Lawn grass can be removed using several methods. The method you choose will depends on how large the lawn is to be removed, how fast you want to accomplish the task and, of course, your budget. The easiest methods are also the slowest, but the least expensive. Watch the weather and give yourself a nice, cool weekend to get the work done.
Black Plastic Method
Mow your lawn on the lowest setting when the weather starts to get hot. This method will not work in the winter as it takes the summer heat and sun to kill the grass.
Water the lawn well, evenly soaking the ground. Roll out sheets of black plastic over the lawn and cover completely, being careful not to poke any holes in the plastic. Hold the edges down with bricks or rocks so as not to allow air to blow under the plastic.
Check the lawn in six weeks to see if the grass is dead. If not, leave the plastic in place and check again in another two weeks. Depending on the type of grass and the weather, this method can take up to several months.
Remove the plastic when the grass is dead and turn the soil with a hoe or tiller. Because the heat kills essential nutrients, micro-organisms and worms in the soil, if you're planning on planting anything, you will need add soil amendments before planting.
Sod Cutting Method
Use a square shovel to remove sod from small areas, or a sod cutter for larger areas or whole lawns. Pile the lawn pieces somewhere where you can leave them for a while.
Stack the cut pieces of sod and cover with black plastic. If you leave them alone for about six months, the pieces of sod will break down and make compost that you can use for planting shrubs, trees and other lawn plants.
Apply herbicide to the soil where the grass was removed, if your sod was a perennial grass such as Bermuda grass. Water the herbicide in and wait for a week to see if the all the grass was killed. Repeat if necessary.
Mow the lawn as short as possible and then cover it with a dusting of lime. Cover the lime with an inch of compost.
Till the lawn to a depth of 12 inches. Rake out as much of the grass and weeds as you can. Wait for three weeks for new weeds to pop up.
Till the lawn again--this time, you won't need to go as deep. Rake out the soil again and then apply herbicide. Water the herbicide in and wait for another two weeks.
Till the top few inches to get out any small weeds that came up. At this point, you should have removed most of the grass and weeds. However, if the removed grass was Bermuda grass, you may have to spot treat with herbicide for several months afterward.