The Q&A Archives: Grass Removal

Question: I live near the beach in So Cal. with clay soil. I have dead sod and would like to go to a native/drought resistant landcape with pathways. Is it best to rototill to remove the sod? Will the layer of plastic netting damage the rototiller? How do I prepare the soil for cactus, succulants and pathways? What types of groundcover plants would work with these plants? Any tips? Thanks! Michelle

Answer: I don't know whether a sod cutter or a rototiller would be the best route. A sod cutter will actually cut below the roots and scrape over the top of the soil. You should be able to simply roll up the sod and dispose of it. A rototiller will go through the netting and the sod without problem, but then you'll need to rake the old grass and roots out, then level the soil in preparation for planting.

After removing the sod - whichever way - you can mark out your pathways, spread a sand base if you are using pavers, or simply roll out some weed block fabric and cover it with decomposed granite or other pathway material. Cactus and succulents will grow in your naturally sandy soil without amendments. Choose plants that are labeled drought tolerant and/or native plants and you'll have a nearly maintenance free landscape. Enjoy!

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