Once you’ve cut out your old sod there are several ways to get rid of or recycle it easily. The best ways to remove old sod are:
- Use it for compost
- Fix low spots in your yard
- Create a base for a garden/flower bed
- Relocate the sod to another area of the yard
- Give your sod away
- Throw out your sod as you would other green waste
- Eliminate the need for sod disposal by removing your lawn a different way
Sod can be recycled to improve your lawn and garden, or to help a neighbor. We recommend trying natural solutions before resorting to throwing out cut sod.
7 Methods to Remove Old Sod
Once you’ve used a sod cutter to remove old sod from your yard, you’ll soon realize you’re left with a lot of heavy sod that takes up a lot of space and isn’t easy to dispose of. The first question that comes to mind is, how to get rid of old sod? The truth is, there are a number of ways to do so, and many can be beneficial to your lawn.
Make Sod Compost
Sod makes excellent compost, either as an additive to an established compost pile or by creating a sod compost pile.
To make a sod compost pile, follow these steps:
- Choose a secluded spot in your yard or garden.
- Lay down a cardboard or wood base.
- Pile sod, grass-side down on the base.
- Wet each layer of sod as you build your pile.
- Spread high-nitrogen fertilizer on each layer of sod, to speed up decomposition.
- Cover finished pile with black plastic.
- Weigh down plastic to keep out light and air.
- Allow 6 months for sod to decompose into rich compost fertilizer.
Using this method, you can turn unwanted sod into a natural fertilizer that can be spread on your lawn and garden, essentially recycling old grass into plant food.
Fix Low Spots
Do you have boggy low spots in your lawn or garden? These areas can flood, as well as breed insects and plant diseases. Old sod can be the perfect thing to level out any problem areas in your yard.
Simply lay the sod, grass-down in the low area to build it up. The grass roots will keep this filler in place as the grass decays and the soil settles. Cutting out old sod is a great opportunity for improving your lawn.
Create a Garden Base
Use old sod to build up a garden or flower bed. To do so, follow these simple steps:
- Pile the sod grass-down in your new garden until it reaches the desired height.
- Cover with 2–3 inches of topsoil.
- Add 3–4 inches of mulch.
You can use old sod in this way to increase garden height for better drainage, or even build a tall raised bed. The sod will slowly decompose into rich soil, feeding the plants in your garden. It’s a great way to remove an ugly pile of sod and make use of it.
What yard doesn’t have a few places with weak, patchy, or straggling sections of grass? Once you cut old sod, you can re-use it in other places to improve your overall lawn health.
For instance, if you’ve removed some sod in your backyard to make room for a garden or patio, consider relocating some of that sod to the front yard in places where the grass is yellowed, patchy, or thin.
Just make sure to keep any sod you want to relocate moist.You have the best chance of the sod surviving relocation if it is moved, placed, and watered within 24 hours.
Advertise Free Sod
Services like Craigslist and Nextdoor allow you to easily advertise to the people in your community that you have unwanted sod. One person’s old grass is another person’s treasure. You may have a neighbor who could use some sod in their yard.
Advertising you have free sod for pickup is perhaps the easiest way to get rid of old sod. You can give your old grass away to an enterprising homeowner or composter and won’t have to worry about the back-breaking work of moving mounds of old sod by hand.
Dispose of Sod as Green Waste
If you truly have no other options, you can dispose of your old sod as green waste. Follow your local guidelines for green waste disposal to get rid of the old grass.
In order to make sod lighter and easier to dispose of, shake the pieces of sod to remove as much soil as possible. If you do this, you’ll be able to get rid of more sod at once without overloading any trash bins.
Consider Alternative Lawn Removal Methods
It’s important to remove sod if you are laying new sod or pouring concrete in the area where the old grass once grew. However, you may not need to cut old sod in all cases.
If you are planning to transform your yard with grass-free landscaping, or you want to plant a garden where grass is currently growing, you don’t have to cut sod. Here are other methods to kill grass without cutting sod:
- Spray grass with a glyphosate based non-selective plant killer
- Solarize grass by covering it with clear plastic
- Till your lawn to kill existing grass
It may be easier to avoid dealing with piles of cut sod by using one of the methods above. You won’t have to buy or rent a machine to remove old sod and you’ll save yourself some work in the long run.
How Deep Should You Cut Sod When Removing?
The best tool for sod removal is a motorized sod cutter. When used correctly, a sod cutter will remove ¾–1 inch (2–2.5 cm) of topsoil along with the grass. This will effectively remove grass and enough root material that new sod or concrete can be laid in its place.
Do You Have to Get Rid of Old Sod Before Laying New Sod?
It is essential that you remove existing grass before laying new sod. Laying new sod on top of an established yard will result in the following:
- New sod will not take root and may die.
- Old grass and weeds will invade new sod.
- New sod will raise the level of your yard about 1 inch, resulting in poor drainage and flooding on paved areas (driveways, patios, sidewalks, etc.)
Make sure you fully remove your existing lawn before laying new sod to ensure you end up with a pristine new lawn.
How Long for Buried Sod to Decompose
Sod decomposition rates depend on how the sod is disposed of. The common methods of sod disposal and their rates of decomposition are:
- Composted sod: 6 months
- Buried and tilled sod: 6 months
- Buried sod (whole pieces): 12 months
The moist setting of a compost pile will accelerate sod decomposition, resulting in sod breaking down faster. If you bury sod in sheets or pieces, whether in a garden or in low spots, it may take up to 12 months to decompose. To speed up sod decomposition, till buried sod to break it up. The smaller pieces will turn to fertilizer much faster.
How to Remove Old Sod
No one wants a pile of old sod laying around in their new yard. In order to get rid of old sod, compost it, use it to build up gardens and low spots, relocate it, give it away, or dispose of it as you would other green waste.
Alternatively, if you don’t have to cut out your old grass to complete your lawn project, consider killing your old grass with herbicides, solarization, or tilling. While old sod can make an incredible fertilizer or be used to revitalize other portions of your yard, it’s sometimes easier to avoid cutting sod in the first place.