How to Level a Plot of Land
Step 1: Define the area to be levelled
Step 2: Determine the height of the levelling
Step 3: Loosen the soil
Step 4: Remove stones and roots
Step 5: Feed the soil
Step 6: Level the ground
Step 7: Pack the soil
Step 8: Let the soil settle
Levelling a site is a mandatory step before building a house. In this case, it is usually done by a professional digger. But the garden is not necessarily levelled at this point. Therefore, you may need to level your land yourself or call a landscaping company to plant a nice lawn and install a playground or an above-ground pool. Find out how to level a plot of land effectively with our tips.
1. Define the area to be levelled
First, mark out the area levelled with wooden stakes planted in the ground and a rope or tape stretched between them.
Note: for a perfectly flat levelling, the depth or height of the stakes does not matter. The horizontal level of the string line drawn in the next step will be used as the reference.
2. Define the height of the levelling
Now you have to define the height of the levelling.
To make sure that the ground is perfectly flat, draw a line between the opposite stakes. In most cases, the line is drawn from the highest point on the ground, at the foot of the stake, and runs horizontally to the opposite stake.
Check that the line is horizontal with a spirit level.
Note: if you wish to level your pitch by a slight slope, do not use the spirit level but use the notched markers on the stakes. The stakes should then be positioned at the same depth.
3. Loosen the soil
Levelling is done by moving the soil from the high point to the low end. Depending on the size of the plot to be levelled, several tools may be needed:
You can loosen the soil with a fork and pickaxe for a small area.
For a larger area, using a rotovator or a tiller can be interesting because it allows you to lift the soil 20 to 60 cm deep with a minimum of effort.
For a vast area: the use of a mini-excavator may become essential.
Note: if you are adding soil from outside, you do not have to loosen your existing soil.
4. Remove stones and roots
Once the soil is loosened, it becomes easier to remove stones and roots that may interfere with the levelling. This tedious job is done by hand, but using a stone cutter and an uprooter can help you with this task.
Caution: If you plan to plant grass or other vegetation, leave the most petite stones buried in the soil. They keep the soil aerated and less compacted.
5. Nourish the soil
At this stage, you can take the opportunity to feed the soil with compost or dried manure or fertiliser. This applies if the land is to be used for growing crops.
On the other hand, if you are levelling the land for a garden shed or above-ground swimming pool, mix fine sand into the soil to limit plant growth.
6. Level the ground
You have now reached the moment of levelling the ground. There are several possibilities:
Use a rake and shovel to move the soil from the highest to the lowest level and then level off.
Use a ladder or a long wooden plank to bring the soil from the highest to the lowest level. This operation is easier with two people.
7. Pack the soil
Using a levelling roller, compact the soil into a flat shape. The roller may reveal defects that can be corrected immediately, as long as the floor can still be worked.
If you have to buy the roller (between $50 and $100), choose a metal model that can be filled with water. This will allow you to empty and store it easily, unlike a roller that fills with sand.
Note: If you don’t want to invest in a roller, you can use a full gas bottle. But this will be much less comfortable, especially for your back.
8. Let the soil settle
Before enjoying your levelled ground, let the soil settle for at least 48 hours:
After 48 hours, rerun the levelling roller. Sprinkle water at least three to four times to help the soil settle.
Please do not walk on the ground or put anything on it as this could cause you to sink and break the level.
Tip: If you have added topsoil or any other amendment, give your soil more time to settle.
Below is a list of equipment needed to level a plot of land.
- Gardener’s line
- Spirit level
- Wooden stakes
- Lawn roller