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How to Remove Grass with A Shovel Without Breaking Your Back

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A few seasons earlier, we had a new neighbor who wanted to make extensive alterations to his garden. They wanted to be able to remove all the grass growing to lay down a new garden and utilize one part of the garden to make kennels for their two adorable doggies. Fair enough, but a lawn as vast as that!

Removing grass or sod is almost always the first mandatory step when preparing for newer plant beds or constructions. This was the first time we witnessed how to remove grass with a shovel and were we thrilled!

What This Tutorial Is About?

In-depth research led us to various techniques to do it. For removing grass, we could use:

  • Manual removal of grass with a shovel
  • Employ a gardening machine such as a tiller
  • An electric or a fuel-powered grass cutter
  • Power rake
  • Herbicides

Let us tell you what you must do to remove grass from your garden area manually

Before you zero in on the method that will or will not work for you – analyze the kind of grass that you will have to deal with. Some of the varieties of grass have profound roots.

An example is that of perennial rye. If the roots are deep, you must make sure to kill them with an alternate method like using herbicide; otherwise, the grass will grow back again. Love’s labor lost! Yes, that’s right!!

Grasses such as Zoysia or Bermuda with shorter, shallower roots will not pose too much trouble. Thank goodness!

Things That You Will Need

In-depth research led us to various techniques to do it. For removing grass, we could use:

  • Water pipe and spraying hose
  • Water source
  • Shovel
  • Spade
  • Edger
  • Pitchfork
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Truck trailer
  • Pallets
  • Garden gloves

How to Remove Grass with A Shovel – Step by Step Tutorial

Step 1: Water the Grass That You Want to Remove

Water the Grass That You Want to Remove - How to Remove Grass with A Shovel
via Pixabay

The first step is always to water the grass that you want to remove. The logic behind this is that when you add moisture to the grass, it will be easier to work with a shovel and a spade. The soil becomes clumpy and is easy to cut through.

When Is the Right Time To Water The Grass?

Ideally, the best time to water it is a few days (3 – 4) days before you want to cut it. A heavy shower before the days that you intend to cut can also be god sent, and you could take the opportunity to clear your lawn.

There Is One Pitfall, However

If you happen to overwater the lawn, the soil can become excessively muddy and difficult to work with a shovel manually. The best advice that we can give you is to stop watering when you think it is enough to make wedges with a shovel.

Pro tip: test the soil by wedging in a shovel and wriggling in the right under till you reach its roots. If the shovel comes back clear, the soil is still dry, and you must water it more.

If clumps of soil stick to the shovel, it is adequately moist, and you could stop watering more. You could even do a touch test of the soil to gauge its dampness or dryness.

Step 2: Use the Shovel to Break Through The Top Layer Of The Grass

If a shovel is not enough, you could twin it with a spade and break the top layer of the soil with the grass. The rest will come out quickly without even digging too deep or digging out the roots.

break top Layer Of The Grass - How to Remove Grass with A Shovel

Once you can cut the grass with the roots, you could load them in the waiting pallets or a trailer and get them taken at recycling yards..

Did you intend to reuse the sod elsewhere?

If sod could be cut neatly using an edger machine, you can get almost three feet long and one-foot wide carpet like strips that you could use as a natural décor inside the house or outside in the foyer.

Once you cut the sod in longer strips, all you need is to roll them up as you do to carpets. The sod is going to be relatively too heavy for you to manage to do all the cutting and lifting by yourself.

wheelbarrow grass - How to Remove Grass with A Shovel
via Pixabay

You could do with additional hands that will help you not just with rolling them up but also with heaving them on to your wheelbarrow or trailer trucks.

Be wary of doing everything on your own. It is a physically exhausting job, and it can take a toll on your back. Insist on having a hand or two to be able to tackle the work quicker and in an efficient manner.

Step 3: Make A Checkboard Pattern on Your Lawn with A Shovel or An Edger

If you want to cut smaller pieces of sod for ease of collecting them and piling them up for disposal, go for the checkboard pattern making blocks of 1 foot by 1 foot with an edger or a hand tool.

Now pry up the squares using a spade or a pitchfork. It is easy to pull up the squares and even accumulate them at one spot and then be driven to the yard.

Step 4: Remove All the Excess Soil Sticking to The Grass


Break the clumpy soil on the grass sods using a shovel or your bare hands. Do this if you want to make the cleaning easier because uneven sod with clumps sticking to it will make rolling them up a herculean job with all the weight and being rough.

There you are! That is how you remove the grass manually with a shovel and other helpful tools. If you think this tutorial was enlightening and will work fo