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.

Wow, thanks for the tip! I am half way through one 8×4? garden bed and was spending way too much time getting the dirt off the sod; even trying to be careful not to decapitate worms with my trowel. I’m buying an edger on my way home tonight.

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.

Tilling lets a machine do most of the work, some of which is churning up thousands of dormant weed seeds.

Step one is to use a spade or lawn edger to cut through the grass a line that limits where the edge of your new bed is to be, go down 2-3 inches. You might be able to do this by eye as I am here, or you may want to use a straight edge or string and peg for circles. If you need to mark the grass out use flour, it's cheap, non-toxic and temporary, being brushed away or watered in quickly.

Removed turf - you'll have loads of this, pile it up out of the way somewhere with the grass side down, water it well with several watering cans worth and cover with old carpet or something and weight it down - bin bags at a pinch. In 6 months it will be ready to use as a mulch or to dig into the soil. The more grass in relation to soil the better.

Breaking up sod with a tiller requires some muscle, but most of the work is done by the tiller’s engine. Small tillers can usually handle previously worked gardens, but breaking up wellestablished sod requires a heavier, reartine unit and may require more than one pass. After tilling the bed, remove and shake the soil from any remaining clumps of grass.

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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.

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.

Perfect! I was just out breaking my back and googled a better way to remove sod and there you were! Im going out to buy an edger right now! Thank you!

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

Thank you soooo much. Looks like something this old gal could actually do!

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.

If you're going to start a new lawn, use the best type of grass for your soil and climate. See Choose the Right Grass for Your Lawn  and Seed Your Lawn: How and When to Plant Grass Seed.

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.

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.

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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.

One advantage of tilling is that the original organic matter is retained in the garden as the sod is turned under. You can add organic matter by forking or shoveling compost, manure, grass clippings, or leaf mold onto the sod before tilling.

Q. I have a large patch of lawn damaged by my boys playing football in wet weather. I am going to put down some astro turf in one corner to keep them off it. I am taking up some turf - circa 12m sq in a different part of the garden. Do you have any thoughts and tips on how to go about digging up the existing lawn to enable me to relay this.

You can plant right away if you’re using cardboard or newspaper. Just plug mature plants into holes that you have punched through the paper to the underlying soil.

For all of the talk about grass dying or looking unsightly during drought, it’s surprising how hard it can be to eliminate it when you’re doing it purposely. Grass can be tenacious and return to compete with new plants if it’s not eradicated properly.

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.

Thank you for the great tutorial! I’ve been scouring the internet for hours trying to figure out how to do this very thing. I’ll be buying an edger in the morning.

Q.   I have just dug up a large section of my lawn to make a flower bed and am wondering if there is anything I can do with my excess turf, i.e build a bank with it or is there a way to rot it down to use as a compost?

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.

Pros: Retains organic matter; is quicker and easier than digging; permits immediate plantingCons: Is difficult on rocky sites and in wet or clay soils; turns up weed seeds; propagates certain weedsTip: Large tillers can be hard to maneuver. You will likely need to carve the edge of your new bed with a spade or edger, especially if the border is curved.

A few weeks ago we had one of those warm, sweet spring days that made me forget my dread and grab my shovel.  Actually, I grabbed the garden hose and some spray paint first.  I used the hose to define the shape that I wanted for the beds, and then marked the outline with spray paint.

How to dig up grass

Wow, thanks for the tip! I am half way through one 8×4′ garden bed and was spending way too much time getting the dirt off the sod; even trying to be careful not to decapitate worms with my trowel. I’m buying an edger on my way home tonight.

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.

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

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

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Choose an appropriate product, and carefully follow the directions on the label if you decide to use herbicides to kill your grass. Be sure to buy a product designed to kill grasses (not one specific to broad-leaved plants), and check the expiration date.

Pests Ants Aphids - Greenfly, Blackfly Caterpillars Chafer beetle larvae Leatherjackets Lily beetle Mealy bugs Red spider mite Slugs and snails Vine weevil White fly Plant and lawn pests Fruit tree pests and problems

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.

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

Don’t apply herbicides when rain is expected or they may wash off plants and into the soil and nearby waterways. Also, avoid applying on windy days to prevent drift onto nearby plantings. Wear protective clothing, such as gloves, long sleeves, long pants, and a mask when applying herbicides.

I should try your method because we’ve got lot’s of grass that has turned to weeds. However, between our type of grass and the weeds, I’m not sure there is any decent way to do it, other than to let someone else have that chore. Unfortunately it’s getting mighty hot here. I think I missed my weather window of opportunity. At least I have your method to try should I finally get around to it. Thanks, Liz