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There are countless reasons to remove an existing lawn. For example, to lay out a terrace, to create a vegetable patch, or simply to replace a lawn infested with weeds with new, lush green. Here you can find out everything you need to know about the possible ways to eliminate a lawn. We will also tell you how to remove the turf step by step using the most common method and create a good basis for all subsequent work.

Remove turf

There are various ways to remove the grass easily, quickly and thoroughly at the same time. Depending on the local conditions, time window and technical requirements, one or the other variant can score points with their respective advantages.

notice: If you follow the explanations of landscape gardeners, do-it-yourself forums or classic guides, the multitude of variants seems at first to be overwhelming. On closer inspection, however, all individual solutions can be reduced to a handful of methods, each of which differs blatantly in the type of approach to removing the sod.

A distinction is made between three different variants for removing the lawn and root layer:

  • mechanical processes
  • chemical processes
  • biological methods

If you look at the individual processes in detail, however, there are further differences in the categorizations that have already been made, which open up significantly different orientations and possible uses even within a category.

notice: Some of the methods presented seem almost comical at first. Because the use of tarpaulins or animals seems rather strange for the home lawn. However, certain framework conditions regarding the timeline or the available options in individual cases can mean that these methods should not be completely dismissed.

mechanical processes

The grass and roots are removed by cutting, lifting, peeling off or other working methods with the help of classic, mechanical tools. Whether it is "just" a spade or even a complex machine with its own drive is initially irrelevant.

Cut off sod

A standard garden spade is primarily used when cutting off the sod. It is then used to divide the grass surface into handy, easy-to-handle pieces. A kind of checkerboard pattern is well suited for this. Starting from one side, the pieces divided in this way can then be easily loosened between the soil and the root layer by piercing with a spade, removed and disposed of.

Required tools expenditure of time benefits disadvantage
  • spade
  • bucket or wheelbarrow
  • Aids for disposal (car + trailer etc.)
  • high because it is purely manual work
  • Immediate control of the success possible after each piece of lawn
  • easy to implement even in difficult terrain
  • low cost
  • hardly any noise
  • high expenditure of time
  • low area performance per hour

digging up

Digging up the lawn is a simple but time-consuming activity. Similar to digging up the kitchen garden in autumn, the lawn is divided into manageable pieces and turned with the grass down. By cutting off the roots from the water supply, as well as depriving them of light and air, the grass plants die off over time.

Required tools expenditure of time benefits disadvantage
  • spade
  • high, since it is purely manual activity and then a waiting time until it dies off
  • no disposal necessary
  • low cost of materials
  • low noise development
  • almost cost-neutral
  • not a fully guaranteed success
  • individual grasses can grow through inverted soil
  • long waiting times until the grass dies off

Machine-assisted peeling

So-called lawn peelers are motor-driven machines with which the turf can be removed from the ground with little effort and high working speed. Depending on the device, this is done in pieces or as continuous strips, which can then be loaded quite easily and transported away for disposal.

Required tools expenditure of time benefits disadvantage
  • lawn peeler
  • wheelbarrow or bucket
  • Car + trailer for disposal
  • low due to the use of machines
  • high area performance
  • little effort
  • suitable for large areas of lawn
  • noise from devices
  • high financial expense
  • Not very suitable in unfavorable terrain or manual reworking required

tip: Machines can usually be borrowed for a short time and for little money from hardware stores. This means that there is no need to purchase expensive machines that are no longer required later.

Digging with mechanical assistance

With the help of a motor hoe, the lawn is torn up, chopped up and then dug under. Similar to manual digging, the grass is also cut off from its water supply and killed in the soil by depriving it of light and oxygen.

Required tools expenditure of time benefits disadvantage
  • tiller
  • manual tools, such as stretchers or hoes for post-processing
  • relatively low
  • depending on the post-processing, on the other hand, a high expenditure of time is possible
  • high area performance
  • no disposal required
  • little supply of new material necessary
  • Danger of not completely killing the turf

chemical processes

The plant is not removed mechanically. Instead, the lawn is killed off entirely through the use of chemicals. Depending on the planned further procedure, however, this chemical method may require additional work steps, since the dead grass initially remains in place.

Plant or even special lawn killers are chemical substances with which the grass can be specifically combated and killed. Once applied, the toxins are absorbed into the plant with the water, where they develop their own destructive effect.

Required tools expenditure of time benefits disadvantage
  • Lawn destroyer
  • protective clothing (goggles, gloves)
  • watering can or sprayer
  • operation very low
  • but then long waiting time until the full effect develops
  • low workload
  • high effectiveness
  • no mandatory disposal necessary
  • high load on the floor
  • Danger of damage to neighboring vegetation
  • very specific requirements for effectiveness (temperature, precipitation, etc.)

biological methods

These methods use normal biological processes in a targeted manner to stop the growth of the sod and in the process cause the lawn to die off in a targeted manner. However, these approaches are usually more time-consuming to implement and at the same time less "radical" than other methods.


Cover the lawn. With a tarpaulin, for example, the lawn can be covered in just a few simple steps. The deprivation of light and air, as well as the heat build-up underneath, cause the lawn to die over time. The separation from the natural water supply does the rest.

Required tools expenditure of time benefits disadvantage
  • light and airtight tarpaulin
  • Material to secure position because of drift
  • Post-processing tools (hoe, spade, etc.)
  • small amount
  • however, very high expenditure of time for waiting time until the effect occurs
  • low workload
  • no use of chemical substances for killing
  • lengthy procedure
  • for large areas it is necessary to move the tarpaulins several times, resulting in low area coverage

Intense grazing

The consequences of intensive pastoralism for meadows can be observed in many ways. However, this can also be used specifically for the desired removal of grass areas. Sheep and goats in particular are not particularly picky. They not only consume blades of grass, but usually also the entire above-ground root areas at the same time. As a result, the turf dies off irretrievably during intensive grazing. Thus, a lawn can be removed in a “natural” way.

Required tools expenditure of time benefits disadvantage
  • Sheep or goats with the necessary infrastructure for care and supervision
  • high
  • up to several weeks or even a few months
  • very natural procedure without the use of chemical substances
  • as well as nutrient supply through animal feces
  • lengthy process
  • Uniformity rarely given
  • not feasible depending on the area due to animal husbandry

danger: Whenever the grass is not removed but killed, the question then arises as to whether the dead plants should be worked in or removed anyway. There is no definitive answer to this. Because the follow-up measures depend heavily on future use. Depending on the decision, however, an additional effort may arise.

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