Leveling Yard for Soccer

Asked September 1, 2020, 9:20 PM EDT

What is the recommended method for leveling a yard? I assume if you want to do it on your own, you'd till the yard with a rotary tiller (adding in amendments as required), then rake it smooth to the desired grade with a metal rake, then compact the soil with a tamp, walking on it, or using a water roller. Does this sound reasonable? Should you wet the soil before/after compacting it? I'd like to get as smooth a yard as possible to play soccer on. Thanks!

St. Mary's County Maryland

4 Responses

Creating playing fields raises some issues that normal lawns do not have (such as heavy foot traffic, soil compaction, seed type, grading for good drainage.) We recommend that you direct your question to Geoff Rinehart at UMD Institute of Applied Agriculture: rinehart@umd.edu


Hello Ellen!

Thank you for getting back to me so quickly. I'll reach out to Mr. Geoff Rinehart, but I should clarify my question. I misspoke when I said I want to "level" my yard. I simply want to make it smooth, keeping the current grade. My yard will not be a soccer field subjected to high traffic. Just occasionally kicking the soccer ball around with friends.

Does this change my situation?


You did not mention the type of grass you want to plant. The best time to plant a cool season grass such as turf type tall fescue for full sun to partial shade is now through mid October. Test your soil for pH, liming, and nutrient deficiencies. https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/soil-testing
Select recommended turfgrass cultivars. https://extension.umd.edu/sites/extension.umd.edu/files/_docs/programs/hgic/Non_hgic_pubs/TT-77_2019...

Here is our page on step by step lawn renovation. To make it smooth you will have to till and amend the soil. Rake the area to even and lightly roll the seedbed before seeding or installing sod with a water filled roller to get it smooth and firm up the soil. Sow seed, fertilize, and cover lightly with straw.
Follow U of MD fertilizer recommendations. Also see care and maintenance after seeding.

You may have to core aerate and overseed with tall fescue every fall, if the turf will be subject to a lot of foot traffic and possible compaction.


Thats very helpful, thank you!

I'm planning to plant Tall Fescue in the fall and then possibly kill it off and plant Zoysia in the spring depending on how well the Tall Fescue comes in.

Thanks again!