I am no novice to the noble act of sodbusting. I’ve broken shovels, pulled muscles, gained blisters. I can wield a shovel and make sod quake in its roots at the mere thought of what will happen when I rain my vengeance down upon it…
Wait. That last part morphed into a kinda scary yet cool Pulp Fiction/Victory Garden mashup. Never mind.
Back to getting rid of sod. As I noted above — I am perfectly capable of digging sod. But I hate it. If there’s one garden task I hate, it’s sodbusting. I’d rather spend my time planting something, harvesting something, or eating something from the garden. So this is how we get rid of sod around here — and more of it seems to disappear every year.
The Easiest Way to Remove Sod
The first thing you need is patience, grasshopper. While you can, with some work, use this lazy method and still plant right away, it’s really more of a pain than it’s worth. I’ll tell you how, but I’ll leave it to someone more motivated than I am to do it.
You’ll need a few things for this job:
**A spade or edger
**Lots of newspaper. More than you’ll think you need for your designated area. We’re going to lay it on thick.
**Lots of mulch. At least a four-inch layer (here’s how to figure out how much mulch you’ll need.)
What to do:
*Determine the amount of sod you want to remove. You can lay out your edges with strings and sticks, or measure carefully if that’s your thing. I kind of tend to eye things and adjust my beds later, but whatever works for you is fine.
*Cut the grass you’re planning to remove as short as possible. Scalp it, if you can.
*Use your spade or edger to cut a clean line all the way around the designated area. You don’t need to dig here — we’re just marking the edge of the bed and cutting off any running grass roots into our soon-to-be garden bed.
*Start laying down your newspaper. THICK. I typically lay down entire sections at a time.
*Wet it down with water from the hose. This just keeps it from blowing away while you’re putting down your mulch.
*Mulch it. THICK. Three to four inches, remember?
That’s it. Wait a year, and there will be no grass in the area. You can pull back the mulch (the newspaper will have broken down by then) and go ahead and plant.
Now, if you want to plant right away, you impatient perfectionists, you can do all of the steps up to the newspaper one, above. Then, dig holes for your plants, and plant. Then add your newspaper, placing it as close to the crown of the plants as possible without actually touching. Wet down, add mulch (you’ll have to add it less thickly near the plants, especially if they’re small) and you’re good.
There you have it. I admire anyone who has the stamina to dig out sod by hand. Having done plenty of it myself, I appreciate the work that goes into it. Which is exactly why I don’t do it anymore I hope these tips help you out the next time you need to get rid of some sod.
About the photo: That, my dears, is my hell strip, complete with bright red fire hydrant. To make the bright red fire hydrant seem slightly less prominent, this bed will be planted with annuals next spring. That way if they get trampled by firemen or something, I won’t cry.