How to level a garden

UK Home Improvement

How To Level A Garden

Your garden is one of your property’s most important features. 

A place to relax, spend time with loved ones and (hopefully) enjoy the sunshine during the summer months, with all of this considered it is important that it’s always kept in a pristine condition. 

While you may dream of bowelling green-style lawns and think it’s unattainable, this doesn’t have to be the case. 

In fact, in most cases, there is not even the need to call in professionals as competent DIYers should have the skills required to create beautiful gardens and level lawns. 

If neglected, lawns can become unlevel, bumpy, and waterlogged and these things can create a whole host of problems that mean you will not be able to enjoy them as much as you should.

With this in mind, in this article, we’ll take a look at how to level a garden, providing you with a step-by-step guide to the process.

Read on to find out more.

What Is Levelling A Garden?

Levelling a garden is the process of removing the space’s existing turf and grass, and replacing it with a new, level surface. The purpose of levelling a garden is to restore a garden to its former glory and ensure the entire space is consistent and level so you and your loved ones can enjoy it long into the future. 

Levelling a garden might seem like an extremely specialist landscaping task, but in reality, it can be performed by almost anyone if the correct steps are followed. 

Later in this article, we’ll delve into further detail regarding how you can level a garden in the most effective way.

Why Should I Level My Garden?

There are several reasons why you should consider levelling your garden, but perhaps the biggest and main reason is to ensure you have a stunning garden that you and your loved ones can enjoy. 

As well as for social and leisurely reasons, there are also several practical and functional reasons why you should level your garden. 

For example, if you’re looking to install a patio or lay decking in your garden, it’s essential that it has a level surface to work with. If not, slabs or decking will unevenly sink into the ground which will not only look terrible but it will also create problems with the structure in the future. 

Furthermore, if you do not have level ground it will be difficult for a lawn to drain sufficiently. This is because the grass in your garden will be positioned below puddles of water which is likely to kill the grass and leave your lawn looking ugly and damaged. 

It’ll be easy to tell if your soil surface is uneven as there will be obvious sunken areas across the lawn, soggy patches that don’t take long to turn into puddles and soil subsidence which is often a result of tree roots. 

When To Level My Garden?

There are a whole host of occasions when levelling your garden and soil surface may be necessary. As well as doing so for aesthetic reasons or if you’ve noticed uneven or waterlogged areas, you should level a garden surface in the following circumstances:

Landscaping your garden: If you’re having any landscaping work done in your garden, it’s essential that it is carried out in a precise manner. If not, it may not be effective and could create issues in the future. With this in mind, if you’re considering installing garden paths, patios, decking and more, then you must make sure the ground is level before starting the work. 

Building a garden shed:If you’re looking to install a new structure in your garden, such as a garden shed or a garden office for working from home, then it must be built on level ground to ensure structural integrity. With this in mind, you should always level the surface and a concrete base is the best choice. 

Renovating your lawn: If you’re looking to renovate your lawn, whether this is laying new turf, artificial turf or sowing new grass, then levelling out the surface needs to occur before work takes place. If you do not do this, then weeds and moss will likely grow and drainage will be subpar. 

Building a swimming pool: If you’re planning on installing a garden swimming pool, the project will require a full excavation of the soil. In these instances, you need to level the ground ahead of the work. 

Installing foundations: As already mentioned, you need a level surface ahead of all building projects including installing foundations for garages, carports and more. 

Laying gravel: Often, people may choose gravel as a material for their garden or outdoor space. If the surface is not level, then the stones will travel and over time bare patches of ground will begin to appear.

How To Level A Garden 

If you’re considering levelling your garden, it’s vital that you follow the correct steps. 

While it is a significant task that can take a long time, there is no reason why you cannot do it yourself if you consider yourself a competent DIYer. 

There are two main ways to level a garden – with and without a digger. 

As most DIYers and domestic projects do not have access to such machinery, we will first look at how to level a garden without a digger.

Gather Your Tools 

Before starting the work, you should make sure you have all the necessary equipment to carry out the task successfully. This includes:

  • Spade
  • Rake
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Spirit level 
  • Garden soil 
  • Picket posts
  • Rope
  • Lawn roller
  • Knee pads 
  • Gardening gloves 

If you are also planning on laying a new lawn, then you will also need fertiliser and lawn seed. 

Make Sure The Conditions Are Right 

While you can’t always guarantee good weather in the UK, it’s best to avoid rain if possible. This is because the soil should be dry before the levelling process begins as waterlogged soil is extremely difficult to dig. 

Mark The Ground 

The first thing you should do is properly mark the area you’re working with. Place stakes in the ground to help you visualise where the work is going to take place. 

Remove Mess 

Then, clear the area of all bushes, leaves, stones and garden debris. Put the waste in your gardening bin (if you have one) or to a local landfill site to ensure it is properly disposed of. 

Remove existing turf using a spade.

Prepare The Surface 

Using a spade, take some time working the soil on the surface. Dig to a depth of 15-20cm, mixing the soil as you go. This will help you to break up the texture of the soil, making it more workable while ensuring the area is healthy and suitable for a new lawn.

Locate The Ground’s Highest Point

Next, find the highest point of the garden.

Then, connect some string from this point between the posts you’ve already installed. Use a spirit level and tension several strings across the length and width of the soil. 

While some people find the level by the eye, it is more difficult to do this.

Top Up Your Topsoil

Now, add some quality topsoil to the earth, and level it out. If you’re planning on installing paving, then you should also place some sand on top of the soil to help maintain its level. 

Even Out The Surface 

Using the height indicated by your string as a guide, use a rake to level the soil’s surface. 

Roll The Earth 

Once you’re happy the soil surface is even, tamp the ground by using the back of a spade in small areas or a roller for larger areas. 

Allow The Soil To Rest 

You should then allow the new soil to rest for a few days. This will give it time to properly level without any sunken areas causing problems. 

Water The Soil 

If you’re planning on laying a new lawn, you need to ensure the soil is moist so water it lightly.  

How To Level A Garden With A Digger 

If you do have access to a digger, then you should make the most of it as it makes the process far easier. 

You will only need a mini-digger as it will make it extremely easy to dig the soil and remove the turf. 

Follow the steps outlined above, using the digger for the steps where digging or moving soil is required.

How To Level A Garden Slope 

It’s rare for any garden to be entirely flat, so if your garden has any kind of slope it can be levelled. 

Start, by placing a wooden stake at the slope’s highest point, and another at the lowest. 

Attach string between the two stakes and make sure the line is level. Use a spirit level or laser level to ensure the line is straight and there is no slack. 

The lowest end of the lawn will then need to be reinforced with sleepers or planks of wood at the highest end of the soil. This is to ensure the ground doesn’t sink downwards. 

Then, fill out the soil using your string as a guide. 


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