How to Operate a Sod Cutter


A sod cutter is the most commonly used gardening tool after a shovel, and with reason. It removes unwanted grass or vegetation from a spot quickly to clear the area for a flowerbed, walkway or path. This modern-day alternative to a shovel gives the garden a manicured and neat look quickly, thus saving time and energy. Manual and mechanized sod cutters are available in the market, both of which help a gardener achieve an attractive lawn that stands out in the neighborhood.

Step 1

Visualize the area you want to clear so you demarcate it with powdered chalk appropriately. Make 3-foot squares if clearing a small area or up to 3-foot wide strips for a large area, which helps remove sod in uniform squares or strips so you transplant them elsewhere instead of disposing of them. Wear gloves and demarcate the area with powdered chalk.

Step 2

Start at a corner of your area, and hold your mechanized sod cutter firmly over the spot. Make sure the gear is in neutral, and start the engine by pulling the cord. You may have to pull several times before it starts. Press the handle, and pull the blade engagement lever. Shift the gear to the lowest level.

Step 3

Press the handle while the sod cutter operates for a short distance. Place it in neutral, and check the thickness of the sod to determine the appropriate depth. To set the cutting depth of the blades to your desired level, turn the depth knob clockwise for a shallow thickness or anticlockwise for a deep cut. Reposition the sod cutter over the spot, and resume cutting until you cut it to your desired depth.

Step 4

Push your manual sod cutter into the soil at the spot you want to clear, just like you would a shovel. The roots will tear when it reaches the required depth. Extend it all around the square or strip.

Step 5

Insert the shovel portion of the cutter under the demarcated square or strip to tear the roots underneath so it comes loose. Lift the square and place it aside. Continue this process until you remove the sod from the area.

Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • Powdered chalk
  • Mechanized or manual sod cutter


  • Taylor Rental Nashua: Sod Cutter

Who Can Help

  • Hanson Valley: Sod Installation Tips
Keywords: sod cutter, operating a sod cutter, sod cutters

About this Author

Tanya Khan is a freelance author and consultant, having written hundreds of thousands of words for various online and print sources. She has an MBA in Marketing but her passion lies in giving her words wings.