How to Remove Sod From a Lawn


If you want to put in a flower or vegetable garden in your yard, the first thing you'll have to do is remove the turf grass. Rototilling disturbs the soil structure and may expose long-dormant weed seeds or pests that were hiding underground, and using a shovel or sod cutter can be hard, back-breaking work. The easiest and most ecologically friendly way to remove sod from a lawn is with a technique known as lasagna gardening or sheet composting.

Step 1

Mark the area where you'd like to remove the sod with stakes. If the existing grass is very long, cut it short with a lawn mower. Leave the grass clippings in place.

Step 2

Lay down either a single layer of corrugated cardboard or six to 10 sheets of newspaper. Avoid using colored or glossy paper or cardboard.

Step 3

Wet the cardboard or newspaper thoroughly to keep it from blowing away.

Step 4

Cover the newspaper or cardboard with a layer of dry leaves or straw. If you have access to large amounts of food waste like fruit and vegetable trimmings, you may also spread this over the garden plot to compost.

Step 5

Cover the plot with a layer of topsoil, finished compost or composted manure.

Step 6

Repeat Steps 4 and 5 as many times as you can with the materials you have on hand.

Step 7

Wait three to 12 months. The cardboard will smother out the grass and weeds and will decompose over time. The leaves, straw and food waste will also decompose and will create a layer of healthy topsoil rich in nutrients. The moist conditions created with lasagna gardening will attract earthworms, which will help improve your soil's drainage and fertility.

Things You'll Need

  • Stakes
  • Newspapers or corrugated cardboard
  • Straw or dry leaves
  • Topsoil, compost or composted manure
  • Food waste (optional)
  • Lawnmower (optional)


  • Sheet Mulch
  • Four Ways to Remove Sod

Who Can Help

  • "No-Work Garden Book" by Ruth Stout
Keywords: remove turf grass, no till garden, sheet composting, lasagna gardening, kill sod

About this Author

Sonya Welter graduated cum laude from Northland College in 2002, and has worked in the natural foods industry for nearly seven years. As a freelance writer, she specializes in food, health, nature, gardening and green living. She has been published on, and several local print publications in Duluth, Minn.