Grass is usually a desirable plant, whether it's flat turfgrass or stands of ornamental grass. During a landscape or lawn renovation, you may wish to kill the grass. Although all types of grass can be quickly eliminated with an herbicide like glyphosate, products containing it are generally toxic and may not be considered eco-friendly. Several green options are available for those who want to kill grass without depending on poisonous substances.
Manual removal is one of the fastest ways to kill grass and requires no toxic chemicals. Methods of manual removal vary but commonly include the use of a spade or a sod cutter. The sheets of removed sod can be discarded or laid out in the sun to dry before being added to a compost bin.
A flamethrower or a controlled open fire can be used to quickly eliminate all grassy vegetation. Though this method doesn't use toxic herbicides, some gardeners may not find it as environmentally friendly as they would wish due to the release of air pollutants like ash, as well as the dependence on fossil fuels if using a gas-powered flamethrower. If using a controlled burn, consult your municipal fire department to determine if any local laws govern the starting of a fire.
The steam and hot temperature of boiling water collapses the cells of plants and causes widespread wilting. Repeated usage will kill grass, according to Texans for Alternatives to Pesticides. This is best for small patches of grass, since applying boiling water to an entire lawn would be unfeasible.
Entire lawns can be killed at once by smothering. Two major options can be used. First, you can harness the heat of the sun by covering the grass with a plastic sheet weighed down on the edges. The heat of the sun and the lack of water will bake the grass and kill it over the course of two to three months. Alternatively, if you want to plant over the grass immediately, use newspaper. Place a layer of newspaper sheets, overlapping and four to five sheets thick, over the grass followed by 6 to 8 inches of compost or topsoil. The underlying grass will die and you can plant new vegetation immediately in the compost layer.