How to Change From Turf to Xeriscape


Healthy, green lawns enhance many types of landscapes, yards and parks. However, these expanses of grass involve work to maintain the health and appearance of the lawn, as well as adequate amounts of water and fertilizer. In arid climates or areas where water is at a premium, xeriscaping provides an economical alternative to turf grasses. Conserving water through xeriscaping involves removal of existing turf and replacement with materials and plants that require less water.

Step 1

Draw out your new xeriscape design. Before making any physical changes in your landscape, make a design on paper of your desired outcome. Use a piece of graph paper and a pencil to create a measured illustration of your idea. Include areas of groundcovers, such as gravel, bark and vegetative selections. Leave small areas of turf to enhance the landscape and provide a soft area for kids and pets. Mark out your sketched design on your lawn by pounding wooden stakes around the perimeter of planters, flowerbeds and groundcovers. Attach string or tape to the posts to section off these areas of your xeriscape.

Step 2

Dig up the existing turf in areas designated for replacement with other materials or plants. Use a sharp, square shovel to cut through the grass. Cut down to a depth of 3 to 4 inches to remove the entire root sections of your turf grass. Score small sections approximately 1 to 2 feet square for easy removal. Use your shovel to scoop out these small sections of sod, one at a time. Remove all sod from the area in this manner to provide a bare surface for your xeriscape.

Step 3

Place weed-blocking fabric or plastic over areas intended for mulch. Use this fabric to block the growth and emergence of dormant plants and roots. Use decorative rock, bark or woodchips for mulch. These mulches make a nice alternative to water-consuming plants and turf grasses. Lay your mulch over the top of the fabric.

Step 4

Plant shrubs, trees, flowers and vegetative groundcovers in the areas you marked for this purpose. Add soil amendments to areas of negligible topsoil. Incorporate sand and compost into the existing soil to provide nutrients and good drainage for your plants. Complete your xeriscape by selecting plants that require minimal amounts of moisture to thrive. Common plants for xeriscaping include junipers, yucca, honeysuckle and daylilies.

Things You'll Need

  • Graph paper
  • Pencil
  • Wooden stakes
  • String or tape
  • Square shovel
  • Weed-blocking fabric or plastic
  • Rock, bark or woodchips
  • Sand
  • Compost
  • Plants


  • University of Georgia: Guide to Developing a Water-Wise Landscape
  • Colorado State University: Xeriscaping
  • HGTV: Sod-Busting
Keywords: xeriscape, remove sod, landscape

About this Author

Laura Dee is a writer, artist, and the co-owner of Wallace & Wallace Copywriting,an online business which specializes in providing marketing materials and copy to various companies. She has written for Demand Studios since 2008 and is currently working on a series of childrens' picture books.