How to Use A Sod Cutter To Level Ground | A Step By Step Guide


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Leveling the ground is a mandatory step before building a house. In this case, this operation is usually performed by a professional digger. On the other hand, the garden centers may not necessarily be upgraded at this time. Therefore, you may need to level the ground yourself to plant a nice lawn, install a playground, or even an above ground pool installation. With our tips, you can find out how to use a sod cutter to level ground effectively.

Types of a Sod Cutter

There are many types of sod cutter. Depending on the characteristics and dimensions of the terrain, we must choose one model or another. It is also important to know how you will use the machine in varying circumstances. This includes:

Square edge sod cutter: This model looks like a shovel with a short handle and a rounded edge. You can use it to remove small pieces of turf or trim the garden. When using it, place it in the soil and push it in with your feet. The entry point should be as close as possible to where the grass ends on the sidewalk. Use a shovel like a cutter to remove all the turf and dispose of it.

The Kick Cutter: It has two handles fixed together with a crossbar. There are cutting blades and roller at the end and the blade can be adjusted according to the project to be carried out. To move the kick sod cutter, you have to kick the crossbar. This is also best for cutting and rolling long sod. 

Motorized cutter: For larger areas, this type of sod cutter works best. It is powerful, so you first need to check if you can operate the machine.

How to Use A Sod Cutter To Level Ground

How to Use a Sod Cutter to Level Ground: Tools Needed

  • Sod cutter
  • Gardener’s cord
  • Fork
  • Tiller
  • Spirit level
  • Pickaxe
  • Wooden stakes
  • Rake
  • Lawn roller
  • Stoner 
  • Eye protection goggles
  • Uprooter

How to Use a Sod Cutter to Level Ground: The steps needed.

One machine that is particularly suitable for ground leveling is the sod cutter. This tool is also ideal for straightening the soil and laying out the lawn again. It is usually gasoline-powered and digs up the earth under the future lawn and loosens it up. So the earth can be distributed excellently, and unevenness can be removed. Furthermore, the sod cutter is a machine and a special tool that facilitates the entire work process. This saves a lot of time and effort when working on leveling the ground as well. To use it, do make use of the following steps:

Eliminate the causes of unevenness

We always recommend observing the causes. It also makes sense to think about where the ground’s bumps come from to prevent further tripping hazards. Since straightening the ground with a machine is complex and often associated with costs and time, the causes should first be eliminated. Potential causes of ground unevenness can be:

  • Mole damage
  • Minor bumps from earthworms
  • Impaired water drainage
  • Depression by weight
  • Wild boar damage
  • Tree roots

In the case of animal polluters, the land must be made inaccessible to them. Possible weak points in the fence should be repaired first. A solar mole repeller could reduce the risk of mole damage too. Earthworms can cause minor bumps. However, since these are necessary for plants’ healthy growth, it is completely sufficient to smooth the piles quickly and easily with a lawn roller.

Determine how much lawn straightening is necessary

First, you need to do an inventory on the height difference in your land at the most uneven point. To find out, you can use a long (about 2 meters or longer) Spirit level. To get an idea of the area to be leveled, a wooden stick can be stuck into the ground at the lawn’s lowest point. Note that the wooden stick must be at least as high as the height difference you are calculating.

Then take a piece of string and go to the point where the floor is currently highest. Here the string is fixed in the ground (or held by a second person on the ground) and connected to the recently placed wooden stick.

With the spirit level’s help, the thread must now be aligned horizontally so that it lies parallel to a level floor. If you want to level your land by giving it a slight slope, do not use the spirit level but notch marks on the stakes. These must then be positioned at the same depth.

Loosen the earth

Leveling is done by moving the earth from a high point to a low point. Depending on the size of the plot to be leveled, several tools may be required:

  • For a small area: you can loosen the soil with a fork and a pickaxe.
  • For a larger surface: the use of a tiller can be interesting because it allows you to lift the earth 20 to 60 cm deep with a minimum effort.
  • A very large area: the use of a mini-excavator may become essential.

If you add soil from outside, you don’t have to loosen your current soil.

sod cutter manual

Remove stones and roots

Once the soil is loosened, it becomes easier to remove stones and roots that can interfere with leveling. This tedious job is done by hand, but a stoner and uprooter can help you with this task. If you plan to plant grass or other vegetation, leave the smallest stones buried in the ground. Indeed, they make it possible to keep a ventilated and less compact soil.

excavating with a sod cutter

Level the ground

You have arrived at the time of leveling the ground. Use a sod cutter, level the soil so that it takes a flat shape. The cutter’s passage can bring out faults that you can then correct immediately, as long as the soil can still be worked.

Furthermore, it’s best to make use of the following steps to use the sod cutter:

  • Put it on, and then move its lever to the neutral position.
  • Engage the lever of the blade and lift the sod cutter’s handlebar with your other hand.
  • Set the depth, and then lock it using the depth knob. 
  • Work on the ground till it is done to your satisfaction.
how to use a manual sod cutter

Let the ground fall into place

Before enjoying your level land, allow the soil to settle for at least 48 hours:

  • Spray water at least three to four times to help the soil settle.
  • Do not walk on the ground and put nothing there at the risk of sinking and breaking the level.
  • After 48 hours, make a new pass of the roller to be leveled. If you’ve added topsoil or any amendment, give your soil a little extra time to settle down.

Tips on How to Use a Sod Cutter to Level Ground Correctly

  • The first thing we must do, and although it seems obvious it is not always done, is to carefully read the sod cutter manual to know your machine’s operation and possibilities. You must know what types of materials you can cut safely and which ones can jam the sod cutter and create a hazard.
  • Before each use, ensure there are no loose parts in the machine. Also, do not forget to remove any forgotten objects that could block the sod cutter, such as balls or toys from the lawn.
  • Do not run the sod cutter indoors, but always in open spaces where carbon dioxide cannot accumulate.
  • While it is in operation, it is very important to have any part of our body and your clothing as far away as possible from the machine. 
  • Never use the sod cutter on barefoot. Wearing the right clothing and footwear, including protective glasses, will reduce the chances of an accident.
  • In case of clogging with a stone, disconnect it before inspecting it.
  • Make sure there are no children near the machine while it is running.
  • If the sod cutter runs on gasoline, fill it outdoors and away from potential sources of ignition.
  • Once the work is finished, collect, store and protects the tools used. One possible reason you should change your sod cutter is if it gets wet in the rain.

How to Use a Sod Cutter to Level Ground: FAQ Section

Does a sod cutter level ground?

As earlier highlighted, a sod cutter can be used to level the ground.

Should I water before using a sod cutter?

It’s best to water before using a sod cutter so it can give the blades some traction. 

How difficult is it to use a sod cutter?

A sod cutter isn’t difficult to use. For more ease, do follow the steps highlighted above. With regards to the sod cutter, a great product worth trying is the Classen sod cutter. This is quite true because it yields cleaner, smoother results. The 1-3/8″ cutting stroke is usually up to 50% longer than competitive models. Now, Classen sod cutters are also easier and more comfortable to operate than ever – with up to 42% less vibration!


In conclusion, an ideal ground should be a level surface that does not slope on either side. A lush green land and one free from weeds or the mole is also desirable. At least that’s the theory – in practice, most floors are rather uneven. And that’s not exactly the preferred type of lawn that most hobby gardeners want.

With a few exceptions, nobody wants their beautiful land to be like a cow meadow with many holes, hills, and excavations of the mole. To achieve the needed result, you have to straighten the land with the help of the sod cutter. This can be perfectly done through the article highlighted above.

Read More: How To Separate Front Yard From Neighbors

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