Removing Lawn – Simply and Violently

One thing I’ve been hiding from everyone is that I am wretched at lawn care.  Possibly because I don’t care beyond Devin (pup) having a place to, you know, do her thing.

We wanted less lawn to mow and more area to plant different varieties of crops (preferring a combination of reliable harvests with room to experiment).  A tree is in this new area, but we think it will add to the serenity of the growing area.

Here’s what it looks like right now.  We’re still getting poured upon pretty heavily so we haven’t planted just yet.


And, I know the angle is different, but here is what it looks like just after removal.




  • A landscape edging tool.  Which looks exactly like this:

Lawn removal edging tool = $25

  • A shovel
  • Grungy clothes (including shoes ready for mud)
  • Gloves

Like I said the last time I removed lawn, it isn’t an automatic process and it isn’t light work, but this time especially the removal area was so small that a machine would be impractical.  So download your podcast or Audible and get to work.

In a nutshell, cut sod strips out of your lawn.  Push the landscape edging tool straight down into the lawn.  Make a line all the way down the length of the lawn.  Then, about 12″ to 18″ away, cut another parallel line.  Then pull up the strip.  you may want to use a shovel to pry it loose.  Get down there.  Bend with the knees.  Grunt.  Enjoy.




…then roll

Then a little care and attention, and the place is now ready for planting.


Circular planting space that we’re really excited about.  Plants forthcoming!

And here’s the other half of the lawn.  Which I killed mercilessly during the drought.


I could put a claim to conscientious water conservation.  But the reality was dire neglect and shameless apathy.  The grass that makes a lawn a lawn died in most areas, and weeds filled in the void.  The fast flowering pervasive species were a clear and present threat to all garden plots in the area, and the rock beds now harbored weeds.

Well, we hardly have drought anymore.  So far I’ve cut out 75% of the lawn or so for raised and level gardens with mulch between all the plots.  I had no intentions of buying more sod when I know I’d rather not waste so much water, and so I’ve gone with a much more environmental solution: clover.

Clover has lots of benefits over lawn.  It is better at nourishing the soil.  It requires less water and stays green.  It has pretty flowers.  Seeds are cheap.  It’s not as sturdy as lawn, but it’s sturdy enough for backyard (light/moderate) use.  You can mow it, or you can not mow it (grows to about 8″ tall).  And the chickens can eat all of that, so everybody wins.

Here’s what a can of clover looks like:


I won’t lie about the labor.  Damage had been done and I had work cut out for me – but again, thank…well, myself, that the lawn is a small fraction of its original size.  On my hands and knees I weeded the area.  Then I used a cultivator to loosen the soil.  No gentle raking across the surface here.  With two hands I jammed the prongs into place and shredded the surface until I had at least 1.5 inches of loose soil.


A can of clover is about $7.  And that may cover 11′ by 11′ for a densely packed spread.



And so far so good.  I’m glad I don’t have as much lawn to deal with, or to waste water on.  I should be able walk on it in a couple weeks.  Here is a very recent picture.  Well worth the effort.








One thought on “Removing Lawn – Simply and Violently

  1. Another great tool for removing grass is a weeding sickle like this one It slices right under the roots and makes it much easier to pull up the sod. I’ve removed huge areas of grass with it and found the process very satisfying! It’s also wonderful for weeding. Do a youtube search for Nejiri Kama for some visuals.

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