How to Remove Old Grass and Lay New Turf

Grass can turn brown during the winter months to conserve nutrients and water. Also, summer grass dormancy can occur due to intense heat and drought. Dormant turf is not attractive because of its brown tinge.

At this stage, it might be challenging to revive and keep the grass green, especially if you are not aware of the techniques to use. But you can restart a new lawn efficiently if you understand how to remove old grass and lay new turf.

While you can sow new turf over the existing lawn, preparing the lawn by removing the old grass will allow your garden to have proper drainage and reduce soil compaction issues. This improves grass growth and the end results.

Here is How to Remove Old Grass and Lay New Turf

1. Figure out the equipment to use to remove the old grass

The type of tools to use will depend on the size of your lawn. If you own a small yard, a shovel can work. And you can use a grass removal tool rental such as a sod cutter if your yard is big.

Although using gardening tools can save you a lot of money, the method is tiresome and time-consuming.

But with a sod cutter, the entire process can be quick and easy. All you need is to adjust the sod cutter blades to eliminate the old grass and the roots.

The good thing about the sod cutter is that it removes the existing grass and the topsoil. This technique will prevent new turf installation from raising the height of your yard.

Higher lawns can lead to patio flooding. That’s why it is recommended to use a sod cutter because it helps to cut the top layer of the soil.

2. Till the soil

Soil tillage is a vital seedbed preparation technique. It helps in burying crop residues, spreading nutrients, and loosening compacted soil.

With a rototiller, you will effectively till your yard to a depth of 6 inches to enhance seed development. Be careful not to till old grass in the soil since it can lead to future lawn issues such as fungus development.

Besides, a rototiller grass removal will help to remove the remaining roots and make the soil easy to re-grade.

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removing old grass for new sod
Newly Rototilled yard

3. Add a lawn starter fertilizer

Grass requires nutrients to grow. A good way to add nutrients into the soil is by adding a lawn starter fertilizer. This fertilizer has high levels of phosphorus which is makes the grass develop strong roots.

It is good to be keen when choosing fertilizer because some do not have proper nutrient balance. For instance, fertilizers designed for establishing lawns have little phosphorus.

Thus, it may not be suitable for root development.

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4. Figure out how much turf you need

The way you lay your new turf will determine the growth pattern of your grass. For instance, if you create gaps when installing the turf, you might have issues with lawn patches. To avoid this, you need to determine how much turf you’ll need.

To have a sufficient amount of sod, you need to measure the square footage of your yard. Use a calculator and a measuring tape to measure your entire yard. Add the square footage to know the exact measurements.

It is advisable to order more turf to be on the safer side.

5. Lay the new turf

Turf can die if left overnight on the pallet. Thus, it is good to install it the same day of delivery.

When installing the turf, start by rolling it in a designated corner while ensuring that they connect closely with the second piece of turf. This will help to prevent gaps between the turf pieces.

After you lay all the turf, run a lawn roller on the grass to keep the turf in place and remove air pockets. Also, this step will ensure turf to soil contact, encouraging your lawn to take root faster.

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6. Water the new turf

Watering your lawn will allow it to hold firmly in the soil. Also, it will make the grass resistant to diseases. That’s why it is good to water your lawn at least three times a day.

As you know, watering a large lawn can be time-consuming. Because of this, it is recommended to set up a sprinkler attached to the hose. With this, you will be sure that your turf gets enough water to enhance root growth.

FAQs about Removing the Old Grass and Laying New Turf

Can you lay new turf over existing grass?

Yes, you can lay new turf on the existing lawn, but it does not give the best results. If you lay new sod on the old grass, you will be preventing the new sod from rooting well.

Also, weeds can come through the new sod, making it deteriorate over time. Due to this, it is good to remove the existing lawn.

Which is the best method to remove an existing lawn?

The best method of removing the old turf depends on the size of your lawn and the weather condition. For instance, you can use the Solarization method to kill the old grass during hot conditions.

Here are other techniques for removing the existing lawn

Use of a weed killer

A non-selective herbicide will kill old grass to the root. All you need is to spray the weed killer according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Use a sod cutter

A sod cutter removes the grass and weeds underneath, leaving the yard flat. A sod cutter is an effective method because you can use the old grass to make compost at home.

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Do I need to level the ground before laying the new turf?

Yes, leveling will help you get the best results from your turf.

Also, it creates an aesthetic lawn that is easy to maintain and mow.

You can easily identify the irregularities of the ground by walking on the area.

When you sense any raised patches or hard ground through your feet, it is an indication that you need to level your yard.

When laying new sod, the first step should be to remove the old grass.

You can accomplish this by using methods such as herbicides, sod cutters, and solarization.

However, the techniques are not easy since some can fit your lawn better than others.

But if you learn how to remove old grass and lay new turf, you will have a healthy lawn that will add a visual appeal to your compound.


  • Ricky

    Hi, I’m Ricky. I’ve been involved in lawn care and landscaping from when I was 15. To be honest, I didn’t like the idea of pushing mowers, collecting grass clippings, and maintaining flowerbeds at the time. But having seem the passion my parents had for gardening and outdoors and the effort they put in maintaining the health and beauty of our landscape, I couldn’t help but not only admire their hard work but also I became a part of it. As someone who loves to spend time with nature’s best, I find myself learning a lot more about gardening and outdoors on a daily basis. Not to mention I love to share the knowledge I’ve gathered over the years with my readers at We Mow Dallas. To be clear, I don’t have a Master’s degree in gardening or anything like that. Everything I’ve learned about gardening, landscaping, and lawn care spring from passion and engagement with my parents. And with a ton of free information out there, plus the ability to run tests and determine what works best for lawn care and landscaping, every day is an opportunity to learn and implement something new. My goal with We Mow Dallas is to teach you exactly how to maintain your lawn and landscape. And since I walk the talk in reality, you shouldn’t hesitate to join me in this wonderful world of landscaping and lawn care. K Beatrice

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