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Tips on Removing a Lawn With a Sod Cutter

grass image by Brett Bouwer from

Although planting a new lawn can be a time-consuming venture, removing a mature lawn can also present challenges. The best method for removing an existing lawn is by using a sod cutter. This tool can help you lift sections of your mature lawn, including the grass blades, root sections and surrounding soil. This method of lawn removal allows you to transplant sod to other areas of your landscape, avoiding unnecessary waste. Like many landscaping tasks, this procedure requires some time and effort.

Create a Moist Environment

Water your lawn a few days before you plan to remove the sections of sod. A thorough watering will provide your grass blades with moisture before the stress of transplanting, and will also create a slightly moist soil medium. Soil that is too wet or too dry will resist cutting and removal, often causing crumbling or clumping soil to fall from the roots.

Trim Your Lawn

Mow your lawn before using the sod cutter. A good cutting will allow you to view the area of the soil that requires cutting. Shorter grass will also provide lighter sections of sod, enabling easier handling of the sections.

Measure and Mark

If you are only removing sections of your lawn, and not the whole area, carefully measure and mark the segments you want to remove. Mark the lines for cutting with a spray chalk or formula intended for use on sporting fields. Make your cuts before this light mark wears off or washes away in the rain.

Follow a Pattern

Starting at one side of your marked plot, begin removing the sod by placing the edge of the sod cutter against your marked line. Press the edge of the sod cutter into the turf and begin running the sod cutter along the edge of your line. Overlap the edge of your sod cutter with the removed section to avoid leavings strips of growing grass. Continue in the same manner until you reach the opposite side of your plot.

Keep it Manageable

Remove small sections of your lawn. Remember you will have to move the segments of sod and it can be quite heavy. Keep your sections manageable by cutting and lifting only sizes you can easily lift and carry. Cutting too much at once will also cause your grass’s root systems to dry out.

Keep Your Sod Alive

After running your sod cutter over a strip of lawn, lift the loosened section and place it on a piece of damp burlap. Stack the sod pieces or rolls on top of one another to help hold in moisture. Lightly sprinkle each layer of sod with a fine spray of water to keep the soil from drying out.

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