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Janet Macunovich

Rolling an uneven lawn

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My son just purchased a home. The front lawn is uneven and he wishes to roll it. When is it safe?

- H. W. -


The answer is short but varies by location: When the soil has drained, is the short answer to when can you roll a lawn. Some of the properties we work would be ready now, if we were into rolling, others are still way too wet.


To roll wet soil is to make it worse. To know if it's drained right there where you are, dig up a bit of sod -- just flap it out of the way -- and take a spade-full or trowel-full of what's underneath. Close a ball of that in your fist, and then open your hand. If the clod crumbles when gently poked, that soil's drained and ready for working. If it stays in a fist-shaped clod, it's still got too much water in it.


A thought: Rolling is fine on healthy turk that's uneven because of mole activity, or a huge number of earthworms mounds (not kidding; it happens). But if the  unevenness is from vehicle traffic -- ruts -- or just poor grading before the lawn was originally seeded or sodded, then It may be less work to do something that golf courses do on uneven turf. Add clean sand (buy coarse builder's sand; or the sand by the bag in home building stores where concrete is sold) and rake it to level. The sand is easy to level, the grass will grow through even an inch of sand, and the sand does not contain any weed seeds.


Although we agree that nothing makes a home look better, quicker, than a great lawn, it can be a long process to renovate a lawn that's not been well cared for, or abused. It may be that  aerating, fertilizing and overseeding, then cutting the lawn higher may do more, more quickly, than rolling.The lawn will be darker green and its longer blades will even out the moderate dips.


We'll hope there are other suggestions out there. We spend so little actual time on lawns, ourselves. We're in the midst of three renovations right now, all of them for lawns so large that they've eaten up all our time...

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