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A Guide on how to remove an old lawn and reseed it

by Jackson White

Grass lawns make for beautiful sceneries in a home, and the fact that they are multi-functional make them more advantageous. Sometimes, though, they can get out of hand, calling for removal and reseeding to create a new one.

When a grass lawn is taken good care of, it can last a good deal of time without being affected by negative elements such as pests, diseases and thinning which results in patches. However, circumstances beyond your control may require you to replace the old turf altogether, and it can be quite a process. So, how should you go about removing and reseeding your old grass lawn?

To get rid of old grass, you can use several methods which include manual removal, chemical removal, smothering and composting and by solarization. To reseed the new bare patch, sew grass seed over it and water lightly to allow it to germinate.

Let us take a close look into the various ways in which we can remove an old grass lawn.

Methods of removing an old grass lawn before reseeding

Your chosen method of removing old grass on your lawn is largely determined by the size of lawn and the amount of time you wish to use. Each method takes a different amount of time and effort as documented in the table below.

Time taken to remove old lawn based on size of grass lawn

Removal method
Size of lawn (Acreage)
Time taken
Manual removal
0.5 acres
48 to 36 hours
Chemical removal
0.5 acres
7 to 10 days
0.5 acres
1 to 4 weeks
Smothering and composting
0.5 acres
6 to 8 weeks

As clearly indicated in the table above, each method takes a different amount of time. Even though the end result is the same, some methods prove less harmful to the environment while others go a step further and actually benefit the surrounding.

Methods of removing an old grass lawn

Manual Removal

This is probably the most strenuous of them all. While it takes the shortest time, it requires a good deal of discipline and sheer effort to get the job done. The manual method entails digging out the old grass using a shovel and flipping it upside down to allow it to compost and provide manure for the new seed. Alternatively, you can use powered equipment that makes the process a lot faster and less tedious. In place of the shovel, you can hire a rear-tine tiller capable of handling heavy work.

Have in mind that this method could expose weed seeds that had been buried deep in the soil, and you may have to use a weed killer and herbicide to ensure all seeds and remaining grass roots die out entirely.

Chemical Removal

The use of herbicide is probably the easiest, but it comes with loads of effects on you and the environment. Since the goal is to rid the entire lawn of all vegetation, you can use a non-selective weed and plant killer to get the job done. There are several types of herbicides, and the most common include concentrates and premixed chemicals. Often times, the premixed variety is easiest to use, but the concentrate proves a lot more economical, especially for expansive lawns with lots of vegetation. When using a concentrate that needs mixing, be certain to read the instructions carefully. This method may take up to 10 days, but the good thing is that it gets most, if not all, of the job done.


For this method to work effectively, you need a large supply of two things; lads of sunlight for heat and clear plastic sheets. Before spreading the plastic sheets, mow the grass using a lawn mower and leave it as short as possible. Proceed to thoroughly water it the cover every inch of the lawn with the clear plastic wrap. The clear plastic allows for the sun rays to penetrate, hastening the process of killing off the grass. With a good amount of heat, the grass will take no more than a few days to die off. This method, however, also kills off beneficial microorganisms in the soil. Once the grass is all dry, leave it in place to decompose and provide nutrients.

Smothering and Composting

This method involves killing off the grass and allowing it to decompose in place so as to add nutrients to the soil. You will need loads of organic paper such as newspaper and cardboard. Cut the grass and water it, then proceed to layer the newspaper or cardboard closely, ensuring that you leave no room for light to penetrate through. This prevents photosynthesis and causes the grass to die off and decompose.

So, after the lawn is gone, what steps should you take?

  • Remove new weeds

Seeing that weeds are opportunistic, they will be quick to grow on an open patch of soil. Ensure that there are no weeds before sowing new seed.

  • Grade the soil

Ensure that your new patch of land is well graded so that you do not end up with an uneven lawn.

  • Get rid of pests

Ensure that your new patch of soil is free of pests that could affect your new lawn once the seed germinates.

How to reseed a new patch of soil

Once the patch of land is ready, reseed using the following steps;

  • Broadcast new selected seeds

You can broadcast the seed on the soil and spread it using a hand spreader. Proceed to rake it in and then allow it time to germinate and grow.

  • Mulch using dry straw

Since the germinated grass is still quite delicate, apply mulch using dry vegetation such as dry wheat straw to keep it from being withered by the sun and other elements.

  • Water the grass

Ensure that your patch of land is moist at all times, right before sowing seed to when you have a full lush lawn. This ensures that your grass does not dry and die out at any time.

Final thoughts

Even though removing old grass and reseeding is a tough and tedious process, the results are well worth it. Ensure that your chosen method of grass removal gets rid of all weeds and pests as well to ensure that your new lawn enjoys great health from the onset. More importantly, ensure that the environment is not adversely affected so as to promote sustainability.


Can I use an opaque plastic sheet for solarization?

Yes, you can. It blocks out all forms of light and prevents photosynthesis which causes the grass to die off.

Do I need to add fertilizer into new patch of soil?

It is highly recommendable since it adds nutrients into the soil.

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