Why Lawn Sinks When Walking On It (Reasons and Solutions)

Have you noticed that your lawn tends to sink when you walk on it? This is a frustrating experience considering the time and effort you’ve spent caring for your yard. A sinking lawn can destroy the beauty of plants and nearby structures. Your lawn sinks when walking on it because of drainage issues, problems with your soil, excess thatch buildup, overwatering, and decaying matter. Your yard will always sink if the ground is soft, mushy, and wet.

So, how do you fix these issues? This article looks into various reasons for lawn sinking and the solutions.

Why Is My Yard Sinking When I Walk On It?

Your yard is sinking when you walk on it due to the following reasons.

  • Poor drainage in the lawn
  • Decaying materials buried in the lawn
  • Excess buildup of thatch
  • Overwatering

There are several ways to tell if your lawn is sinking. Common signs for a lawn sinking include the following:

  • It feels soft and mushy when you step on it.
  • It appears sunken in some areas.
  • Some trees tilt slightly.
  • Some runoff water collects on various spots
  • The ground has a few cracks.

Below are the reasons explaining why this might be happening.

Drainage Issues

Check the drainage system if your lawn seems to sink after a heavy downpour. You might be dealing with a poor or non-existent runoff. As a result, rainwater collects in your yard and gets absorbed into the ground. This softens the soil, and walking on it makes it more susceptible to sinking.

Water collecting on the surface compacts the soil and prevents oxygen from penetrating deep into the roots. Eventually, the grass begins to die and causes the soil to settle.  

Buried Construction Items Are Decaying

During construction, some contractors may bury construction debris and tree stumps under the surface of your yard. Others might use low-building materials and bury them, intending to cut corners.

Over time, construction debris and low-quality materials can begin to break down and cause the soil to settle. Regular foot traffic in this yard compacts the ground and makes it appear to sink.

Thatch Problem

If your lawn is soft and mushy, you might be dealing with an excess buildup of thatch. You might notice a thick layer of leaves, roots and organic plant materials settling between your grass and the soil surface. When you step on the thatch layer, it feels soft and can rebound like a sponge. Thatch is probably the reason why your lawn sinks when walking on it.

This problem is common with grass types that produce thick stolon. Despite making your lawn spongy, thatch impedes the grass’s ability to access air and water. Similarly, new grass will find it difficult to take root.


How often you water your lawn determines if it will sink when walking on it. Overwatering can cause the water to rest on certain spots, making it softer than in other areas. These spots might feel like they’re sinking if you walk on them.

Overwatering can also compact the soil and lead to the front yard and backyard sinking. Compacted soil interferes with the penetration of oxygen and fertilizers into the roots. As a result, your grass begins to appear unhealthy and eventually dies.

How To Fix Lawn Sinking

Nobody likes to see their lawns looking unpleasant due to sinking. If your lawn has begun sinking, you can use the following tips to fix the problem.

Ensure Your Lawn Is Well Drained

A well-drained lawn prevents water from pooling and creating waterlogged soil. Check your old drainage system to discover why it prevents water from flowing away. If the drain canal walls don’t have rocks behind them, install them to ensure water doesn’t settle on the surface.

On the other hand, if you’ve not installed drainage systems, be sure to install them. You might install drainage tiles and plastic tubes or regrade the soil. The goal is to prevent water from setting in your lawn and causing sinking.

Add Topsoil

Adding topsoil over the surface is a great way to improve drainage in your yard. You can combine sand, stones, and compost. These components are suitable for drainage as they prevent water from pooling. The good news is your grass will eventually grow through the new topsoil and become lush and healthy.

Remember, the new lawn is soft and spongy, so avoid walking on the new topsoil because this could cause further sinking.

Adding topsoil helps with fixing soil compaction in your lawn. You’ll want to add the topsoil on the compacted areas and level it with a rake. The loose layer of soil will encourage the penetration of oxygen, water, and fertilizers into the roots.

Water Deeply and Evenly

Overwatering isn’t suitable for the soil and your plants. While your lawn requires water to prevent it from becoming too dry and compacted, it’s advisable to water it deeply and evenly.

You first want to keep a detailed watering schedule depending on the season. Unlike overwatering, deep watering prevents soil compaction while allowing roots to access air, water, and fertilizers.

Water the lawn evenly to ensure every section gets equal water. With deep and even watering, roots will grow deeper and reduce the chances of your lawn sinking.

Aerate and Dethatch Your Lawn

If your lawn sinks when walking on it, you might fix this problem by aerating and dethatching it. Compacted soil and thick thatch can prevent water, air, and nutrients from penetrating the soil.

To aerate your lawn, use an aerator to make small holes in the soil. This will encourage a deep root system. If you have a small lawn, we recommend this Yard Butler Aerator from Amazon.

If you are dealing with thatching issues, use a dethatching rake to remove the excess debris. Before dethatching, you should mow the lawn for better results.

Overseed Your Lawn

Do you have bare patches in your lawn that make it appear unsightly? Bare patches can cause the soil to become excessively dry and begin to compact. If not fixed, it might result in the sinking. You can plant new grass seeds in patchy areas to prevent such an occurrence.

Overseeding allows the lawn to look thicker, healthier, and more resilient. This helps prevent issues of compacted soil that can cause sinking.

Final Thoughts

Understanding why your lawn sinks when walking on it can help you know how to fix the issue. Lawns can sink due to poor drainage, decaying building materials, thatch problems, or overwatering. Thankfully, you can use the above tips to fix lawn sinking. Alternatively, call lawn care professionals near you to help fix the problem.