Artisinal Turf Removal
Digging up lawn is one of my favorite gardening chores. Just now I’ve been engaging in this chore because the city removed a dying parkway maple on what I refer to as our garden’s Left Bank, thus creating a new sunny area. (The Left Bank is the other side of the driveway.)
Several books contain advice on how to remove lawn, and I’ve tried a number of the recommended approaches.
I’ve done the smothering with newspaper thing. This works OK, except that you get bits of newspaper blowing around or sticking up through the mulch, unexpectedly reminding you of some headline you would have preferred to forget about. I also once hired someone (at another home) to use a sod cutting machine.
What I really like, though, is what I call Artisinal Turf Removal. This involves taking a long handled edging tool, outlining your new bed and border, and then cutting out the turf bit by bit.
Sure, Artisinal Turf Removal is labor-intensive and time consuming. However, it has several advantages. You don’t have to wait a year for the grass to be smothered, or pay someone to use a loud, scary machine.
When I practice Artisinal Turf Removal, I cut the turf into long strips about 10″ wide, then cut those strips into squares that I think of as soil brownies. I pick up each square and shake the soil lose, then throw the turf into my wheelbarrow.
This enables me attain a very intimate familiarity with the soil of my new bed, in this case a black loam with lots of worms and few grubs. This is a little surprising given that it has grown nothing but lawn for lo these many years, and has been fed nothing but grass clippings for all that time.
There are a few tricks to Artisinal Turf Removal. For example, this is not an activity where you would want to wear anything that shouldn’t get absolutely caked with soil.
Today I finished digging up the turf for this new bed, which was very satisfying indeed. I left some grass along the curb so that people can get out of their cars, something I neglected to do on my other parkway bed. I also left a strip of turf as a pathway through.
Now I can’t wait for my new plants to arrive in the mail.
Do you have a preferred method for removing lawn?