How to Change a Grass Lawn to Rocks


There are several reasons why you would want to change a grass lawn to rocks. It may be purely for aesthetic reasons; you may prefer the look of gravel over grass. You may want a lower maintenance yard that requires less water. Or, you may be dealing with a disease, insect, drought or flood situation. Once grass is affected by an infestation, it may never recover. To repair the landscape, you can replace the grass with some type of rock. It takes some work but if you set aside a weekend for the project, you will be happy with the results.

Step 1

Eliminate small areas of lawn with a sod cutter. It has a long handle with a small platform at the base. There is a blade on the underside of the platform.

Step 2

Step on the platform to make the blade cut into the grass. Slice into all unwanted areas to loosen the grass. Pick up the pieces with a hoe or flat shovel. Put the grass in a compost pile or roll it up and replant it somewhere else on your property. Rent a gas-powered sod cutter to tackle large lawns. Run the machine down the length of the grass you want to remove. Make a second path 2 feet from the first one, in a parallel direction. Roll up the sod to use it somewhere else or dispose of it.

Step 3

Kill stubborn grass with a weed killer. The herbicide will attack the plant by the roots. Rake up the dead grass once the chemical has had time to work.

Step 4

Lay down a sheet of black plastic for a less labor-intensive method of killing the grass. Leave it in place for at least one week. Remove the dead grass with a rake.

Step 5

Choose a stone to lay down. They vary in color and size. River rock comes in 1/2- to 1-inch and 1- to 1 1/2-inch size, and is available in shades of brown, gray or tan. River rock can be difficult to walk on. Pea gravel is smaller, about 1/4 inch in size, is gray in color and easy to walk on. However, heavy rainfall can move gravel. Chips of marble measure about 1 inch and are white. Another choice is lava rock, which is black or maroon and measures 1 inch.

Step 6

Measure the planting area. Multiply the length by the width to come up with the square footage. Use this number to determine how much rock to buy. In general, 1 ton of rock will cover 100 square feet, 2 inches deep.

Step 7

Transport the rock to the yard with a wheelbarrow. Spread it with a pitchfork or shovel.

Things You'll Need

  • Sod cutter tool
  • Sod cutter machine
  • Flat shovel or hoe
  • Herbicide
  • Roll of black plastic
  • Rake
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Pitchfork
  • Rocks


  • Ground Maintenance: Sod Cutters Do More Than The Name Implies
  • This Old House: Removing Established Grass
Keywords: lawn grass rocks, dig up grass, rocks not grass

About this Author

Kelly Shetsky has been a broadcast journalist for more than 10 years, researching, writing, producing and reporting daily on many topics. In addition, she writes for several websites, specializing in medical, health and fitness, arts and entertainment, travel and business. Shetsky has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Marist College.