How to Level a Garden and Landscaping Tips

how to level a garden

Great art is often built on the foundation of a consistent surface upon which to work, and the same is true of gardening. A flat plot of grass can help reduce soil erosion whilst enabling a superior spread of water that nutrient-rich soil can absorb. In this article, we will look at some simple tips to help keep your garden looking fresh all year round.

A level surface

Level ground is a great way to minimise the risk of flooding since it enables water to be distributed away from your home in a consistent way. This also makes it far easier to maintain your lawn.

Two processes to facilitate better water management throughout your garden are grading and levelling. They achieve that result in very different ways.

  • Grading – this involves adding a slight slope to your garden. This can help provide more efficient drainage and, when applied neatly, the aesthetic it brings can make an attractive addition to your plot.
  • Levelling – this is where you create a smooth, even surface for your lawn, with no troublesome bumps or dips. Let’s take a look at how you can go about levelling your lawn.

How to level a lawn

Here we will share 7 key planning tips that will help you level out a garden slope:

1. Know the space you are working with

One of the fundamental laws of landscape gardening is to fully understand the ground you are to be shaping. You should carry out a full inspection before you even think about picking up your shovel or another tool. Are there any pipes or wires that you need to avoid? Do your planned changes comply with local building regulations?

2. Flat is not always the best solution

Often, newcomers to horticulture don’t realise that a bit of a slope in your turf can be both healthy and desirable. Having a gentle slope away from your home can actually facilitate the optimum amount of drainage. The ideal solution would be to have a downward gradient from your property of approximately a quarter of an inch for every foot. If this can’t be done, the slope of your lawn should not exceed 12 inches for every 4 feet.

3. Establish the run and rise of your garden

You can use a board and a level to get an idea of the slope in your garden. You can calculate the rise of your garden by measuring the vertical distance from the top to the bottom of the slope. The horizontal distance, meanwhile, is commonly called the run.

Begin by driving a stake into the ground at the top of your slope, and another at the bottom. Next, tie a string to the top stake at ground level, and tie it to the bottom at a height that means the strong is completely level. The string’s length is the run of your garden, while the distance between the string’s position on the bottom stake and the ground is the rise.

4. Make low spots your priority

Low spots are an eyesore, and their depth helps you judge the best method of recovering them. Any shallow spots with a depth of 2-3cm could make a DIY job relatively easy, so you could top dress the lawn yourself. To do this, you must simply fill out the dips with a combination of 2 parts sand, 2 parts topsoil and 1 part compost.

5. Time it right

The ideal time to start your improvement is in spring, because this will give your grass seeds the time they need to grow. At this time of year, there should be enough moisture to enable the soil to settle adequately. Around a week before you begin levelling your lawn, water it thoroughly to avoid the soil being too hard or dry. It’s important not to over-water it though, since damp turf is no easier to work with than dry soil. To help create the best conditions for digging, dampen the soil a second time the day before you start the work.

6. Build a solid foundation for future work

Once you are committed to a plan for levelling your garden, you should look for any deep-rooted plants or trees. These are a great way to future-proof your landscaping. If you are uncertain about where to start, head over to your local garden centre and enquire about which trees or plants are native to your area – these are the plants that will grow well.

Be sure to keep up with maintaining your garden. If you fail to keep on top of gardening you could find fallout erosion occurs. This is where layers of soil beneath the topsoil begin to shift and wash away.

7. Be realistic about whether the job is achievable for you

It is often wise to seek landscape gardening advice from a professional. This is particularly true for a garden that has more complicated needs, such as if there are low spots close to water pipes. Sometimes that unsteady ground is a consequence of the water pipes themselves, so professional advice might be crucial.

If your low spots are more pronounced, you may need an underground drainage system to prevent them from returning. Steep slopes can also be difficult for the DIY gardener, as they can erode very quickly and even lead to challenges for the foundation of your home if they are not attended to. The addition of a single wall or terracing, such as with natural stone or breeze blocks, can be one of the best solutions to this problem.

Finally, remember that no two gardens are the same. Your requirements may vary dramatically from those of your neighbour’s garden. With the help of an expert, you could get guidance and direction that saves a lot of time and money in the grand scheme of things.

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