Robert Morello has an extensive travel, marketing and business background. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Columbia University in 2002 and has worked in travel as a guide, corporate senior marketing and product manager and travel consultant/expert. Morello is a professional writer and adjunct professor of travel and tourism.

Even with power equipment, digging up a lawn is hard work. You risk exposing weed seeds that were deep in the soil, giving them an opportunity to germinate. There is also a chance that you'll remove too much valuable topsoil. If you're using a tiller, sod cutter or any other gas-powered equipment, you'll need to factor fuel and possibly a rental fee into the total cost of the project.

Many homeowners put time, effort and money into maintaining their lawns. But there are times when you may want to devote these resources toward getting rid of your grass.

This takes a little bit of practice – I kind of tap the edger up and down under the grass to get it started – if you try to just push it through the clump falls over.

Here are three ways to permanently remove grass in preparation for your next garden project:

Inspect your new bed’s subsoil (and the underside of the sod if it will be reused). Once the sod is gone, look for and destroy potential pests, such as the larvae of May/June beetles. Remove any rocks, remaining clumps of grass, and sizable roots.

Digging up a lawn can be more difficult with a tenacious perennial grass such as Bermuda, which has deep roots and will regrow from portions of the root. For this type of grass, you'll need to kill the plant before you remove it. Killing the grass completely may require herbicide.

sygxaritiria ston kyrio mbarka…panta o kwstas mbarkas htan einai kai tha einai konta sto synanthropous mas.alwste to exei apodiksei einai o monos vouleftis pou exei to thl pantote anixto gia ton opiondipote kai asxoloite me ola ta provlimata tou kathe agapi /O GERMATIS.

A.  Turves make good compost, pile them grass side down out of the way somewhere and cover with old sacks / carpet / weighted down bin bags etc. to keep the light out. By autumn, they should have made good garden compost.

And if all this works, and isn’t too hard for me, I’d like to put monkey grass all in that sidewalk street area too all around that corner lot. Then maybe I won’t have to cut that strip of grass on that street strip any more?

When you've gone about one or two spade lengths under the turf, tilt the spade sideways or front to back to rip the turf you've separated and rip it off from the rest. Repeat until you've done it all.

Once you have killed your grass for good, it’s now time to plant your sun or shade plant package!

If you do use the turf elsewhere, then plan things so the lifted turf has the minimum amount of time before it is put down again - ideally immediately, certainly within 24 hours or up to 48 hours if you don't mind it looking ill for a while.

Once you've marked the line by cutting through to about 2-3 inches down, insert the spade at about 45 degrees and then tilt it downwards to cut forwards at a depth of about an inch under the soil. The spade should be turned to become flat. If you're right-handed, then your right hand on the spade handle will supply the effort to do this while your left hand steadies the spade near the blade.

If you want to re-lay the turf you have lifted, you could hire a "professional machine". The most common turf cutters like the one in the picture result in turf that is rather messy and can't really be re-laid again, it's best composted as it's all chewed up in irregular sized pieces.

A tilled bed can be planted immediately, but the process brings to the surface weed seeds that may germinate and cause problems later. You may also wind up inadvertently propagating some weeds like quack grass, which can send up new shoots from the small pieces of its chopped-up rhizome. Canada thistle does the same thing with its severed lateral roots. If you keep the soil moist and delay planting by a couple of weeks, you can pull, hoe, or otherwise dispatch these weeds as they emerge.

Deano started by cutting through the sod along my paint lines.  An added bonus – he’s an artist, so he tweaked some of the curves and it looks better than my original outline.  (Of course I gave him grief about not staying in the lines though!)

Before beginning any excavation, call 811 to check for underground utilities.

Need Tips for your garden or have questions about conservation? Ask an Expert!

What you want to avoid is digging great clods on earth up with a bit of grass on top, this is very hard work and removes large quantities of soil that you then have to do something with - and probably replace too.

It is possible to re-lay this turf, but you have to lift it carefully, even then you will find that it's a case of having mosaic pieces with varying backing soil thicknesses,rather than continuous strips, so useful to repair small areas of damage but not to lay as extensive areas of turf elsewhere.

And then I started digging.  And digging.  And sweating.  The usual.

This method produces quick, clean results and allows you to plant your garden immediately. But using a spade or fork to remove sod can result in a lot of sweat and sore muscles. If the sod is in good condition, you can use it elsewhere in your yard.

I thought that maybe I bought the wrong type since it was rounded instead of squared (and i figured that was why I couldn’t get it to work!).  As it turns out, the shape really didn’t matter.  I actually think that the rounded edge probably requires a little less effort – so cheers for a rounded edger!

By using our site you accept the terms of our Privacy Policy.

Very often when putting new plants into the garden or planting up a new bed, tree, shrub etc. the first step is to remove some turf to make way for your new introductions. Removing existing turf is hard work, but if you follow this technique, it becomes easier than the ways in which I've often seen people try to deal with it.

Soil types and soil improvement Clay soil Extreme clay soil Garden compost - how to make it

Herbicides kill grass quickly, but it’s often unclear what else they do in the soil.

Once  the piece is loose, turn it on it’s side (hold it in place with your foot), and slide the edger under the grass so that you slice the grass off, and all of the soil remains in your bed.

I’m going to be putting in an above ground pool and found your blog on sod removal, this is a way better idea than what I was fixing to do. I was gonna do it the hard way as you started out doing to get my spot leveled out. Thanks to you and Deano for this tip.

How to dig up grass

I can’t wait to see what you do with the expanded beds Brenda! We’re thinking about expanding the garden, which would involve tearing up sod to make room…thanks for the tip! It’s not a task I was looking forward to and I’m glad that it doesn’t have to be as hard as I thought it would be.

Stretch light-excluding plastic over the lawn.With the edges securely anchored, the temperature under the plastic will increase dramatically. The high temperatures and lack of light will eventually kill the grass, although they can also destroy beneficial organisms. Plastic can be covered for aesthetic purposes, but it isn’t biodegradable and should eventually be removed.

Ohhhhhh Thank You. Thank you for sharing information. I have one of these and I too had no idea how to use it. I’m looking forward to seeing your finished beds

Roll up the strips if you skip the crosscut step, and keep peeling the strip back. Keep in mind, though, that these rolls will be heavy. If you are installing a large bed, consider renting a sod cutter. These steel-bladed, plowlike tools are more efficient than spades for large jobs, and they come in human- and gas-powered models.

Pros: Is relatively simple and quick for gardeners experienced in herbicide use; makes it easier to remove or turn grassCons: Risks injuring or killing nearby plants; can result in environmental contamination, personal injury, or harm to beneficial organisms when used improperlyTip: Follow label directions carefully, including those for product storage and disposal. Use only products specifically formulated for the types of plants you want to kill.

Well-established turf may require more than one application. It takes several days for effective absorption of herbicides. Grass and weed seeds in the soil will not be affected and may germinate later. This option may be reasonable if you have appropriate equipment and follow safety instructions and application recommendations carefully.

Weedkiller - use a glyphosate containing weedkiller to kill grass in the area you want. Glyphosate is neutralised on contact with the soil and so what doesn't fall on plant leaves won't cause any damage. Make sure you DON'T USE PATH WEEDKILLER as this stays in the soil and carries on killing any plant life for months after application.

Pros: Permits immediate planting; avoids use of chemicals and loud power toolsCons: Is labor intensive; exposes subsoil to weed seeds by eliminating vegetative cover; removes organic matterTip: Sharpen your tools before using them, and minimize muscle and joint strain by using ergonomically designed tools or tools of appropriate length and grip.

Once the outline is cut (edged), work in small sections.  Cut a strip of sod (about as wide as your edger), from the beginning of the grass section to the outline that you’ve already edged.  It sounds confusing, but think of it like cutting a sheet cake.  In this step, you’re cutting the width for all of the slices.

This makes perfect sense and I do have some areas to be worked on. I’ll be sure to show your post to the hubs!! ;-D