Gardens are supposed to be flat or at least have a relatively even landscape. This doesn’t mean that sloping gardens can’t be aesthetically pleasing. They can. However, few people have mastered the art of optimising natural slopes for gardening. Plus, it is a very expensive feat.
So, a sloping garden is either an inconvenience or a hazard to the average person. The terrain is harder to maintain and beautify, new features are a hassle to install, soil erosion is an issue, and it can be almost impossible to socialise without fear of injuries (especially with kids). Even plants aren’t fans of sloped gardens. The list of problems goes on and on.
Garden levelling, or as some call it, “re-sloping,” changes all of that. So, if your garden (or future garden) has an uneven/bumpy or sloped landscape and the associated issues, this is a great way to give it a new lease on life.
However, before answering your question, I must warn you that although levelling is theoretically simple, it can actually be complex and complicated in execution. Take a hilly/sloped garden with steep slopes as an example.
The sheer amount of working hours, skill and landscaping features required to level that garden can be extensive. Those extra features include a retaining wall and terracing. They can increase costs by up to £200 per square metre. On the other hand, a bumpy garden with just some unevenness will be much easier and cheaper to level.
As a result of these variations in the degree gradient and unevenness, the cost of levelling a garden could range from as low as £10 to as high as £300 per square metre. At the end of the day, garden levelling can set you back by anything from £500 to £7,000, depending on the condition and size of the said garden.
If that seems like a broad answer, don’t worry because you will have a better answer before the end of this article. We will even explore the benefits, cost factors, the garden levelling process, hiring tips, how to save money and more. So keep reading.
How Much Does it Cost to Level a Garden?
|Gradient level||Levelling cost per square metre (£)||Note|
|Bumpy garden||10-30||No additional features needed|
|Gentle gradient (less than 15%)||30-50||Although it’s not necessary, you can add retaining wall(s) and terracing for £40 to £80 or £35 to £70 respectively.|
|Medium gradient (15% to 25%)||100-125||The retaining wall is already included, but you can add terracing for £50 to £100.|
|Steep gradient (above 25%)||120-130||This only covers levelling and the retaining wall. However, terracing is important for this type of gradient. It will cost between £100 and £200 per square metre.|
These estimates should cover supply, equipment and labour costs. The supplies are limited to soil, dirt, a string, stakes, cement, building sand etc. The basic equipment includes a soil compactor, diggers and excavator etc.
Labour is usually a regular gardener or landscaper and landscape/garden designer. The regular gardener will charge around £100 to £200 per day, while a landscaper will charge £180 to £200 per day.
Professional landscapers are more appropriate for more complicated projects like sloped gardens with medium or higher gradients. They can also serve as a landscape designer. So you won’t have to hire another person for the role.
What are the Factors Affecting the Cost of Levelling a Garden?
This is a cost guide, but I must warn you to treat the price projections as estimates. There are too many variables involved. Therefore, you won’t know exactly how much it will cost to level a garden until the gardener completes his survey and provides a quote.
Until then, the estimates and an understanding of the cost factors should give you an idea of what to expect. So, no one takes advantage of you.
With all other variables being equal, large gardens will cost more to level. They will require more supplies and working hours. As a result, costs will be higher.
Size doesn’t just affect the cost of garden levelling alone. It affects the cost of every landscaping project. So figure out the size of your garden and use the estimates in table one to see how this applies to your garden levelling project.
The gradient of the garden
In theory, here is how to level a garden. You either raise the low points or lower the high points or do both to create an even landscape. Gardeners usually choose the first option (raising the lower areas) because it is easier.
The gradient is the degree of the inclination/slope or the height differences between the highs and lows. It is probably the most important of the several factors affecting the cost of any garden project. It affects the fill dirt requirements and the need for extra features like retaining walls and terraces.
On the low side of gradient types, we have bumpy gardens. Levelling a garden of this sort is cheaper because you only need to even out those bumps and unevenness. As the gradient becomes steeper, the cost of levelling gardens increases. This is because the labour and fillings needed to level the garden increases.
And also because of the features needed to ensure the structural integrity of the newly-levelled garden. These features include a retaining wall, which keeps soil filling in place, thus preventing the filled garden from collapsing. Examples include brick, concrete blocks, and stone retaining walls.
The second major feature is a terrace, which breaks the space into tiers, making the entire garden more navigatable and usable. The terrace(s) can be made from brick, concrete, stones or timber. You can even use reclaimed railway sleepers.
These extra structural features are necessary if the gradient of a garden is up to 15% and higher. And they don’t come cheap.
By these, I mean both the quantity and quality of soil filling. Regarding quantity, we can assume that a less sloped or small garden will need less filling. The issue of quality of slightly more complicated.
To level a garden, you will deal with two types of filling. The first, dirt, will act as ordinary filling, while the second, topsoil, will provide a nutritional base for the new lawn and flowers to flourish.
Topsoil costs more. Some people may also choose not to use it. Finally, you can use soil from another part of your garden (like when digging a foundation for the retaining wall) or property for filling. This will save cost.
Ease and accessibility
By this, I mean how easy it is to work in the garden. For example, Are there existing plants, trees and structures that need to be dealt with first? Is there anything that can impair access, especially when it comes to heavy machinery?
Finally, levelling costs can also vary depending on the type and condition of the soil in that garden. Compact, clay, hard or soggy soil is harder to work while loam, slightly wet or loose soil is easier to work with.
Finally, location also affects how much it will cost to level your garden. All landscaping and gardening projects often cost more in big cities and south-east regions of the UK. This is mainly due to the higher standard of living.
What are the Additional Costs of Levelling a Garden?
|Landscaping task||Cost (£)|
|Paving or decking||30-120 per square metre|
|Garden edging||20-40 per square metre|
|Garden fence||40-100 per square metre|
Levelling is just one of several garden landscaping projects that can improve the aesthetics and effectiveness of your garden. So, in this section, we will look at these other options.
Note: They are not essential to a garden levelling project, except for waste disposal and maybe, stairs. And they will raise your budget significantly, but they are worth it.
A full background renovation will cost around £3,000 to £5,00o. That should cover all garden landscaping costs required to take your garden to the next level.
- Waste disposal: This involves the removal of all sorts of waste soil and plant after a landscaping project. Sometimes, the gardener may provide this service for an additional fee. Other times, you may have to handle it yourself, either by skip hire or other means.
- New lawn: This could be real or artificial grass. Real grass is cheaper at around £5 to £7 per square metre. Meanwhile, artificial grass costs about £15 to £30 per square metre but is easier to maintain.
- Paving or decking: Paving can be made from cement, natural stone, clay, composite resin, porcelain etc. In contrast, timber decking can be made from hardwood or softwood. Either of these provides living space for relaxation and social events.
- Garden edging: It borders and frames your garden. Edging improves aesthetics and overall gardening needs. It can be made from brick, cement, rail, clay etc.
- Garden fence: It secures and improves privacy while also adding aesthetic value. The cost of fencing a garden depends on the garden size and fencing material.
- Drainage system: A proper drainage system will be good for the new soil, lawn, retaining wall, plants and nearby properties. So consider it if your location is prone to heavy rainfall and erosion issues. Options include a soakaway, channel, underground or french drains.
- Irrigation system: Options include drip irrigation, sprinkler systems or a simple hose and tap.
- Stairs: These are crucial when levelling a garden with a steep gradient. In such cases, stairs are safer than pathways.
- Raised beds/planters: They are great for terraced gardens or if the local soil is not good enough for plant growth.
- Water feature: Examples are ponds and pools. The former goes for around £400 to £1,000 while the latter costs around £1,000 to £2,700.
How to Level a Garden
We have already established that the most common approach to garden levelling is by raising the lower parts to the level of the higher ones. However, whatever approach you or your gardener chooses, levelling is easier for bumpy gardens. All you have to do is even out the landscape.
The same can’t be said for a sloping garden because you will also have to install a retaining wall and terraces. Either way, the process of levelling any garden will involve the following steps.
Landscaping and slope inclination survey
This involves measuring the size and gradient to determine the fill dirt requirements and other aspects of the process. To measure gradient, some gardeners use a laser measuring tool. Most use stakes and strings.
To do this, they will drive a stake into the highest point and another to the lowest point of the garden, then run a string between them. Both stakes need to be levelled to the ground. So, they will use a spirit level to measure this and adjust accordingly. Then the garden will be filled/levelled to meet that run (of string).
Prepare the space
In this stage, they will remove existing trees, plants and structures that can get in the way of the job. They will also check the area for pipework and underground cables, taking appropriate measures when found.
Build a retaining wall (if needed)
Building the retaining wall at this stage provides extra sand for filling and contains the fill dirt, preventing it from falling apart.
Fill the garden
Now it is time to level the garden. Add fill, compact and level, then add top soil. The garden doesn’t have to be perfectly level and even, but it’s good to be as close as possible.
Apart from terraces, this is also the time to execute any other landscaping project.
Start planting and gardening
At this stage, you can add some finishing touches, more top soil and start bringing in your lawn and other plants.
How to Find a Qualified Gardener for Garden Levelling and other Landscaping Jobs
Depending on the scope of the job, a regular gardener may not be qualified. You may need a landscape gardener. One indication is if the garden has a steep or medium gradient. Or if you need other landscaping and garden design tasks.
The best way to find a good candidate is to ask a trusted person(s) like a family member, colleague, neighbour or friend for recommendations. If you can’t find anyone through this means, you can check the internet or adverts and listings in your local area.
The right candidate should have the following-
- Evidence of relevant successful jobs
- Good references and customer reviews
- 3 to 5 years of experience
- Public liability insurance
After finding like 3 to 5 ideal candidates, you can then compare prices and ask for written quotes.
- Several factors affect how much it will cost to level garden(s).
- The levelling process is much more complicated than most people assume.
- This is just a cost guide. So, expect moderate deviations from our price estimates.
- Levelling is an opportunity to execute other landscaping projects to improve your garden. Cost/budget will be affected, though.
Can I level a garden myself?
Yes, but you have to realise that it is a labour-intensive task. It may even require certain experience, specialist skills and equipment. So, it is better to assign those more complex projects to professionals.
How to does it take to level a garden?
Depending on garden size and gradient, it can take 1 to 2 days.
How can I reduce levelling and garden landscaping cost(s)?
You can choose to do all or some of the tasks yourself. The easiest tasks to DIY are planting, garden clearance and waste disposal. You can also choose to level only some parts of the garden, leaving others as they are.
When is the best time of the year to level a garden?
Spring (March to May) and Autumn (September to November) are the best time for garden levelling. The soil is wetter, looser and easier to work during these seasons. You can also create this effect anytime by watering the grounds a day or two before D-day.
Do I need planning permission to level a garden?
You don’t as long as your project doesn’t affect public properties. However, it is better to confirm this with your local council.
What do I have to gain by levelling my garden?
The levelled garden will be easier and safer to maintain and navigate. It will have more usable space for social activities and the installation of new features. In general, human activity and new plants will flourish. Even the monetary value of the garden and, by extension, the entire property will improve.