How to Remove Sod (And Reuse It)

wheelbarrow full of sod

If you’re planning to put in a flower bed this spring, you need to make room for it by removing some of your existing turf. It’s a shame to kill perfectly good grass. Luckily, there’s another option—dig up the sod and move it somewhere else on your property. This method produces quick, clean results and allows you to set up your garden bed immediately. Plus, it prevents your healthy lawn from going to waste. Here’s the best way to remove sod without damaging it so you can transplant it elsewhere.

Tools Needed to Remove Sod

Before you begin, make sure you have the following gardening tools on hand:

  • Hose or sprinkler
  • Sharp spade, shovel or, edger
  • Spade or pitchfork

How Do You Remove Sod?

Here are the proper techniques to use when removing sod:

  • Water the grass: A few days before you plan to dig up the sod, water the area thoroughly to make the soil easier to work with. After drying out for a few days, you end up with moist—not soggy—soil, so it sticks together but isn’t too heavy.
  • Cut into the sod: Using a sharp spade, shovel, or edger, cut around the perimeter of the grass you plan to remove. Then, cut the sod into one-foot by two-foot strips or one-foot-square pieces. You only need to break through the top layer of soil, so don’t worry about digging very deep.
  • Pry up the sod: Dig under one end of each piece of sod, and shove a spade or pitchfork under it to cut through deep taproots. Lift out the pre-cut piece and shake any loose soil back onto the ground.
  • Roll up the sod: If your pieces are long enough, roll them up like carpeting. If you opted for square pieces, stack them near the place where you plan to transplant the sod.

Caring for Sod Before Laying It

If you are unable to transplant the sod immediately, be aware that you have up to five days to lay it before the grass dies, depending on the time of year and weather conditions. In mid-summer, actively growing sod can begin showing signs of stress in as little as 12 hours. For this reason, you may want to prepare the transplant location for sod before digging it out of the ground.

If dug-up sod must sit out for more than a day, remember that moisture is the key to its survival. Set the squares or strips of sod in a shady spot where the sun can’t dry them out. If several hours go by, unroll the sod so you can water it. This also allows heat to escape so the grass doesn’t die until you can complete the transplant.

Professional Sod & Lawn Care from The Grounds Guys®

Now that you know how to remove sod, you may be eager to get started. Keep in mind that sod is very heavy, and you will probably need help from another person for this job. In fact, for your own safety, we recommend leaving large sod removal projects to a professional.

If you need help re-sodding your lawn, the professionals at The Grounds Guys can help. We have experience removing sod, laying new sod, and performing any other lawn maintenance tasks you might need. Contact us to find out more about caring for your landscape. Got dirty shoes after attempting this yourself? 

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