Garden Leveling: Leveling a Sloping Garden (Step-by-Step)

Do you have a sloping garden and don’t like it? It doesn’t have to remain that way; you can do something about it. Leveling a sloping garden may seem daunting, but it’s not that difficult. You can have the level garden of your dreams with some elbow grease or hire a professional.

There are many benefits to having a level garden, such as:

  • Reduced erosion
  • Better drainage
  • Greater stability for buildings and other structures
  • Increased usable space
  • Enhanced curb appeal

If you’re ready to level your garden, read on for everything you need to know – from the equipment you’ll need, the different methods you can use, the cost of operation, a detailed step-by-step process, tips for successful construction, and more.

Why You Might Want To Level Your Garden

As we’ve just seen, there are several reasons why you might want to level your garden. But what are the specific benefits? Let’s take a look at some of the most significant ones.

Improved Drainage

One of the biggest advantages of garden leveling is improved drainage. Water will run off more slowly if your garden slopes, leading to waterlogging and flooding. By leveling the ground, you’ll help water to drain away more quickly, preventing these problems.

Better Appearance

Another benefit of garden leveling is that it can make your garden and home look much nicer, and it generally adds to the appeal and value of a property. So, consider garden leveling if you want a beautiful porch that guests will admire.

Easier to Maintain

A level garden is much easier to maintain, as you won’t have to worry about uneven patches of grass or weeds growing in cracks. Your plants will also have a better chance of thriving if the ground is level.

Increased Safety

A sloping garden can be dangerous because it’s easy to trip and fall. This is even more of a concern if you have young children or elderly relatives. Leveling the ground will make your garden much safer for everyone.

More Space to Relax or Play

If your garden is on a slope, there’s a chance that some of the space is unusable. But if you level it, you’ll open up the area and have more space to relax or play. This is especially beneficial if you have a small garden.

Leveling a Garden by Hand vs. Garden Leveling Service

Now you know the benefits of garden leveling, let’s see how to do it. There are two main ways to level a garden – by hand or professional service. 

Leveling a Garden by Hand

If you’re handy around the house and have some time on your hands, you might be considering leveling your garden by yourself. Although it’s possible to do this, it’s not always the best option.

It can be difficult and time-consuming, especially with a large garden. You’ll also need to rent or buy the necessary equipment, which can be expensive. And if you don’t do it properly, you could end up with an uneven garden.

So, consider using a garden leveling service unless you’re confident you can do a good job.

Garden Leveling Service

Another way to level a garden is to use a professional garden leveling service. A professional service is generally a better option because it’s quick, easy, and you’re guaranteed to get a perfect result.

It will most likely cost you more because you’re not only paying for their service, you’re also paying for the tools and logistics. If you have a large garden, it’s worth considering, as it would take a long time to level it by hand.

To find a garden leveling service in your area, search online. Or, if you know someone who has leveled their garden, ask for a recommendation.

How to Choose the Best Garden Leveling Service

If you decide to use a garden leveling service, the next step is to choose the best one. Here are a few things to look for:

Experience

Look for a company that has experience in leveling gardens. This way, you can be sure they know what they’re doing.

Price

Get quotes from several companies and compare prices. But don’t just choose the cheapest option, as you might not get the best results.

Equipment

Ensure the company has the equipment to do a good job, including the essential tools discussed later in this guide. 

Reputation

Read online reviews to see what other people have said about the company. And if you know anyone who’s used them, ask for their opinion.

If you decide to level your garden yourself, keep reading to learn how to do it, the equipment you need, and ideas you can use.

Garden Leveling Tools & Equipment

If you’re going to level your garden by yourself, you’ll need the right tools and equipment. Let’s take a look at what you’ll need.

  • Shovels: You’ll need at least two shovels – one for digging and one for leveling. If you have a large garden, you might need more.
  • Rake: You’ll need a rake to help level the ground and remove debris.
  • Wheelbarrow: This will come in handy for transporting soil, debris, and other materials.
  • Garden Hose: A garden hose will help water the ground as you level it.
  • String: String will help you create a straight line to use as a guide when leveling the ground.
  • Tape Measure: A tape measure may help measure the ground and check its level.
  • Lawn Rotavator: A lawn rotavator helps with turning and preparing the soil for leveling. 
  • Lawn Roller: A lawn roller can help to level the ground and pack down the soil.
  • Protective Gloves: It’s a good idea to wear gloves when working in the garden to protect your hands from the soil, debris, and sharp objects.
  • Spirit Level: This is one of the essential tools you’ll need, as it will help you ensure the ground is level.

Leveling Garden Cost

The cost of leveling a garden will vary depending on the size, soil type, and how much work is involved.

If you’re doing it yourself, the cost will be lower since you only need to pay for the materials. If you’re using a garden leveling service, the cost will be higher because you have to pay for their time and equipment.

You can spend as low as $500 – $1500 for a garden with minimal work using a DIY approach and $1500 – $5000 for a professional service. The costs could be higher or lower depending on the following factors:

  • Materials and equipment
  • Garden size
  • Slope or soil type
  • Professional or self-service
  • Garden location

Weigh your options and decide what’s best for you and your garden.

How to Level a Sloping Garden (Steps)

1.) Measure the Height and Run of the Slope

To calculate the amount of leveling required, you’ll need to know the height and run of the slope. The height is the difference in elevation between the highest and lowest points, and the run is the horizontal distance between these two points.

For example, if the highest point is 1 meter above the lowest point, and the distance between them is 10 meters, then the height is 1 meter, and the run is 10 meters. To calculate the slope, divide the height by the run (1/10 in this case).

The result will help you determine the height of your retaining wall.

Exact Steps:

  • Place one wooden stake at the top of your garden slope and another at the bottom.
  • Attach one end of a thread/string to the low stake at ground level and the other to the high stake. Ensure that there is no slack in the line and that it is as level as possible.
  • Use a spirit level to ensure correct measurement.

2.) Rotavate and Water the Ground

loosening the soil in a garden with a tractor for leveling

The next step is to rotavate and water the ground, which will help to loosen the soil and make it easier to level. For best results, do this a day before you start leveling. If you don’t have a rotavator, hire one.

You can also use a shovel, but a rotavator will make the job easier.

After turning up the soil, water the ground thoroughly so it’s easy to move around. But only do so with caution because a waterlogged garden will be more challenging to level.

3.) Build a Retaining Wall

If the height of your slope is more than 0.5 meters, you’ll need to build a retaining wall. This wall will support the soil and stop it from sliding down the slope. Use wooden posts or concrete blocks for slopes between 0.5-1 meter. For slopes 1-2 meters, use bricks or concrete blocks.

To build a retaining wall:

  • Dig a trench around the slope’s perimeter, ensuring it’s wide and deep enough to support the wall. The trench should be about 1/3 as deep as the height of the wall.
  • Fill the trench with gravel or stones to provide drainage and stability.
  • Place the first row of bricks or blocks on top of the gravel, ensuring they’re level.
  • Continue building the wall, using mortar to hold the bricks or blocks in place.
  • Use the spirit level to ensure that each row is level with the one below.

4.) Add Soil to the Retaining Wall

After building the retaining wall, you can add soil to the garden. You’ll need to fill it up to the top of the retaining wall, so it’s level with the rest of your garden.

You can use topsoil, compost, or a mix of both. If you’re using topsoil, ensure it’s good quality and free of stones, roots, and other debris. You can buy topsoil from a gardening store or get it for free from a local construction site.

To add the soil:

  • Start at the bottom of the slope and fill in the trench around the garden’s perimeter.
  • Use a wheelbarrow to transport the soil from one point to another.
  • Use a rake to level off the soil as you go.

5.) Ensure the Garden is Level

Use a spirit level to make sure the garden is level. Check it from different angles and places to be sure; once you’re satisfied, water the garden well so that the soil settles properly.

If necessary, add more soil and water until the garden levels. Let the garden settle for a few days before planting.

6.) Compact the Soil

Compacting the soil before planting is essential so it’s not loose and unstable. This compaction will help to prevent the roots from coming out of the ground as the plants grow, and it takes care of lumps or bumps on the ground.

There are several ways to compact soil, such as:

  • Use a garden roller: This is a cylindrical object that you roll across the surface of the soil to compact.
  • Use a plate compactor: This is a heavy metal plate you push across the soil’s surface.
  • Use your feet: If you don’t have a garden roller or plate compactor, you can compact the soil with your feet. Walk back and forth across the surface of the soil until it’s compacted.

7.) Plant Grass or Flowers on Your New Level Garden

Once you’ve added the soil, it’s time to plant grass or flowers. When planting grass, ensure the soil is moist but not soggy. You can use a garden hose or sprinkler to water the ground before planting.

To plant grass seed:

  • Use a spreader to distribute the seed over the soil’s surface evenly.
  • Use a rake to cover the seeds with soil.
  • Water the ground again so that the seeds are moist.

If you’re planting flowers, dig a hole twice as wide and deep as the plant’s root ball. Place the plant in the hole and fill it with soil, tamping it around it. Water the plant well.

8.) Enjoy Your New Level Garden!

Now that your garden is level, sit back and enjoy it! Regular maintenance will help to keep it looking its best. Be sure to water the plants regularly, pull weeds, and add more soil as needed. With some care, your garden will stay level and beautiful for years.

Tips for Leveling a Sloping Garden

Here are some tips to keep in mind when leveling a sloping garden:

  • Start at the bottom of the slope and work your way up
  • Make your retaining wall no more than two feet tall
  • The spirit level is your friend! Use it often to check that everything is level
  • Compact the soil before planting to prevent lumps and bumps
  • Water the garden regularly to keep the soil moist
  • Be patient – it takes time to level a sloping garden, but it’s worth it in the end!

How Long Will it Take to Level a Sloping Garden?

The length of time it will take to level a sloping garden depends on the size of the garden and the amount of work required. If you have a small garden and only need to remove a few inches of soil, it could take as little as a day to level it. However, if you have a large garden or need to remove a lot of soil, it could take several days or weeks to level it.

Also, if you’re doing the work yourself, it will take longer than if you hire a garden leveling service. If you have the time and patience, leveling a sloping garden is a rewarding project you can do in stages over time. In addition, you will learn valuable skills and knowledge about gardening that you can use for years to come.

And perhaps, the most crucial benefit is that you will spend significantly less money when you do it yourself. So, DIY – less money; professional service – less time. Choose what suits you better.

Do I Need Permission to Level my Garden?

You may need permission from your local council to level your garden, depending on how much work is required. If you remove only a tiny amount of soil, you likely won’t need permission. However, if you’re removing a large amount of soil or making significant changes to the landscape, you may need planning permission.

It’s always best to check with your local council before starting any work on your garden. That way, you can avoid any potential problems down the road.