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The Lawn Guide
How To Kill A Lawn
How To Kill A Lawn

Killing and Removal Of Lawns

While it may go against the very notion of lawn care, sometimes the need arises to remove or kill lawn grass from areas of our properties. This could be due to many factors including:

  • to plant a garden bed or lay paving in its place
  • home improvements
  • or to plant a more suitable variety of lawn for the location

So when the need arises, there are a few methods to consider when killing the lawn.

Dig It Up

The quickest and most effective method is to dig the lawn out, this can be done with a spade for smaller areas, or with the use of a machine such as a Dingo or Bobcat or other small digging machine for larger areas. The top 5 - 10 centimetres of the soil should be removed and replaced with clean fill suitable for its future purpose.

If the dead lawn has to be removed after being killed in another way, then it’s probably best to dig it up in the beginning and not to worry about other methods.

Poison The Lawn

How To Kill a Lawn

Poisoning with a broad spectrum herbicide may be the better choice for your situation. A herbicide known as Glyphosate is the most common method of killing lawns by poisoning for these purposes. The herbicide most commonly used is known by brand names such as Zero or Roundup, but do not feel obligated to buy these brands as there are many other brands of the same poison, and they all contain the same ingredient. Purchasing the concentrate and a cheap sprayer is far more cost effective than purchasing the pre-mixed versions.

Glyphosate will kill almost any plant it comes into contact with.
Beware of overspray, and do not spray on windy days.

Always use herbicides with care. Read and follow the manufacturers directions. This article is not advice on the use of herbicides.

Apply the herbicide to the entire lawn grass area affected. Leave it for two weeks and re-spray again. This is to ensure that any new leaf that starts emerging is able to take up the next application.

Two weeks after the second application, the area should be ready for its new purpose. If you are planning to lay mulch and new plants, another week or two to allow the herbicide to dissipate may be warranted.

Environmentally Friendly Method

This is potentially the easiest method of killing grass, and also the safest. But again it may or may not be suitable to your particular situation.

In this environmentally friendly method to kill lawns, the grass will be smothered until it’s gone for good.

Simply cover the lawn area with layers of old newspaper 5 - 10 sheets thick, then weigh the newspaper down with mulch or soil. DO NOT WATER the area in this time. In 4 - 6 weeks simply poke holes through the paper and start planting your new garden. No need to remove the newspaper, as this will naturally compost itself.

A tarpaulin could also be used for this method, but the use of two tarpaulins may give a greater result. Ensure the tarp is fully covered with soil, we need to stop the light from entering through the tarp and getting to the lawn underneath. The tarp(s) will need to removed after 4 - 6 weeks.

The method works by simultaneously removing several key ingredients vital to the life of the lawn, light, water, and oxygen.


Aggressive lawn species such as Couch will most likely need to be poisoned at least twice. Couch and some other warm season lawns have a remarkable survival mechanism that allows them to regenerate from their underground runners (Rhizomes) long after the rest of the lawn has died. So to stop this regeneration of the lawn - it’s sometimes best to apply two applications of herbicide - two to three weeks apart.

Follow Up

Keep an eye on the lawn area, and at the first signs of re-emergence of the lawn, give a quick spray with Glyphosate in the affected area only. This may need to done a couple of times until the lawn is completely dead.

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