I have a small grassy area in my back yard surrounded by one of those "curvy concrete" borders. The ground is wavy and needs to be lefeled but the ground is solid as a rock. I have no idea how the grass even grows. I'd rather not have to rent some big machine for such a small area. Am I doomed to a round shovel, several hours and blisters? Even after I loosen after all the dirt, how to I make it level and not settle into the pattern that ended up there in the first place?
Consider renting a rear tine roto-tiller. They are very easy to use and very effective in breaking up hardened/packed soils. I would advise tilling to a depth of 3 to 4 inches. Buy a landscape rake. This is an aluminum rake that is about 3 foot wide with strong rigid tines for sifting out stones etc, and a scraper edge on the top side that is used to level and move soil. After you have loosened up your soil, you can add amendments, starter fertilizer etc if wanted, level out the area with your landscape rake, reseed, and roll it flat (optional) if you wish. Midwest Rake 10030 Aluminum 30 Inch Landscape Rake apx $40