Ways to Kill Grass

Homeowners value their lawns to such a degree that the idea of killing grass might bring gasps of surprise. Gardeners often face this option to add new gardens to the landscape. A healthy growing lawn produces grass roots that penetrate deeply into the soil. Tenacious grass will pop up in the new garden or aggravate the neat lines on the edge of the garden plot. Ways to kill grass include the use of herbicides like Roundup that contain glyphosate. However, this requires time and many gardeners prefer to limit the use of chemicals in their yard. Plenty of options exist to remove unwanted grassy areas without using harsh chemicals in the landscape.

Manual Grass Removal

Healthy grass requires tenacious effort for successful removal. Manual removal involves digging deeply with a shovel to a depth of 6 to 8 inches to reach grass roots. Lift the section of sod completely from the soil, place it elsewhere in the yard or dispose of it with yard waste. This method effectively tackles the immediate removal of grass and limits later infestations in the planting area.

Plastic Tarp

That old plastic tarp lying in the garage provides the perfect option for killing grass. Cover the grass areas completely with the tarp and stake the edges tightly or place heavy rocks, railroad ties or wood to hold the plastic in place. Allow the tarp to sit in place for 3 to 4 weeks to effectively kill the grass. Dig up dead grass or till the soil to encourage decomposition of the dead grass and roots.


Mulch works wonders to smother weeds and performs the same way to smother existing grass areas. Place a three- to four-sheet layer of newspaper over the grassy area and pile on a 4-inch layer of mulch. This method kills the majority of the grass as long as the mulch layer remains in place. Adding more mulch over time will discourage regrowth of stray grass. Don't remove the newspaper or mulch. Both will decompose slowly into the soil while killing the grass.

Quick Fix

Often the need to kill grass quickly exceeds the patience of the gardener to wait for mulch or plastic tarps to work. Mow the grass at the lowest possible setting on the mower. Rototilling the grassy area will chew up the grass but might present issues later on with the grass returning. Manually remove as many clumps as possible and pour on the mulch to a 4 to 6 inch depth. Be prepared to dig up errant clumps of grass well into the future since this method isn't foolproof.

Keywords: killing grass, grass removal, preparing a garden site

About this Author

S.F. Heron is an avid gardener with three years of experience in online writing and a working background in aviation and earth and ocean sciences. She is published on various sites, including Helium, eHow and Xomba. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.