At some point in any homeowner’s life, they are going to encounter a low spot, hole, or depression in their lawn. Having an uneven grade can be hazardous in that you may trip or twist an ankle. I’ve got a method to fix those spots without having to reseed. And with this method you can fix it in 10 minutes or less!
My process can cover low spots of almost any size. From shallow ruts to large depressions in the middle of your yard. And it is the perfect method for the regular, run of the mill low spots one may encounter after removing a shrub, removing an old post, or general digging.
The main process for fixing low spots in your lawn can be summarized as follows:
To fix low spots in your lawn, cut a sod pad the covers the entire low spot 1-2″ thick, taking care to follow the ground profile. Then, flip the sod over and fill in the low spot with top soil. Next, replace the sod pad and compress it by walking or jumping. Check to see if the spot is now level.
Tools and Materials for fixing low spots in lawn
You don’t need anything fancy to repair low-spots in your lawn. Just regular common garden tools is all that you need.
- A level stick – you need some kind of way to measure the low spot, determine the edges. A simple 2×4 will work, broomstick, or a 4′ level will be sufficient.
- A flat shovel, aka garden spade. This is the same shovel I made famous with my method to remove grass! If you don’t have one, you can find a link to it on our recommended products page.
- A wheelbarrow. This is nice to have for hauling bags of top-soil, but isn’t truly necessary. But, if you have a wheelbarrow, you should use it.
- Topsoil. You will need a bag or two of top-soil for each low spot you intend to fix on your lawn.
Determine low-spot depth
Before we go any further, you should estimate how deep your low-spots are. If your low spots are very shallow, only 1/2″ or 1″ deep, you really won’t need any equipment except a rake and a bag of topsoil.
Fixing lawn low-spots less than 1″ deep (2.5 cm)
For shallow low spots that are 1″ deep or less, all you need to do to raise the grade is to sprinkle topsoil on the lowspot and rake it in. Just make sure that half of the grass blade length is sticking up through the topsoil, and you should be fine. The soil will settle and the grass will naturally raise it’s root crown.
For larger, deeper low-spots
To fix low spots in your lawn greater than 1″ deep, you will need to perform the following steps. This process takes about 5-10 minutes for a low spot that is 3-4″ deep by 2-3′ wide. Note – it helps to have moist soil before starting this job. So, adequately water the soil the day before you intend to fix low spots in your lawn.
Step 1- Locate edges of low spot
Lay your measuring / level stick across the low-spot. Feeling with your hand, find the edges of the low spot, where the stick no-longer contacts the ground. Using your garden spade, stab into the edge about 2″ and lift the edge of the sod to mark the edges on each side. Rotate the stick 90 degrees and repeat this step.
Step 2 – Gently life the perimeter edge
With your four ‘corners’ marked, use your garden spade to mark/lift the edge of the low spot. You do this so that you know where to start and stop your cuts in Step 3.
Step 3 – Slice underneath the sod, following profile
With the entire perimeter of the low spot marked, use your garden spade to slice a 1-2″ thick sod pad to the half-way point of the low-spot. Do this in increments around the whole profile. Take care to follow the contour of the ground, as our goal is to remove a sod pad that covers the low-spot, but we want it to be of even thickness.
Step 4 – Flip sod pad
Once you have completed Step 3 around the entire profile, use your shovel or your hands to flip over the sod pad. If your low spot is large or you find the sod pad too heavy, you can use your shovel to cut the sod pad up into two or more pieces.
*Note – if you are performing this job in the Summer, it is a good idea to water the soil in the low spot at this point.
Step 5 – Fill in hole
Use your topsoil to fill in the low spot or depression on your lawn. As you do this, pound/compress the topsoil. It will settle anyway, and it is better if you know how much know rather than having to fix the same low spot later!
Step 6 – Replace sod pad
Flip the sod pad back over to it’s original position. Try to keep it lined up.
Step 7 – Ensure good contact of sod pad
Walk or jump on the sod pad to further compress the top soil. Check the area for being level using your stick. If you find a smaller void/low spot, or a bump, you can simply flip over the sod pad again and adjust the topsoil. So, it is kind of a trail and error at the moment.
But once the spot seems level (as checked with your measurement level), compress the soil. I really find jumping to be the most effective way.
While compact soil on lawns is not desirable, we can fix that with an plugger or aerator in the fall. Right now we are trying to fix a low spot!
You can see this whole process in action below on a short video we made:
If you fix low spots during warm weather (70F or higher), or during Summer, you will need to water the low spot the same as if you just laid down fresh sod. That is fairly obvious, as we are basically cutting our own sod pad, and replacing it.
So, water before you begin the work to soften the soil. Water again after replacing the sod. And plan on watering every couple of days for a week or two until the grass reestablishes itself.
Best time to fix low-spots in lawn
The best time to fix low-spots in your lawn is in early to mid-Spring before warm temperatures arrive. That is for a couple of reasons. The first is that the grass roots are a bit thinner and weaker, which is good for this process as we are cutting the roots with a shovel.
The second reason is that we have cooler temperatures. Now, this isn’t just that cooler temperatures are nice to do hard yard work, but the cooler temperatures mean the grass will have less heat load. Therefore it won’t need much (if any) water. During Spring, the soil is generally cool and moist!
For fill material, you may be tempted to use compost or composted manure, or something similar to fill in the low spot. But you should only use top-soil to fill in low spots in your lawn.
While compost is absolutely great for soil health and contains nutrients and microorganisms, it won’t last forever! Micro-organisms in the soil, and the grass itself will slowly consume the compost, and you will once again have a low spot.
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