How to Easily Remove Grass for a New Garden

Are you dreaming of designing a new garden next spring? Taking steps in fall to remove grass and weeds will give your soil time to recover and get healthy over winter before you start a new garden in spring. You can save yourself a lot of work by “smothering” your grass—it’s easy, effective, and you don’t need to dig up your existing lawn!


Before you get started clearing a spot for a garden, be sure you choose the best spot. Most flowers and vegetables require 6-8 hours of sunlight a day, so be sure to choose a sunny spot. You also want to be sure your soil drains well. If it’s soggy, or if water pools there, choose another location.

How to Remove Grass and Weeds for a Garden

  • Once you’ve defined the space for your garden bed, clear out any rocks and debris.
  • Remove any deep-rooted weeds and mow grass low, leaving any grass clippings.
  • Water the area right away – moisture helps the decomposition process. If you live in a warmer climate, you can spray some Biological Dethatcher, which contains beneficial bacteria and enzymes which will help things decompose faster. You can also apply soil amendments now, such as Lime/Calcium, Iron, or Micronutrients. Since you’re applying these for a future garden, it doesn’t matter if your grass is dormant–burning the grass will only help it decompose faster!
  • Cover the area with unwaxed cardboard, brown paper bags, or 8-10 sheets of newspaper (black ink only). Overlap the edges by at least 6 inches to keep weeds from growing through.
  • Wet the cardboard/newspaper thoroughly to help it break down.
  • Next add a thick layer of organic matter such as compost or leaf mulch 2-3 inches thick to hold down the cardboard.
  • Finally, add about 3-4 inches of wood chips for insulation and to slow down evaporation. Be careful not to mix the layers.

Patience is key! The longer you allow the decomposition process to occur, the better your results. Keep the area moist by watering it as needed (feel free to continue to apply Biological Dethatcher as long as outdoor temperatures stay over 45°F). Over the next few months, the organic material will decay and you’ll have nutrient-rich soil ideal for planting!