In the quest for the perfect yard, lawn rollers are a helpful tool used to prepare a lawn for sod or seed, smooth an existing lawn, or repair lawn damage.
To create that healthy lawn, the roller should be heavy enough to flatten the ground but not be so heavy that it damages healthy grass growth.
Lawn professionals frequently recommend using a 300-pound lawn roller. However, a lawn roller’s weight is dependent on several factors, including the soil and the reasons for using it.
Let’s dig a little deeper to learn more about lawn rollers and dig deeper on the question of “How heavy of a lawn roller do I need?”
Why Use a Lawn Roller
There are four general reasons to use a lawn roller:
- To improve a lawn’s appearance by leveling the ground or creating lawn lines.
- To prevent scalping highspots and creating thatch in low spots when mowing.
- To prevent injuries from tripping or falling when using the yard.
- To help establish sod or grow grass seed.
Standard Features of Lawn Rollers
A person can push a lawn roller. Rollers can also attach behind a lawnmower, utility vehicle, or lawn tractor.
Many versatile rollers made for small- and medium-sized lawns can be used manually or pulled by a vehicle.
- If planning to push the roller, consider the ergonomics of the handle to prevent strain and injury.
- If planning to use a vehicle, consider towing capacity and hitch compatibility.
- Only use a push roller on hilly yards to avoid tipping over on inclines.
The roller’s primary feature, the steel or poly barrel, comes in different widths and diameters. While barrel widths can top 60 inches, most residential users only need 24-36 inches.
The lawn roller’s barrel is hollow and should be filled with sand or water to create the desired weight.
Commercial rollers sometimes use concrete, but manufacturers recommend sand or water in residential rollers. If using water, empty after every use to prevent damage.
When purchasing a lawn roller, consider how you intend to use it. Choose a narrower barrel if you have a small- or medium-sized lawn.
Narrower barrels are also helpful if you have trees and flower beds to work around. Wider barrels are suitable for large open yards without obstacles and tight corners.
How to Use a Lawn Roller
A lawn roller serves several purposes and can be used for a variety of different things. Let’s take a look at some of these.
A lawn roller can help sod become established by ensuring the grass roots touch the soil beneath.
Before laying sod, while the ground is dry, level with the roller. After placing the sod, water and then roll again.
Planting Grass Seed
A lawn roller can help grass seeds germinate by pressing them into the soil. Start with a dry or slightly damp ground.
After tilling the area, spread the grass seed and cover it with a thin layer of dirt and straw. Roll over the seeds to settle them in the ground.
Flatten Lawn Disturbances
Your lawn becomes uneven for many reasons. For instance, wintertime frost heaves move dirt, and moles dig tunnels.
By flattening these areas of disturbance, your lawn is more attractive, and you can mow without damaging your yard. Plus, it makes it easier to plant new grass seeds or sod as needed.
Considerations when flattening lumps and bumps
- Avoid leaving uneven areas by working in an X pattern whenever possible.
- Be mindful of your surroundings and avoid flower gardens, fences, ponds, etc.
- Turn corners with the roller carefully so it doesn’t tear the ground up.
- Check low spots to see if you need to add more soil or re-roll them.
What is the Correct Weight for Your Lawn?
Ideally, the lawn roller will be heavy enough to flatten the top one to two inches of grass and soil on your lawn.
The goal is to have it flatten the ground without crushing seedlings or grass roots. Fortunately, there is an easy method to make sure you are using the correct weight.
Adjusting the Heaviness of Your Lawn Roller
- If using a lawnmower or tractor, attach the roller before adding weight to it.
- Place the roller on flat ground near a patch of bare soil.
- Add water or sand to the roller until it is about one-fourth full.
- Check if the roller is heavy enough by rolling it over the bare earth.
- Wearing soft-soled shoes, step onto the rolled ground.
- If your foot sinks more than a quarter-inch, the roller is too light.
- Add more water and then test it again until your foot no longer sinks into the ground.
What to Avoid
For your grass to grow well, the soil must hold the correct amounts of air and water.
If you use a lawn roller that is too heavy or too often utilized, the ground can compact to the point that it is difficult for grass roots to grow. Aerating after rolling will loosen the soil without losing the smoothness.
If your roller is too light, it won’t smooth your lawn. Instead, it will contribute to thatch build-up by pushing the grass stems and blades into any existing thatch.
Dethatching with a power rake or biological dethatcher product can remove thatch.
If your lawn has clay soil, using a lawn roller is discouraged. Clay compacts more than other soils and does not need rolling.
Lawn Roller Maintenance
You can use the following tips to maintain your roller in the best possible condition.
- The barrel should always be as smooth as possible. Check the barrel for dents or damage.
- Do not exceed the manufacturer’s stated weight capacity. Overfilling your roller can cause damage to your lawn.
- Check that the plug is secure so that you don’t lose water or sand as you roll.
The roller seems to work better on wet soil. Why can’t I use it when my yard is wet?
Using a roller on wet ground will cause too much compression, limit aeration, and damage your yard. Only use your roller when the soil is dry or slightly damp.
What time of year should I use my roller?
The ideal time to use a lawn roller is in the spring, just as the grass starts to grow. Using a roller in the summer can cause stress to your grass that could endanger your lawn.
Is it worthwhile to buy a lawn roller, or should I rent it?
For a healthy lawn, only use a lawn roller once or twice a year. Many people will find renting more cost-effective.