How to Kill a Lawn Grass and Start Over form Scratch?

As a gardening expert, I understand the difficult decision of killing a lawn and starting anew. Several factors, such as harsh weather conditions, pests, and lawn diseases, can lead to an unhealthy, unattractive property. 

In this useful guide, I will discuss common reasons for lawn replacement, the benefits of starting over, and advice on assessing your lawn’s current state. I will also provide a step-by-step process for killing a lawn and starting over, preparing the soil, selecting a suitable grass type, and caring for your new lawn.

Should I Kill My Lawn And Start Over?

Yes, there are some common reasons to replace a lawn, see the following: 

  1. Poor Soil Quality – If your property suffers from poor soil quality, it can adversely affect the growth and overall health of the grass. Factors like soil compaction, low nutrient levels, or improper pH balance can lead to an unhealthy and unattractive lawn.
  2. Weather Conditions – Drastic weather conditions such as drought, floods, or prolonged periods of high temperatures can damage your lawn beyond repair.
  3. Pests and Disease – Pests such as grubs or diseases like fungus can cause significant damage to your yard, and at times the infestation or spread can be so severe that it warrants a total lawn replacement.
  4. Patches of Dead Grass: If you have patches of turf that are dead or dying, it’s time to start over. These areas can prevent proper water and nutrient absorption from occurring. 

Benefits of Killing Your Lawn And Starting Over

  • Improved soil quality: Removing all existing vegetation and taking the opportunity to amend the soil can enhance the quality of soil, better drainage, and reduce soil compaction problems.
  • Increased visual appeal: A fresh, lush lawn can significantly boost the beauty of your outdoor space.
  • Robust grass: By introducing new, improved grass types, your yard will be more resistant to pests, diseases, and poor weather conditions.

Evaluating Your Lawn

To determine whether your lawn requires replacement, inspect its overall health. Consider completely renovating your lawn in the following situations:

  • When weeds extensively overrun your yard.
  • If more than 50% of your lawn is covered by brown or dead grass or if there are significant bare patches.
  • Upon observing poor soil structure or inadequate drainage on your property.

How to Kill a Lawn Grass and Start Over form Scratch? Four Best Methods

If you want to revamp your outdoor space, killing your lawn and starting over could be a great option. But how to kill grass and start over? 

Depending on the size of your lawn, there are four primary approaches to eradicating grass and weeds from your property. Each method requires varying levels of expense, time, and effort.

Using Weed Killer

The most convenient, fastest, and most effective method to eliminate your lawn is by applying glyphosate-based herbicides, such as Bonide Kleenup Weed Killer Concentrate. It should be diluted with water before use, although ready-to-use options are also available.

It is crucial to note that although glyphosate has been subject to scrutiny regarding potential toxicity, a recent review conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has concluded that there are “no risks of consideration to human health when glyphosate is used by its current label.”

If you are comfortable using conventional herbicides, this option typically takes 10 to 14 days to complete elimination. Before reseeding or laying sod, remove as many dead weeds and grass as possible using a bow rake or leaf rake.

One word of caution: Avoid using “extended control” versions of weed and grass killers, as they contain additional chemicals that can leave residues in the soil for up to four months, preventing growth, including the seeds you sow or the sod you lay.


You can use horticultural vinegar, such as Green Gobbler, for an organic chemical control approach. Unlike the 5 percent household vinegar used in the kitchen, horticultural vinegar usually contains 10 to 20 percent acetic acid. 

Acetic acid effectively “burns” away the weeds, so wearing quality gloves and other protective gear is advisable to avoid skin contact. These products are ready to use without any additional preparation. However, it is worth noting that horticultural vinegar can be expensive.

Solarization [Using Plastic]

If you prefer an utterly chemical-free method, consider covering your lawn with heavy-duty black plastic.

Begin by setting your mower to the lowest setting possible. Scalp your lawn, remove as much grass and weeds as possible, and immediately cover the yard with plastic. Secure the edges with sod staples, boards, bricks, or other heavy objects to prevent the plastic from blowing away. 

Depending on the time of year, you must leave the lawn covered for six to eight weeks to allow the sun’s heat and lack of rain to do the rest. Once the grass is dead, remove the plastic and the finished material beneath it, and prepare the area for seeding or sodding.

This method is time-consuming and requires some preparation, but it is effective if you have the time and patience to complete the process. Unfortunately, plastic sheeting cannot be recycled, so if you cannot repurpose it, you must dispose of it with regular trash.

Manually Remove It

The final option is to manually remove the existing grass and weeds by hand or rent a sod cutter (approximately $125 per day). 

Once you have removed the vegetation, you must dispose of the yard debris. Most sanitation companies offer hauling services for a fee.

After completing the labor-intensive work, regrade the surface using a heavy-duty landscape rake, such as the Midwest Aluminum Landscape Rake, or a lawn leveler, such as the quality Golf Levelawn. Finally, prepare the area for seeding or sodding.

Guide to Start Over Your Lawn

  1. Kill the existing lawn: Apply a non-selective herbicide to the existing lawn. Such as I discussed above:
  2. Remove the dead grass: After a few days, the herbicide will take effect, and you can remove the dead grass using a rake or a sod cutter.
  3. Improve the soil: Till it to a depth of 6-8 inches and amend it with organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure. This will improve drainage and provide valuable nutrients to the new grass.
  4. Level the ground: Ensure a smooth lawn surface by grading and leveling the soil. This will help with proper drainage and reduce the risk of future problems.
  5. Choose the suitable grass: Research the best grass types for your soil and climate before planting. Look for drought-resistant, pest-resistant, and disease-resistant varieties that require less water, fertilizer, and chemicals.
  6. Planting the new lawn: You can either sow grass seed, lay sod, or install plugs, depending on your budget and desired timeline. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper planting techniques and timings.
  7. Caring for the new lawn: Regularly water the new lawn deeply and infrequently to encourage deep root growth. Mow at the suggested height for your grass type to keep it healthy and reduce weed competition.

Frequently Asked Question

What are effective methods for permanently eliminating grass?

Like Clorox, chlorine bleach can permanently kill grass and other organisms in the soil, making it an unsafe option if you intend to start anew.

Bleach breaks down into salt, depleting the soil of vital nutrients and microbes long after application, which is detrimental to grass and other plants in the affected area. However, the most recommended approach for starting over is to burn the grass and adequately prepare the soil.

How long should you wait to water the lawn after grass elimination?

After applying the weed killer, waiting at least 24 hours before watering the lawn is advisable. Additionally, it is vital to ensure deep and consistent yard watering within seven days of herbicide application to achieve optimal results.

Can grass regrow after using Roundup?

Following the application of Roundup, it is not possible for grass or any other plant to regenerate new growth. This herbicide penetrates the turf down to the roots and inhibits the synthesis of amino acids in the plants. Consequently, the plant dies and will not recover.


Starting a new lawn can be arduous, but with the proper preparation and tools, creating a beautiful oasis, even in challenging landscapes, is possible. 

Whether you choose to burn and prepare the soil, use chemical or organic control herbicides, or manually remove existing vegetation, there are multiple options available for your project. 

Remember to research and follow the instructions carefully to ensure good results. You can look forward to a healthy lawn with proper care and maintenance for many years. 

Finally, it is essential to remember that grass elimination is a process that requires time, patience, and understanding. If done correctly with the proper techniques, you will enjoy a beautiful lawn in no time.

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