How to level a garden – easiest ways to fix an uneven lawn or sloped landscape

For an outside space that looks its best and serves its purpose well all year round, you’ll need to know how to level a garden like a professional. It’s a vital step whether you’re landscaping the entire space, preparing to lay a patio or deck or, rescuing a lumpy lawn… Not to mention level ground helps with drainage and can boost your property’s curb appeal too.

If you have inherited a sloped garden design, levelling can turn a mostly unusable plot into one you can enjoy to the max by creating terraces that are flat spaces appropriate for planting and lawns, as well as suitable for seating, dining and kids to play.

The best way to level a garden

The best way to level a garden depends on the garden’s design, and how uneven or sloping the space is. You may just want to get rid of lumps and bumps in the lawn so it looks its best, is suitable for sitting or lying out on and so kids can play on it. A flat lawn is easy to mow, and rain will be absorbed evenly, making the grass healthier.

Alternatively, you may want to construct a patio or deck. If that’s the case, you’ll need to start from a level surface to build your new garden feature.

Of course, your garden may be a sloping one, leaving you with space you can’t easily use. If that’s the case levelling is imperative if you’re to create space for all sorts of garden activities, and to make tending the plot much more straightforward.

landscaping materials

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

How to level a garden by hand

If your goal is to make your lawn a more even surface or to lay a patio or deck, you can level a garden by hand. If it’s the lawn you’re concerned with, bear in mind that although lumps and bumps aren’t desirable for most people, a slight slope overall is, and one that’s gentle can create good drainage away from your home. 

For any depressions in the lawn that are around 2 to 3cm deep top dressing is the remedy. Buy a top dressing mixture or make up your own using two parts of sand, two parts topsoil and one part compost. Fill out the depressions evenly and compact the soil with your feet or a rake, then water. Leave for two days, then add grass seed and a light layer of topsoil. Water as required.

If there are deeper depressions in the lawn than this, you’ll have to dig out to about 4 to 5cm then take out any stones or lumps of soil. Compact the soil, then use top dressing as above and grass seed to fill out the bald spot. 

For lumps, you’ll need to carefully lift the turf, then remove the soil below until the area is level with the rest of the lawn. Lay the turf back down and compact it afterwards.

You can also level an area by hand if you’re adding a patio or going to lay decking in your garden. You’ll need to dig out the space to size and make it level it at the beginning of your project before continuing as necessary depending on whether it’s decking or paving slabs you’re laying. 

Sera Sekerci's dad helped her transform her garden when trapped in the UK during lockdown

(Image credit: Sera Sekerci)

How to level a sloping garden

The best way to level a sloping garden is to construct terraces within the garden to create level areas. For gentle slopes timber retainers can be used to form small, stair-like terraces. In this case moving the soil around the garden is feasible, and it can be a DIY job. 

For steeper slopes, retaining walls will be required to keep the soil in place, and the soil should then be piled up behind them. Retaining walls can be attractive features and may be formed with materials such as bricks, stone, sleepers, gabions – wire enclosures filled with stones – and special concrete blocks.  

We’d recommend calling in a professional landscaper to do this job as the retaining walls must be strong; you may even require a structural engineer in addition to specify the design of the wall. If walls are not correctly constructed for your particular plot, they can collapse with damaging and expensive results. 

Sloping Garden design by Jan Canty

(Image credit: Unsplash/Jan Canty)

How much does it cost to level a garden in the UK?

The cost to level a garden in the UK will depend on the size of the garden as well as the extent of the work is requires. If you’re calling in a professional landscaper to level then build a patio, you might expect to pay around £1,800, including materials.

If a lumpy lawn is beyond rescue and it’s a question of preparing and laying a new lawn area, including the levelling work, then expect to pay around £1,200 including turf rolls.

More extensive levelling work will be part of a landscaping project, and the final garden landscaping costs will depend on the entire design, what you build in to the space including decking, patios, lawn areas, raised beds, fencing and so on. For a smaller garden, expect to pay from around £10,000, but for larger spaces and complex designs for sloping gardens, expect to pay £50,000 and more.

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