Removing Sod - Knowledgebase Question

Name: Jan Frazier
Griswold, IA
Avatar for dfraz
Question by dfraz
May 1, 1998
What are the various methods of removing sod in order to prepare a perenneial garden bed? I recently read such an article but can't find it again.

Answer from NGA
May 1, 1998
There are a number of methods of removing sod to prepare a perennial bed and every gardener probably has a favorite. This is a major task! Your options are pretty broad but no matter which you use, the end result is to create a planting bed rich in organic material and free of weeds which in this case includes grass.

You can remove the sod in sheets with a sod cutter or by hand with a sharp flat spade, kill it with herbicide and then rake away the dead material, turn it under repeatedly with a tiller, or smother it under a thick layer of newspaper and mulch over a period of months. Finally, you can also bury it deep beneath the future perennial bed using the time-honored method of double digging. Obviously, some of these methods are faster than others, and they all require some time and effort. (If you elect to completely remove the sod, don't throw it away! Try to recycle it either by planting it elsewhere or by composting it.)

If the sod is full of persistent perennial weeds, you may decide to use the herbicide. If your time is limited but your back is very strong, you may prefer to use the sod cutter or tiller. If the area is small enough, you may decide to do it by hand with a spade. Which ever method you select, you should run a soil test first and take the opportunity to add any needed amendments during the initial soil preparation for the perennial bed. Doing it right the first time will serve you well over the coming years!

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