The Grounds Guys
Grass sod in wheelbarrow

How to Remove Sod

Digging up sod and moving it elsewhere produces quick, clean results and prevents your healthy lawn from going to waste. Here’s the best way to remove sod without damaging it.

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 cannot transplant the sod immediately, 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.

Get Professional Assistance

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.

The professionals at The Grounds Guys can help. We have experience in both removing and laying sod. Contact us to learn how we can assist you.