Time to Take out That Thirsty Turf?


By: Darren Nowels, Water Programs Manager: Audit and Retrofit Programs

After a long summer of keeping your grass green and paying seemingly endless water bills, you might be pondering alternatives to parts of your lawn that go unused or have been tough to keep alive. If that’s you, then you’re probably curious as to what options are out there to remove your turf. Luckily, we’ve come up with a few options to get you started taking out that thirsty turf!

Physical Removal: Whether you plan on taking out turf the old fashioned way (by hand), or using a sod cutter, this option is certainly the quickest way to get rid of your grass. However, this method can be very labor intensive, and is prone to grass regrowth.

If you choose to remove the turf by hand, you’ll need a square shovel or a grape grubbing hoe. Then, using your tool of choice, all you have to do is dig up the turf, making sure to get deep enough to remove the grass roots. If you’d like to skip a weekend’s worth of manual labor, you can rent a sod cutter from your local hardware store or other tool rental shop. Using a sod cutter is much like pushing a lawn mower, except you’ll be cutting a bit more than a couple inches of grass. All you have to do is cut the turf in strips, roll it up, and move it out.

Solarization: This is one of the most efficient and easy ways of killing your grass, but it does take a bit of time and is a bit unsightly during the process. Plus, it only works in sunny and hot areas and should be started in late spring to take advantage of as much heat as possible.

To solarize your lawn, you’ll first need to mow the grass as short as possible and saturate it with water. Then, cover the grass up with clear plastic sheeting, securing it with heavy objects or metal stakes to protect from wind, etc. After 4-8 weeks, as long as the weather has been nice and hot, you’ll be able to remove the plastic and admire the blank canvas of dead grass!

Sheet Mulching: Much like solarization, this is effective and requires less manual labor than physical removal, plus it builds rich soil! However, it does take the longest time, around 6 months to complete.Fall is the best time to start sheet mulching, so you could begin this as early as this weekend!

To get started, simply mow the grass as low as possible, then spread a 2-inch layer of nitrogen-rich organic compost over the area. Next, lay out cardboard or newspaper (10-12 sheets thick) over the area, ensuring everything overlaps and no sunlight can get it. Spread another layer of compost over the cardboard or newspaper, then top that with organic material such as grass clippings, leaves, farm manure, straw, or food scraps. Top it all off with a 4-inch layer of mulch and watch as it all decomposes over the next 6 months and get ready to plant your new garden in the spring if you started in the fall.

For more specific information on all of these turf removal options be sure to check out CRC’s Turf Removal 101 fact sheet.

Garden In A Box is a great replacement for your turf!

If you’ve made the decision to remove turf but are wondering what to put in instead, look no further. With CRC’s Garden In A Box, we do all the planning and plant selections for you. With a Garden In A Box, you’ll get a full garden’s worth of beautiful, low water-using plants along with a plant by number map and all the info you need to plant and take care of the garden.

While gardens are all sold out for now, you can sign up today to be one of the first to be contacted when gardens go on sale early next spring!