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Levelling a Garden Slope | How to Level a Sloping Garden?

Keith Hardy - Bio Photo
Keith Hardy
Senior Editor

Keith has been involved in the gardening and landscaping industry for the past 21 years. From a jobbing gardener to running his own landscaping services....

Last Updated on February 4, 2022

Level a sloping garden. A sloping garden or yard may be a difficult challenge for any homeowner to deal with in practical terms. In addition to being aesthetically unappealing, steep slopes can cause soil erosion and floods. However, thanks to a simple procedures, it is possible to correct a garden slope garden that will help you enjoy and make the best of your garden or yard.

Levelling a Sloping Garden | Why You Might Want To Level Out Your Yard 

Sadly, it’s difficult to accomplish much with a sloping garden, particularly if it’s quite steep. Furniture will not be level, sitting or lying on the grass will be unpleasant, and the gradient will disrupt with activities.

However, just because an area has a slope doesn’t imply it’s totally inaccessible as by using one of various different techniques you can correct your garden or yard slope.

The primary motivation for levelling a sloping garden is to increase the amount of usable area. Leveling out your garden isn’t just about making it more comfortable to spend time in; it may also help prevent floods and soil erosion.

Among the additional advantages of levelling a sloping garden are the following:

  • With addition to directing water away from your property, it aids in drainage.
  • Flat lawns are simpler to mow than hills.
  • In order for the soil to absorb more nutrients, a lawn must be level.
  • There is more room for adults to unwind or for children to play.

The best way to level a garden

Level a Sloping Garden

A garden’s design and the inclination of the area determine the best method for levelling it. Getting rid of lumps and bumps in the grass may be all you need to do to make it look its best, be comfortable to sit or lie down on, and be safe for children to play on it. Having a level lawn makes it easier to mow and ensures that rain is absorbed equally, which improves the health of the grass.

As mentioned above, if you have a sloping landscape, you may not be able to fully utilise all of the available area. That’s why levelling a sloping garden maybe necessary if you want to make full use of the available space your garden or yard offers for a variety of activities and also make it easier to maintain.

The two principle methods are levelling the garden or yard, which we shall look at in detail below, are leveling as a whole or if it is particularly steep, creating a series of terraces or steps, particularly attractive if you are looking to segment the garden or yard between decking  or patio and lawn and plating areas. 

How to Level a Sloping Garden

As mentioned there are various different approaches you can take when it comes to leveling your garden or yard. The method that you will used will probably depend on a number of factors such as how steep the slope is and garden size. Below we will look at the step by step approach to level a sloping garden as a whole. 

Basic Equipment That You Will Need To Level a Garden Slope

The true is leveling up a a garden slope can be a massive project, however the list of equipment you’ll need isn’t that lengthy.

  • A handful of pegs and some thread for measuring the rise and run of your present garden.
  • A spirit level to confirm items are flat.
  • Water to wet your soil.
  • A shovel to dig with.
  • The supplies and material required to build your retaining wall (discussed below) 

Level a Sloping Garden | Grading 

Grading is the process of arranging land to divert water drainage in a particular direction. Grading is typically done to direct water away from existing structures.

Grading is important before levelling the garden slope in order to make sure that the rain water run-off is flowing in the appropriate direction and not towards your building or other structure.

A simple eye exam will show you areas you need to improve on. Go round your building to detect low places. Use sand to fill the spaces up, then make the space compact by hitting it with the back of your shovel.

Grading will guarantee that water drains away from your structure after levelling.

Checking Underground Utilities

It is important to contact your local utility suppliers and inform them of your intentions to level a sloping garden . Until inspectors visit to check, identify, and name any underground electricity, water, and telephone lines, that might be underneath your garden or yard. This is likely to be particularly important if the ground you are looking to level is at the front of your building.

Establishing the Angle of the Garden Slope

The next step is to determine the slope of your garden or yard. A sloping garden in some instances, can be as steep as 45 degrees or as shallow as 3 degrees. The ideal slope is between 10-15 degrees which helps with poor drainage and irrigation.

Determining the slope will allow you to establish the height of the retaining wall that will be required as well as the quantity of dirt you’ll need to fill in the space behind it when it’s finished. 

Two stakes are driven into the ground, one at the top and one at the bottom of the slope, with a string connected between them. The length of the string is referred to as the ‘run,’ and the height of the string at the second stake is referred to as the ‘rise.’

It is important that the string on the top stake be at ground level and that it extend all the way to the other stake. At this stage, you should lay a spirit level on the line to ensure that it is perfectly levelled. It’s critical to do this properly particularly if you are laying new grass as it will be laid out in the same direction as the run.

If you recall your school mathematics, the rise and run measurements provide you with two sides of a triangle whose area can be calculated using simple algebra. Taking the size of this triangle and multiplying it by the length of your retaining wall will give you an estimate of the approximate volume of the space that will have to be filled at the back of the retaining wall.

Removing the Topsoil 

The next task to level a sloping garden is to remove the complete layer of topsoil on the ground you are looking to level. The top soil is the rich, black material that accounts for around the top 5-8 inches of the ground.

Keep the soils and stack it in a handy position where it will not be disturbed as you will use it on top of the new level stable base that you will build.

Constructing the Retaining Wall

A retaining wall is meant to sustain the freshly elevated ground in your yard, and to prevent your fine new level grass from collapsing after rain. The retaining wall keeps back the pressure of the earth and, when it rains, the water that soaks into it.

It’s critically crucial that the materials chosen for the wall be strong enough to prevent the chance of it collapsing, but we’ll explore this in the following section.

Building a retaining wall might involve some hefty lifting You should strive for a retaining wall no more than two feet tall. Beyond this stage they are exposed to enormous quantities of pressure that make collapse more probable.

If the rise of your sloping garden is over two feet, consider installing a series of terraces instead. This tutorial is targeted at levelling a sloping garden, although the technique for building a succession of terraces is comparable.

Building Up the Soil Level Behind the Retaining Wall

Once the retaining wall is completed and sturdy, load in dirt behind it. This dirt will make up your new, level garden – thus it’s crucial to execute this step carefully until level ground is reached.

The bottom of the slope may be built up by adding purchased subsoil to it. To build an inclination away from any neighbouring structures, scatter the soil over the area to be levelled. Distribute the soil in such a manner that every 50 square feet of land has a slope of 12 inches. Continually rake the surface of the ground until it is perfectly smooth.

If you are only elevating a lawn you might order in dirt to fill the space behind your retaining wall.

Level the Ground and Create Solid Base

Level the Ground and Create Solid Base

Take a heavy roller and roll in rows over the ground to compress the soil and keep it from sinking and creating a stable base.

Using a spade or shovel, fill any depressions that may have formed with extra subsoil. Rake the dirt surface with your hands to smooth it out. Roll the grass roller over the ground with your feet once more.

Place an long piece of  board  around 4-6 inches wide on the ground at the top of the slope. Place it so that its length pointed down the slope, with one end of the board level with the top horizontal edge of the slope. Lift the bottom end of the board until the  spirit level indicates that it is level, then set another level on top and continue the procedure.

Measure the distance between the raised end of the board and the ground below the lifted end of the board using a measuring tape or a ruler. Your grade is correct if the distance between the two points is 2 inches. Repeat this method down the whole length of the slope to maintain an equal gradient.

Lay New Lawn or Build the Structure 

Once you have a stable base you replace the topsoil that you initially removed and either lay your new lawn on the exposed soil or build a patio or add decking if that is your goal.

In terns of laying a new lawn, if you’re starting from seed, sprinkle the seeds evenly over the soil according to the instructions on the seed package.

If you’re using turf, make sure the sheets are as level and near together as possible. It will be almost hard to notice the lines or gaps between the various pieces after they have taken root.

Levelling a Garden Slope Using Terraces

evelling a Garden Slope Using Terraces

The most effective method of levelling a sloping garden is to build terraces inside the garden to create level sections of the garden.

How to level a sloping garden using terraces

To level a sloping garden sometimes the best course of action is to use terraces. To create miniature stair-like terraces on mild slopes, wood retainers may be used in conjunction with a retaining wall. In this situation, moving the dirt about the garden is doable, and it is a work that can be completed by the homeowner.

Retaining walls will probably be necessary on steeper slopes in order to hold the soil in place, and the soil should then be heaped up behind the retaining walls. Retaining walls may be visually appealing elements, and they can be constructed from a variety of materials including bricks, stone, sleepers, gabions (wire cages filled with stones), and unique concrete blocks, among others.

It would probably be a good idea to hire a builder, fencer or professional landscaper to help this project since the retaining walls would need to be very sturdy. In exceptional circumstances you may even need to consult with a structural engineer to determine the design of the retaining wall. It is possible for walls to collapse if they are not designed appropriately for your specific plot, causing significant damage and expense.

Determine and mark the number of terraces.

You can compute the number of terrace levels by using the run and rise numbers.

It is preferable to have a lower rise on each terrace since it ensures greater integrity. Generally, when building terraces, each terrace has a 2 foot elevation and a 5 foot run. However, if you can construct a physically robust holding wall, you may still have a greater elevation.

When the increase in elevation is significant, there is always a chance the the retaining wall will be put under too much strain weakening its integrity and possibly causing substantial damage.


How long will it take to level a sloping garden ?

Unfortunately, there is no simple solution. The time required will be determined by a number of variables, including:

  • The dimensions of your garden.
  • How many individuals are assisting?
  • The slope’s steepness.
  • As previously said, don’t expect this to be a fast task.

With an average garden sizes most experienced gardeners or landscapers suggest you allow least a fortnight, to  level a sloping garden or yard.

How do you drain a sloping garden?

‘Soakaways (basically a pit in the ground filled with rubble) are a wonderful, ecological choice for supplying drainage for your sloping garden designs.

This is due to the fact that ‘you’re not putting extra water into drainage, but rather diverting it away from the surface to soak into the soil underneath.’

Do I need permission to level my garden?

Much will depend on the rules of you local authority or city government. The main issues are possible utilities that run under the slope that you intend to level and whether the retaining wall needs planning permission.

It is always best to contact your utility suppliers just to check before proceeding with any work on levelling your garden or yard.

In terms of planning permission each area is likely to be different. Again it is best to check before commencing any work to level a sloping garden .

One other area to consider is the historic nature of your land or building. If there is a listed building status you could easily run into trouble. Again check before beginning any work.

How much does it cost to level a sloping garden ?

The cost to level a sloping garden varies on various aspects, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution, but it is often in the hundreds of pounds range. A day’s labour for one guy will cost roughly $150-$300, and it does not have to be a skilled work, but there are certain dangers to avoid before you contemplate saving money by doing it yourself and ignoring expert advise.

It is critical to end with a level area, otherwise you will create more difficulties than you solve. A retaining wall will also be required to resist the buildup of soil pressure. Terraced designs that are complex and ornate and are a solution for long and/or steep slopes may cost many thousands of dollars and will need the services of a landscape designer and even a structural engineer.

Keith Hardy - Bio Photo
Keith HardySenior Editor

Keith has been involved in the gardening and landscaping industry for the past 21 years. From a jobbing gardener to running his own landscaping services. He is now dedicated to bringing you the latest in gardening news. Read more

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