Sumo Gardener

How To Level a Bumpy Lawn – Causes and Fixes

Over time, lawns can become uneven and bumpy, turning your garden’s pride and joy into a lumpy, unattractive tripping hazard that is why it is essential to learn how to level a bumpy lawn.

Fortunately, it’s a fairly simple DIY job to level a bumpy lawn – just follow our guide on how to level lawn. Here’s a helpful guide on the reasons why your lawn has become uneven, how to care for your lawn to help keep it level, and, of course, how to level a lawn.


How to Level a Bumpy Lawn

Why Knowing How to Level a Bumpy Lawn is Important? 

how to fix a bumpy lawn

Besides making your lawn more attractive, evening it out makes it a safe space for any activity, whether it’s your kids throwing a ball and running around, or you working in the garden on the weekend. An unexpected depression in your lawn can make for a nasty fall!

A level lawn is also a healthier lawn! It means you won’t have pools of water that cause grass to rot or make your grass vulnerable to diseases, and everyday yard maintenance like mowing your lawn is made so much easier.

Common Causes for a Bumpy Lawn

how to level bumpy lawn

There are several reasons why your lawn has developed an uneven surface, and knowing what has created this issue can help you prevent it from occurring again in future.

Poor Drainage

Drainage problems are the most common reason for a lawn to become uneven. It’s also a problem for your lawn health, as waterlogging puts your grass at risk of disease and rot.

You can get better lawn drainage by extending your downspout so that it goes directly into a drain rather than into a flowerbed or onto the lawn.

Creating a French drain to move excess water off your lawn, and changing your landscaping so that your lawn and garden slopes gently away from your house.

Seasonal Freeze-Thaw

If you live in an area that gets freezing cold in winter, the freeze-thaw that occurs during the spring can lead to a lumpy lawn.

This is because logs and organic matter in the soil freezes during winter, then breaks down as it decays and thaws, causing a void underground that collapses, leading to a depression in your lawn.

Poor Lawn Health

If your lawn is unhealthy, it can become patchy and diseased, creating areas of erosion that turn into depressions over time.

To keep your lawn even, you need strong, healthy grass. That means choosing the right variety of grass for your climate, watering your lawn properly, and knowing how to fertilize your lawn.

Nightcrawler Earthworms

Nightcrawler Earth worms can do considerable damage to a lawn

Source: Minnesota University

Nightcrawlers are huge earthworms can move up to 20 tons of soil to the surface each year! They are a beneficial creature to have in your garden, helping to aerate soil to allow plant roots to easily access nutrients and oxygen. 

Even their waste is good for the soil. If you are worried that you have too many of these earthworms, you can try to lower the pH level of your soil.

Click here for our guide on how to understand and adjust your soil's pH

However, it is usually a good idea to keep these worms for the benefits they provide, even if it means your lawn can get a little lumpy on occasion.

What is the Best Time of Year to Level an Uneven Lawn?

Spring is the best time of year to take on this project, as the soil will be softer and more workable after the winter and it means you can prepare your lawn in order to take advantage of the grass seeds and strong growth the warmer weather brings.

Tools You Will Need to Level an Uneven Lawn

You don’t need a lot of lawn leveling equipment, but you will need:

how to level a bumpy lawn

Levelling Shallow Spots in Your Lawn

Shallow depressions in your lawn that are about an inch or so deep can be fixed with the application of lawn dressing/top dressing from your local garden center.

Here’s how to level a yard with shallow spots

  1. Buy a quality top dressing mixture.
  2. Pour it into the shallow spot in your lawn. 
  3. Use a garden rake to even it out. (Use a lawn roller if available)
  4. Compact the soil by stepping onto it gently.
  5. Lightly irrigate this spot to further compact the soil and encourage grass growth.

You can also apply some grass seeds by mixing them into the topdressing as you apply it. If you do this, remember to keep the soil moist (not waterlogged) at all times to help the grass seeds grow.

Levelling Deeper Spots in Your Lawn

For deeper depressions, you can use a method that is known as “sweeping the dirt under the carpet” because that’s exactly what you do! These depressions are too deep for the grass to grow up from under the new top dressing, so it needs to go under the turf itself.

how to level a yard

Here’s how to level a lawn with deep drops

  1. Cut along the edges of the turf around the depression using a flat-edged garden spade. Make clean, vertical cuts to minimize damage to the roots.
  2. Remove the square of turf and place it gently to one side.
  3. Fill the hole with top dressing to bring it to the same level as the rest of your lawn, evening it out with your rake.
  4. Gently stand on the filled hole to compress the soil and water it lightly.
  5. Replace the turf, pressing it gently into the new soil.
  6. Water the turf lightly to encourage growth, and keep this grass moist for a week or two so that it can recover.
  7. When you start seeing new growth, the grass has recovered and settled in successfully.

Here is a useful video on how to level bumpy lawn

Keeping Your Lawn in Good Shape

Once you have addressed the underlying cause for your bumpy lawn (especially if it is a drainage issue) and know how to level lawn properly, it is important to keep your lawn healthy and thriving if you want to prevent or at least minimize lumps and depressions in your lawn. This means:

Now You Know How to How To Level A Bumpy Lawn!

As with any other part of your garden, lawns need a bit of attention each season to stay looking beautiful. With some top dressing, a spade and a few hours, you can complete this easy DIY project.

With our guide on how to level a bumpy lawn and maintain it with fertilizer and the right irrigation technique, you’ll be able to enjoy a smooth, attractive and safe lawn every summer!

About the Author Ann Katelyn

I'm Ann Katelyn, Creator and Chief Author of Sumo Gardener. Since I was a child I've always been fascinated with plants and gardens, and as an adult this has developed into my most loved hobby. I have dedicated most of my life to gardening and started Sumo Gardener as a way to express my knowledge about gardening with the hope of helping other people's gardens thrive.

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Leave a Comment:

Jesse says August 20, 2018

Thank you for sharing!

John Stearns says August 24, 2018

You missed the worst of all the moles

Nancy E Dillow says June 13, 2019

Yeah, this sounds good, but the builders in my new neighborhood just “threw” the sod pieces down on top of the clay (or, Texas Gumbo as we call it). There are hills and valleys all over. First of all, they were going to roll the yard after I sprinkled it for hours. Didn’t happen. They came in with topsoil and raked it into the valleys. Dry dirt! Then they raked the dry soil down into the valleys. Then, I sprinkled it, and it did not appreciably change at all. So, we are back to the rolling.

Judy says July 8, 2019

What implement is attached to the bobcat to level the lawn?

Briam Raul Carbajal Salas says April 4, 2020

Thank you Very much!

Carol says May 4, 2020

How do you get rid of crawfish making mud piles all over the yard?

    Ann Katelyn says May 6, 2020

    Hey Carol, I am assuming you were meant to write nightcrawlers rather then crawfish. Nightcrawlers, also known as earthworms, are very beneficial to lawns and gardens, aerating the soil, recycling organic matter like compost and supplying plants, grass and trees with useful nutrients through their waste. They’re a sign of a healthy ecosystem and, as a result, we don’t recommend that you get rid of them.

    However, if they are making your lawn very bumpy and unusable, then you can do a few things to help control them and repair your lawn:

    Aerating the lawn in the spring and fall, followed by rolling it flat with a lawn roller will remove these bumps.

    Fill any deeper depressions with top dressing, as explained above.

    Create a mix of soap and water, pouring a few gallons of it onto the area where the nightcrawlers are concentrated. This will cause them to come up for air within a few minutes. You can then remove them to a flower bed or kill them.

    You can also try flood areas of your lawn where the nightcrawlers are concentrated. They need air to breath, so they will come up out of the lawn if it gets waterlogged (that’s why you often see them during rainy weather). Exposure to the hot sun will then kill them.

    If the problem is very severe, you can apply a granular grub insecticide over the lawn, applying 1.9 pounds evenly per 1000 square feet of lawn and watering it in. This should be a last resort, as it will kill all insect grubs in the lawn whether they are beneficial or not.

    I hope you found these answers helpful, please let me know if I can be of more assistance.

    Thanks Ann

Zane says February 14, 2021

So you’re telling me I can level my lawn by filling in the holes with dirt? Man- that’s good advice

David Andrews says March 14, 2021

Carol asked about crawdads/crawfish and ment it I am sure that she lives in the south. I had never seen anything like them living in Iowa but moved to Mobile and sure enough crawdad cones in the lawn. They look like small termite nests that you would find on the African plains. Best thing i found is to go out about once a week and just step on them and try to get the dirt back in the hole.

    Ann says March 16, 2021

    Thank you for the insights, David.

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