DIY Ideas – How to level ground by hand

  • 4 minutes
  • 26 July 2019

Need to level uneven ground or a sloping backyard? These DIY ideas explore how to level ground by hand and transform your outdoor area into a functional oasis…with no machinery required!

Topdressing your lawn

If you would like to know how to level ground on a very slight slope or over a grassed area, you might be able to get away with the slow, steady method of topdressing. Firstly, sprinkle a shallow layer of top dressing over the low ground areas during prime lawn growth periods. Be sure that it’s thin enough for the grass to grow through; otherwise, you might end up smothering your lawn.
Then once the lawn has adequately grown over this layer of topdressing, add another layer. Over time, you can build up enough layers to effectively level out your lawn.

VougeWall boundary wall

How to level ground by shuffling soil

If topdressing isn’t an option, a simple ‘shuffle’ system might be the way to go. Set up a grid with string guides, creating square metre sections. Using a spirit level, ensure the string guides are level and positioned halfway between the lowest and highest ground heights. Also, note that you may want a slight gradient for drainage; decide where the rainwater should drain to, and then add a subtle depreciation in that direction.

Once that’s set up, it’s time to start ‘shufflin!’ Working from the higher end, start taking soil from the ‘high squares’ and depositing them onto the ‘low squares’. Use the string guides to determine how much soil to move. You may need a wheelbarrow to transport the soil if you’re covering a large area. Next, rake and tamp the soil to ensure no hidden holes and voila; you know how to level ground!

How to level ground with retaining solutions

The following ideas on how to level ground will require a retaining solution of some kind. Furthermore, depending on the height and functionality of your retaining wall, there may be additional requirements, such as site-specific engineering or council approval. Therefore, it’s best to contact your local council for any specific requirements for your project.


If you have a sharp slope over a small section of land, consider adding garden steps! Using logs, blocks, bricks or stones, you can cut into the ground, creating small rises from one level to the other.

How to level ground by hand - Tiered Retaining Wall using VogueWall

Terraced garden beds

Who doesn’t love a terraced garden? Perfect for yards with short, steep slopes, this idea can help create a lush green wall whilst creating functional planting zones. First, decide if you will cut into your slope or fill each garden bed. Your decision will determine how to approach each level and the retaining walls required. Lastly, consider different garden themes to suit your lifestyle and home’s style. 

Tiered backyard with multiple levelled zones

If your yard has a long, gradual slope, consider using DIY retaining walls to carve out different levels and zones! Kate Sparks, of Kate Sparks (formerly Little Dwellings), wowed her loyal Instagram tribe by transforming her backyard with a DIY ModularWalls retaining wall!

The easy DIY wall system meant Kate could level her lawn area. The result incorporates multiple zones for the whole family to enjoy, including:

  • Space for the kids to play 
  • Lush garden beds
  • Outdoor fireplace 
  • Extended patio with an outdoor kitchen and lounge area! 

Watch the Before Video and After Video to see Kate’s incredible DIY journey.

How to level ground by hand - DIY retaining wall by Kate Sparks

How to level ground with integrated retaining within boundary fences

All of the above retaining options are perfect if you’re after a tiered backyard solution. However, some are after a single-level, completely flat backyard. And to achieve this, there is only one DIY solution…

Traditionally, the only way to completely level a backyard was to add a retaining wall along the boundary and then install a separate fence on top. However, this was a costly, timely affair, not to mention a pretty cumbersome DIY job. On the other hand, with ModularWalls, DIYers can install a single product — a fence and retaining wall in one and seamlessly integrate up to 750mm of retaining into their boundary fences!

Discover how integrated retaining saved this homeowner almost 50% of costs, compared to a separate block retaining wall!

Now you have multiple options on how to level ground and inspiration on what you can achieve. You’re all set to begin transforming your sloping block.