Not all land is created equal. You are lucky if you get a house with a yard that is even, but the truth is, that is not always the case for everyone. Sometimes, particularly if you are in less urbanized areas, you might end up with a yard that is sloping. This is problematic since aside from the fact that it won’t be pleasing to look at, it can also promote flooding and soil erosion. It will be also hard to maintain.
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Not only that. If you are planning to turn it into a garden, different plants will receive varying amounts of sunlight. This would particularly be an issue if you’re growing vegetables since they probably would not bear fruit or mature all at the same time.
If your yard is only slightly sloped, with no large impediments, then you might be able to do the even it out by yourself, but otherwise, you might need the help of other people. Leveling a sloping yard is quite challenging, but it is not impossible.
Tools and Materials Needed to Level a Yard
Here are the tools you need to complete leveling a sloping yard:
- Water to soften the soil.
- Retaining wall materials.
- Shovel or excavator depending on the measurement of the land and steep of the slope
- Spirit level to check for accuracy.
- Stakes and string.
- Soil compactor.
- Thatch or landscaping rake
- Grass seed or sod
Steps in Leveling a Sloping Yard
1. Talk to the Authorities First to Avoid Issues
Leveling a sloped yard is not that easy, and along the way, you might have issues with building codes or utility wires and pipes that you did not know are there. To prevent this from happening, contact the utility companies concerned as well as your local government office and ask them the necessary questions and inform them about your plans.
2. Clean It Up
Once you have gotten the approval of the concerned utility companies and your local government office, begin by making sure that patch of land that you are going to work on will have very little to no impediments.
Remove large rocks, debris, and vegetation. If there are plants you wish to save, transplant them into pots.
3. Measure the Rise and Run of the Slope
Drive a wooden stake into the ground at the top of the slope (this will be your “first stake”) and another one at the bottom. Tie a string around the first stake and tie it to the other stake such that the string is completely level.
The run is the length of the string, while the rise is the distance between the string’s location on the second stake and the ground.
4. Water the Soil
To make the digging process a lot easier, water the ground about 24 hours earlier. Make sure to not put too much water such that the ground becomes runny. That would be just as hard to work with as dry soil. Just make sure that it is damp and soft.
5. Put Up a Retaining Wall
A retaining wall is important since it will serve as the support of that part of your garden that you are going to raise. A retaining wall will prevent it from collapsing especially if it rains hard soon after you have leveled it. The first row of pavers must be about 4 inches deep into the ground. From the first row, build the pavers up, making sure you interlock the blocks.
Keep doing this until you build a wall to the height of your “rise.” You may use mortar to make the structure stronger. Take note that ideally, the retaining wall must be just two feet tall or less. If the rise of the slope is greater, you might want to consider making terraces instead.
6. Bring in the Soil
This is when the bulk of the leveling is done. Dig up and remove the topsoil–the 8 inches of soil closest to the surface–of your sloped yard with a track loader or skid steer loader. Set this aside. Then, bring in the dirt to fill your yard up to the level of the string attached to your two stakes. When you are close enough to fill your yard up to the level of the string, top it off with a layer of quality topsoil about six inches thick, since this is essential to promote the growth of plants.
7. Check That Your Yard Is Even
You can do this just by looking, or if you want to be more accurate, you can use the string-and-stake setup that you created earlier.
8. Compact the Soil
When you are done checking for evenness, flatten and compact the soil by pushing a lawn roller back and forth across the ground.
Compacting is an essential step since it prevents cavities and the formation of lumps in your yard when the rain comes. It also ensures the integrity of your newly leveled yard as well as that of your retaining wall.
9. Sow a New Lawn
If you are going to use seeds, simply scatter them all over the soil. If you are going to use turf, layout the sheets such that they are as near to one another as possible. Water regularly. You may also run a soil compactor over the turf since this will allow them to grow out of their roots much faster.
10. Plant and Decorate
When the lawn has grown, you may now do whatever you want with your newly leveled yard! You can start your garden and plant vegetables or flowers, or you may also build a deck in it, where you can hang out with your friends and family.
The time it takes to level a sloped yard depends on a number of factors such as the size of your space, the number of people who are going to help you get the work done, and the steepness of the slope. Whatever the case, by the time you are finished leveling your sloped yard and beautifying it, you’ve probably become so exhausted, but trust me, it is going to be more exhausting in the long run to maintain a yard that is uneven. Plus, with a leveled yard, there are a lot more things you can do with your space.