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How to Rototill a Lawn

motoculteur image by Nath Photos from

When clearing a lawn for renovation or to install a different growing area in a landscape, one of the first steps is to remove the existing grass. While you can accomplish this by using hand tools such as a shovel or a garden spade, you could make faster progress with a rototiller. A rototiller, with its powerful engine and strong tilling blades, can effectively turn over existing turf in a lawn. Rototill a lawn to remove the grass so that you can replant the area.

Apply glyphosate herbicide to the lawn area before you rototill to kill the grass. While rototilling alone will disturb the grass roots, they may successfully reestablish themselves within the lawn area and begin growing again. To avoid this from occurring, saturate the grass thoroughly with the herbicide on a warm and sunny day when you do not expect rain within 48 hours.

Wait while the glyphosate kills the grass. It may take between one and two weeks for the grass to visibly wither and die.

Set the depth of the rototiller to 4 inches. Position the rototiller at the edge of the lawn area with the blades facing into the area.

Start the rototiller and place both hands on the handles. Release the lever to engage the rototilling blades and the rototiller will begin to advance across the lawn. Guide the rototiller as it chews up the lawn, allowing the rototiller to work the soil while you simply push it where you want it to go.

Continue rototilling the lawn until you finish turning over all the grass and soil. Turn the rototiller off.

Use a rake to work through the turned-over soil. As you rake the soil, remove the chunks of dead grass and place them into a large bin to remove them from the area. Continue raking to remove all debris.

Rake the soil surface smooth to finish the clearing process.


If you do not apply the glyphosate herbicide first, you may need to rototill the lawn once and then wait two to three weeks for any weed and grass seeds to germinate. After this germination occurs, rototill the area a second time to clear it completely.


Keep people and pets away from the lawn area while you apply the glyphosate and while the application area remains wet.

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