Lawn Sinks When Walking On It: 11 Common Reasons With Easy Fixes

Walking on your lush, green lawn only to experience an uneasy sinking sensation can be quite bewildering. This sudden give underfoot most often indicates an underlying problem that pervades the unseen aspects of your greenery.

If you lawn sinks when walking on it, then you must find out the underlaying reasons to find the cure.

Or you can read this article, as it delves into the mysterious world beneath your lawn, exploring the various reasons that might cause your lawn to sink when walked upon–from soil erosion to pest invasions.

Lawn sinks when walking on it
lawn sinks when walking on it

Join us as we unearth the hidden aspects of lawn care and provide practical solutions to restore both the aesthetic appeal and the structural integrity of your outdoor haven.

lawn sinks when walking on it: 11 Top Reasons

The innocuous sinking sensation you experience while walking across your lawn might indicate subtle underlying problems waiting to surface. Here are some potential reasons their grassy retreat could be behaving more like a trampoline:

1. Inadequate Soil Compaction

If the soil of your lawn was not properly compacted when the lawn was installed, it can cause sinking. Over time, areas of loosely packed soil might settle, leading to uneven areas or sinkholes. Factors such as heavy foot traffic can exacerbate this process, leading to more noticeable sinking.

2. Soil Erosion

The process of soil erosion can also cause your lawn to sink. This usually happens when running water sweeps away the upper layers of soil over time. Sudden downpours or even standard watering can contribute to soil erosion, especially if the lawn’s gradient slopes towards your house.

Soil Erosion
Soil Erosion

3. Pest Invasion

Various types of pests, like moles or burrowing insects, may also be behind your lawn’s sinking issue. They can create tunnels or channels which undermine the surface integrity of your garden, causing it to collapse when walked on.

4. Underground Pipe Leaks

Underground pipe leaks or plumbing issues can encourage sinkage as excess water softens the soil and may wash it away. A slow trickle of water can compromise the soil’s support, causing it to gradually sink.

5. Decomposing Organic Material

If your lawn is old and had big trees that were removed, there may be decaying stumps and roots under the surface. As these roots decompose, voids are created leading to a sinking lawn.

6. Natural Soil Sinkage

Over time, soil naturally tends to settle. This is particularly common in new properties where the soil is regularly disturbed.

7. Poor Drainage

Poor drainage sometimes results from compacted soil, clay-like soil, or even a flat yard without a proper gradient to allow water run-off. This can cause water to pool in certain areas, which, over time, may lead to soil softening and sinking.

8. Thatch Build-up

Thatch is a layer of organic material, including dead grass, stems, and roots that accumulate at the base of the grass. Excessive thatch build-up can cause problems with water infiltration and soil compaction, which in turn may lead to sinking lawns.

9. Overwatering and Over-fertilizing

Overwatering contributes to soil compaction and washes away essential nutrients. Likewise, over-fertilizing can also be detrimental as it may introduce excess chemicals to the soil, altering its pH and potentially damaging the lawn’s root system, causing uneven terrain and sinking.

Overwatering and Over-fertilizing
Overwatering and Over-fertilizing

10. Previous Construction

If there has been construction work, such as excavations, underground utility installations, or landscaping, the disturbed soil may sink due to improper backfilling or compaction.

11. Buried Debris

Debris buried under the soil, such as rocks, broken bricks, or construction waste, can cause uneven ground settlement, resulting in your lawn sinking in certain areas.

It’s crucial that you identify the exact cause of the sinking issue before taking any corrective measures. Proper diagnosis will help to resolve the problem efficiently and effectively while preventing further damage.

How to stop lawn sinks when walking on it?

After understanding the various reasons that may cause your lawn to sink, it’s time to explore some effective solutions. Addressing the cause directly helps to prevent further damage and restore your lawn.

  1. Proper Soil Compaction- If the cause is due to improper soil compaction, you can fix this by adding a mixture of sand and topsoil to the problem areas. This process, known as topdressing, will gradually level your lawn. Compact the excess soil cautiously, as overcompaction can restrict root growth.
  2. Soil Erosion Solutions- To combat soil erosion, you may need to reshape your lawn to control the flow of water. Building a berm (a small, rounded hill) can help redirect the water flow, while installing a drainage system, such as a French drain, can help remove excess water.
  3. Pest Control- For issues related to pests, you will need appropriate pest control strategies. This might include natural remedies, professional exterminator services, or pest-repelling plants.
  4. Repair Pipe Leaks- In the case of underground pipe leaks, contacting a professional plumber is the best way to go. They can detect any leaks and repair them properly, saving you from many potential headaches down the line.
  5. Removing Organic Material- If the problem lies with decomposing organic materials, you may need to excavate the decomposed material and backfill it with compacted soil. This should restore the lawn’s structural integrity.
  6. Improving Drainage- If poor drainage is to blame, you could try to alleviate the issue by aerating the lawn, which helps the water penetrate deeper. For serious drainage issues, consider installing a suitable drainage system.
  7. Dealing with Thatch Build-up- Aeration can also work wonders for thatch build-up, as it helps to break up the thatch and allow water through. Thatch layers half an inch or thicker should be removed at least once a year, in the fall or early spring.
  8. Correct Watering and Fertilizing Techniques- To avoid problems caused by overwatering and over-fertilizing, adopt proper lawn care techniques. This includes watering deeply but infrequently and using a slow-release fertilizer.
  9. Removing Buried Debris- If buried debris is the issue, you may need to excavate the debris and fill the area with landscaping soil.

Getting your lawn back on an even keel can be a challenging task. However, knowing the potential problems and their solutions can make the job more manageable and ensure you maintain a beautiful, healthy lawn.

Who to call about sinking yard? 

When your lawn sinks, the solution may not always be a DIY task. Sometimes you will need to involve professionals. Here’s who to call depending on the nature of the problem:

Who to call about sinking yard

1. Landscape Contractors

If the sinking is due to soil compaction, erosion, poor drainage, organic material, buried debris, or thatch buildup, reaching out to a professional landscaper will be your best bet. They can offer solutions such as installing drains, reshaping the lawn, removing debris, or applying topdressing, all of which are proven methods to help combat sinking.

2. Pest Control Services

If the cause of your sinking lawn is a pest infestation, contact a reputable pest control service. These professionals can help you in identifying and eliminating the pests that are wreaking havoc underneath your lawn.

3. Plumbing Services

In cases where the sinking is caused by underground pipe leaks, a professional plumber can be of great help. They have the tools and skill to trace the source of the leak accurately and fix it promptly to prevent further damage to your lawn.

4. Land Grading Contractors

Land grading contractors are skilled in modifying the landscape to correct drainage issues and prevent erosion. They can create appropriate slopes and drains to prevent water accumulation and thus stop your lawn from sinking further.

5. Local Extension Services

Your local Cooperative Extension office can also be a handy resource. Extension services often have soil scientists, horticulturists, and other experts who can provide advice tailored to your local climate and soil types.

When professional help is needed, be sure to reach out to experienced, licensed, and insured experts. This will not only ensure the work’s quality but also protect you in case of unexpected incidents during the process.

What is the Best Soil for Leveling a Lawn?

Providing a level playing field for your grass often requires a thoughtful combination of materials. The best soil for leveling a lawn is typically a mix of sand and topsoil. Sometimes, compost is also incorporated to enrich the mix with organic matter.

What is the Best Soil for Leveling a Lawn
Best Soil for Leveling a Lawn

An ideal soil mix for lawn leveling commonly includes:

  • 70% Sand: Sand improves drainage and flexibility, preventing the mix from becoming too compact and allowing grass to root more easily. However, you should avoid using fine sands because they can compact and create hard, dense patches over time. Instead, use coarse sand.
  • 30% Topsoil: Topsoil makes up the rest of the mix, as it contains the necessary nutrients for grass growth. Using enriched, quality topsoil ensures that the grass roots have all the necessary nutrients once they reach into the added soil.
  • Optional Compost Addition: If your topsoil is lacking in nutrients or your existing soil is particularly poor, you might opt to add compost to your leveling mix. This will provide an added boost of nutrients.

Always remember to match the pH level and makeup of the added soil as closely as possible to your existing soil. This way, your grass can adapt much more easily.

Is Sand or Topsoil Better for Leveling?

Choosing between sand and topsoil for lawn leveling depends on your specific situation. Both materials have their advantages and disadvantages.

  • Sand is advantageous primarily due to its drainage properties, making it a good choice for lawns suffering from poor drainage. It also won’t clump or harden over time. However, sand lacks the necessary nutrients for grass growth, which is quite necessary when leveling deeper depressions.
  • Topsoil, on the other hand, provides essential nutrients that will boost grass growth, making it an excellent choice for deeper ruts or holes. It can support the rapid development of new grass roots, but it may become compacted over time and impede water drainage.

As such, a mix of both sand and topsoil tends to be the best compromise for most situations, providing the benefits of both materials. The sand aids with aeration and improves drainage, while the topsoil introduces much-needed nutrients for grass growth.

Before taking any steps, it’s recommended to check the type and pH of your existing soil so that any added material will harmonize with it, facilitating better growth and results.


A sinking lawn can be caused by a variety of factors, ranging from soil compaction and erosion, to pest invasions and pipe leaks. Regardless of the cause, it’s crucial to detect and address the issue promptly to prevent additional damage.

In some cases, a DIY approach involving practices like topdressing, aeration, or correct watering may suffice.

In other cases, invoking professional help from landscapers, pest control services, or plumbers is the most effective path forward. Either way, maintaining a healthy, level lawn is well within reach if you stay proactive and informed.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top