Remove the Lawn

There is a growing trend in California to replace water-thirsty lawns with landscapes that use less water and are more sustainable. Below are ways to remove your lawn depending on how much manual labor you want to invest, how much you want to spend, and how quickly you want it removed.

Sheet Mulching

Sheet mulching is a technique to “compost” your lawn right in place. This method maintains the soil structure, adds organic matter, requires a moderate amount of labor, and does not require removal and disposal of turf.

To sheet mulch a lawn, you cover the lawn with layers of compost, cardboard and mulch. This creates a condition that causes the lawn and lawn roots to decompose right in place. This eliminates a lot of hard work and you don’t have to dispose of the lawn. For a step by step guide see our Lawn Removal webinar video and presentation, and check out mulch coupons.

Physical Removal

You can physically remove a lawn by digging it up with a pic-mattock and shovel. This is labor-intensive work, but may be a cost efficient choice if the lawn is fairly small. Alternatively, the fastest way to physically remove a lawn is to use a sod cutter. Sod cutters can be rented, or hire a professional. Please note: If you have a tree with roots near the surface, we recommend the sheet mulching process above so as not to damage your tree. 

For physical removal, follow these steps:

  1. Water the lawn two days before you plan to remove it so that the soil is moist several inches deep. This may require you to run the sprinkles several times to allow it to soak in.
  2. Review all safety precautions before using the sod cutter.
  3. Run the sod cutter in straight rows, sort of like you are mowing the grass. The sod cutter blade cuts the sod about 1-2 inches below the surface.
  4. Next, remove the sod by rolling it up and disposing it. Alternatively, you can lay the strips upside down in the new landscape area to create a mound or as fill in a low spot.
  5. Once the sod is removed, you will need to add soil amendment (compost) using a rototiller. This is vital to creating a healthy soil. Learn more about building a healthy soil.

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