool makes it more straightforward to smooth your leveling mix and achieve a flat surface. 

You can use a standard rake and a shovel if you don't have a leveling rake.  However, this tends to be more work, and the results aren't as good as those produced by a dedicated leveling rake.

Lawn Leveling Lawn Equipment Checklist

     ✅ Wheelbarrow 

     ✅ Shovel

     ✅ Levelling rake

     ✅ Broadcast spreader

     ✅ Core aerator tool.


rake and shovel on lawn

TOP TIP: Mowing your lawn shorter makes it easier to see where you'll need to add your top dressing mix.  

Step 3: Core Aerate Your Lawn

The next step is to assess your lawn's situation and understand what might be causing the bumpiness. As discussed, it could be the weather, pets, pests, poor mowing techniques, and even poor drainage. 

Core aeration is an important step in leveling a bumpy lawn by reducing compaction. The core aeration process removes small plugs from your lawn and relieves compaction by opening up the soil profile.  

Before core aerating, ensure your grass is actively growing. Spring and fall are ideal times of year to core aerate. Water the lawn thoroughly a couple of days before as this makes it easier to remove soil cores. You should also remove debris like heavy leaves and twigs from the lawn.




Step 4: Apply Essential-G Biostimulant

With the soil profile opened up from core aeration, now is the time to speed up recovery by adding biostimulants and fertilizer.

Essential-G™ is a versatile granular biostimulant designed to enhance your lawn's health through improved soil quality. One bag covers up to 4000 square feet, offering enhanced soil fertility and easy spreadability with a broadcast spreader. It contains compost, biochar, humate, reclaimed coffee grounds, and silicon, making it a comprehensive soil amendment. 

Essential-G should be applied after core aeration to fast-track nutrient uptake. The product is eco-friendly for a responsible and sustainable lawn care program.

ESSENTIAL-G™


Step 5: Apply Fertilizer to Speed Recovery

Apply your chosen lawn fertilizer. If you're unsure what the best lawn fertilizer for your lawn is, we recommend doing a soil test to see which nutrients are lacking in your soil. 

16-0-8 on lawn

 

One of the best top-dressing fertilizers is Lebanon Turf's Humic Max. This high-performance fertilizer encourages a quick grass green-up and is excellent for all grass types. 

Apply humic max at a rate of 3 lb per 1000 sq. ft. Alternatively; starter fertilizer can be used here too. When combined with fertilizer, it will build up and enhance the soil quality. 

Step 6:  Fill the Low Spots with Leveling Mix

leveling a bumpy lawn

With the lawn biostimulants and fertilizer applied, let's move on to leveling your bumpy lawn. Fill low spots (holes or depressions in your lawn) with the sand, compost, or topsoil mixture. The goal is to make any low areas flush with the surrounding lawn. Your leveling rake will make this process quick. 

Use your feet during leveling to compact the soil into the low spot. Then, add more leveling mix to top it up until it is level again with the surrounding turf. Keep repeating until you are happy with the results. Adopting this approach prevents you from having to re-apply more leveling mix later.

When leveling your bumpy areas, do your best to leave the grass tips exposed. This allows the grass to catch sunlight, promoting new growth and faster recovery. 

If the bumpy area is large — perhaps due to the way the lawn was mown in the past — you can apply a similar process. Ensure the soil gets into all the depressions and low spots, evening them out. Use one cubic yard of leveling mix per 1000 square feet for good coverage.

If you're planning to overseed your lawn, now would be the time to spread the grass seed and rake it in.

Adding sand to level bumpy lawn

 

Step 7:  Water Lawn After Leveling

Once you've completed leveling the bumpy areas, water the lawn to help the material settle. You can use a watering can, garden hose, or automatic irrigation system.

watering in top dressing mix

You should notice the grass growing through the leveling mix in roughly one week. If done properly, your grass will regrow evenly, thick, and strong through the smooth new surface.



Additional Tips for Leveling a Bumpy Lawn

Here are some more lawn leveling tips: 

  • Ensure you water your newly-leveled lawn regularly to improve grass recovery.
  • Choose the right time of year to level your lawn (which is late spring for most grasses but also the fall for cool-season species)
  • The lawn leveling process is an ideal time to overseed cool-season lawns.
  • Remove excess thatch to prevent uneven growth and improve soil access to water and nutrients.
  • Use pre-emergent herbicides in early spring to prevent weed seeds from germinating.
  • Vary your mowing pattern each time to avoid creating ruts and compacting the soil in the same areas.
  • Be prepared to repeat the leveling process periodically. Some lawns may require more than one application of leveling mix to achieve the desired smoothness.

 Related: A Complete Guide to Top Dressing Your Lawn


7 Reasons Why You Should Level Your Lawn

  1. Improved drainage: A level lawn helps to ensure proper drainage, preventing water from pooling in low spots, which can lead to waterlogged soil, root rot, and other issues.
  2. Easier maintenance: A smooth, even lawn is easier to mow and maintain. Uneven ground can cause problems for mowers, leading to uneven cuts and potential damage to the mower.
  3. Enhanced appearance: A level landscape looks more attractive and well-maintained. It creates a uniform, manicured appearance that enhances the overall aesthetic of a property. This is particularly important if you want to sell your property, as an even lawn will be much more attractive to potential buyers.
  4. Safer recreation: A flat lawn provides a safer surface for outdoor activities and play. Uneven terrain can be a tripping hazard, especially for children and older adults.
  5. Promoting healthy grass growth: Leveling a lawn can help to ensure even distribution of water, fertilizer, and sunlight, promoting healthier and more uniform grass growth.
  6. Preventing erosion: In areas with slopes or dips, soil erosion can be an issue. Leveling the lawn helps to minimize erosion by providing a more stable surface.
  7. Improving usability: For those who use their lawns for sports, entertaining, or other activities, a flat surface is more functional and enjoyable.

Bumpy Lawn Begone!

So, there you have it: how to level your lawn like a professional. Leveling a bumpy lawn is a big commitment, but it ensures your lawn can achieve a beautifully smooth finish that will be unmatched in your neighborhood! 

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