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Lumpy-bumpy lawn – causes and fixes (How to repair a bumpy lawn)

One call we get a lot of in the Spring is “My lawn is really bumpy and uneven. Can you roll my lawn for me?” On the heavy clay soil we have in the GTA, nothing short of a steamroller can exert enough pressure to flatten a lawn by force. And if you did manage it, the soil would be so compact it would choke your grass to death anyway.

Lumps, bumps, holes and dips will show up on every lawn sooner or later. They happen for many different reasons throughout the year. Finding the right long-term-fix depends on the cause of the bump.
In Spring, bumps often appear as frozen, dense clay soil thaws unevenly. It  heaves and buckles like a bunched-up carpet.
Animals, both wild and pets sometimes dig holes in lawns. So do children at play, depressions can be created if people or animals walk on lawns that are too soft (like in the early spring or after long rains).  Some home gardening equipment can leave holes as well if misused.  Sometimes, just filling the disturbed soil back in and topping up with a good topsoil (hopefully weed-free), is a good repair for these holes. If they’re small the existing grass can grow over the hole. Larger spots should be seeded or even patched with sod.

If part of the lawn sinks and creates a depression the first thing to do is determine why. Removing the cause before correcting the effect is crucial. For any depression an inch or more deep, repair should involve removing the sod, correcting the cause of the sinking, and then back filling with new soil with enough extra to allow for settling. The removed sod can be put back in place if it is still in good shape, or replaced with new sod or seed. A shallow depression in the lawn – less than an inch deep – can be corrected gradually by sprinkling top dressing over it. Compost based mixes are good for this.

A very common problem is that people often perceive a lawn is bumpy when it has nothing to do with soil!  The lawn is made up of layers, for simplicity, lets say: the soil, roots, thatch, and the blades.  Thatch is the area just above the soil, that protects the roots.  It is normally about 1/4″-1″ in height of matted decomposing grass clippings and generally dying old grass plants that fade away as new plants are generated.  When you have a thin lawn or a disease or insect problem that is weakening an area (think Chinch bugs), the blades go first, then the thatch rapidly decomposes leaving bare soil. This bare area then erodes even deeper with rainfall, wind and activity. That leaves a depression when compared to the surrounding area of healthy lawn.  This is what we describe as the illusion of a bump.  Multiply that by several areas and voila! You feel like you have a bumpy lawn!

Bumps and rises also need to be diagnosed before correction. If caused by an object, it will need to be removed. If a bump is from burrowing animals they will have to be removed before the area can be smoothed. It may be possible to flatten smaller bumps by stepping on them.

The best way to correct and create a lawn that has very few bumps, is really quite simple- Ensure you have a green thick and healthy lawn. Your lawn care program should include  high-end nutrition components that thicken and fortify your grass plants, regular aeration to loosen the soil and lessen heaving, overseeeding to thicken the lawn and create a stronger more pest resistant lawn, as well as proactive insect control for Grubs and Chinch bugs.

Spring is the best AND worst time for people worried about lumpy lawn.  The ground is soft and grass grows quickly to cover any repairs, but snowmelt-saturated soil plus traffic on your lawn add up to new bumps.  You can read more in our April checklist. There are tips to avoiding creating ruts from lawn mower wheels when you mow the lawn in our lawn cutting tips section as well.

FAQ About Best Lawn Care Practices

🌱 When is the Best Time to Water Your Lawn?

The best time to water lawn is in the early morning. The 2nd best time is RIGHT NOW! Watering in the morning is best because this allows the water to soak deep into the soil (without evaporation) and allows the leaves of the grass plant to dry before the water evaporates as it gets warmer in the day.  If you cant water in the morning, evenings are OK, just try to do it earlier!  (better to water any time, than not water at all).

🌱 How Many Times a Week Should You Water Your Lawn?

You need to water at least once a week for at least an hour, this generally provides 1-1.5″ of water to the roots (a tuna cans height) (exceptions: 1. when you seed &  2. if you have an automated system 3. When we are experiencing extreme heat).
New Seeding Watering: Seed must be kept moist until established.  This will be influenced by the amount of sun, wind and heat you are experiencing in your particular area.  It is normal to require 3-4 short waterings per day to maintain a moist seedbed.  Use a light stream of water to lessen disturbance of the seedbed.

🌱 What is the Proper Height to Mow Grass To Keep It Healthy?

In the spring (May-June) and fall (September-November), your lawn should be kept at the 2.5 – 3-inch mark and in the hotter and drier summer periods at least 3 inches.  Contrary to popular belief, if you cut the lawn shorter it doesn’t make it grow at a slower rate, it can actually cause it to lose moisture and scorch.

 

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  • Coping with Covid Update: (updated 06/01/20)

    Hi Everyone, 

    I’m happy to share some good news during these crazy times. LawnSavers is servicing lawns in all areas as lawn care and pest control services that provide for lawn health are officially on the Provincial list of essential services due to the fact we can provide this service safely and with no personal contact!

    We do not expect any delay in our regular timing of applications (except from the brief wintry weather in May).  We put together an easy to read lawn care service timeline that you can use to know when to expect us for each scheduled service in your package. 

    I want to reassure you that in every decision we make around COVID-19, our number one priority remains the health and safety of our employees and customers.  Safety and honesty are our two most important core values.  We will continue to follow strict safety guidelines that ensure “zero touch”.  We will not let our guard down on exercising our safety protocols!

    Our office is open but with less staff in order to maintain safety protocols like social distancing.   Please note our phones are experiencing a high volume of calls and we know how much everyone hates being left on hold, so please leave us a message or email us at greatservice@lawnsavers.com  and we will get back to you in less than 24 hours.
    Please be patient with us, we will get back to you as fast as possible.
    You can also sign up for services on our website by clicking here.

    Thank you all for your understanding and patience during these challenging times. Our team works hard, so if you are met with our exceptional service from our technicians or office team members- please give them a thumbs up to make them smile or let me know through a quick email to feedback@lawnsavers.com

    We thank you for supporting our local, family-owned business of 30 years.
    We
     genuinely appreciate each and every one of you and promise that we will do our part to ensure our mutual safety and be on your lawn as soon as possible.  

    Thank you in advance,
    Kyle Tobin
    Chief Environmental Officer