How to Kill Grass

Most people with natural grass lawns spend their time and money keeping them alive, but there are some instances where you might need to kill grass instead. If you find yourself in this situation, there a 7 easy ways to kill grass. We cover them and reasons you may need to remove grass below.

  1. Commercial herbicides
  2. The shovel method
  3. Vinegar
  4. Boiling water
  5. Salt
  6. Solarization
  7. Layering

Here are five of the most common reasons for killing grass in Southern California:

1. Your grass is a real creep.

Creeping grass varieties spread through underground rhizomes and aboveground stolons, and, if not effectively held in place by landscaping borders or hardscapes, they may creep into areas where you never intended to have a lawn. When this occurs, you may need to kill the grass to keep it from spreading.

2. You want to spend less time on yard care.

At some point, most natural grass lawn owners grow tired of the constant mowing, weeding, edging, fertilizing, aerating, and watering. When they reach this point, they usually either hire a company to care for their lawn, or they reduce it or remove it and replace it with low-maintenance landscaping options.

killing grass

3. You need to conserve water.

More than 50% of outdoor water usage goes to watering lawns. This means that anyone who wants to lower their water bill or reduce their home’s environmental impact can easily accomplish both of these goals in one step: removing their lawns.

4. You need space to start or expand your vegetable garden.

Growing food plants is a great way to know where your food is coming from and how it is grown while also teaching your kids about caring for food plants all the way from planting seeds to harvesting. If you plan on growing very much food in your backyard or front yard, you are going to need some space. Removing your natural grass lawn is the perfect way to increase the space you have available for growing food for your family.

5. You want a lawn, just not a water-wasting, time-consuming, natural grass lawn.

You still want a green, lush lawn for your kids to play on, your dogs to nap on and for that all-important curb appeal, but you are over it when it comes to the maintenance and irrigation requirements. Plus, it gets brown spots, needs to be reseeded, and just takes a lot of effort to keep it looking healthy and inviting. So, when you are ready to replace it with low-maintenance synthetic turf, you are going to need to find out how to kill grass so you can make the switch.

kill grass with herbicide

7 Ways to Kill Grass

1. Commercial Herbicides:

When possible, it is always better to use natural options for all of your landscaping tasks, but commercial herbicides that contain potentially harmful chemicals are quite effective and should at least be on this list. If you choose this method, wear long sleeves, gloves and eye protection to limit exposure. You should also pick a day with no wind and no rain in the forecast.

2. The Shovel Method:

If you don’t mind a bit of hard labor, you can manually remove your grass by digging it up. Stop watering your lawn so that it will turn brown and die. Once it is dead, grab a shovel – and hopefully some friends – and start excavating. Make sure you know where your irrigation lines are to avoid adding irrigation repairs to your chore list. Even if you use other methods on this list, you may need to use some sort of excavation process to remove your dead lawn if you cannot simply let it compost in place.

3. Vinegar

Vinegar is a good choice for folks looking for an inexpensive, natural method for killing grass. You can simply spray your lawn with vinegar and wait for it to die. For the best chance of success, choose a day with no wind and no rain in the forecast. Hotter temperatures help with this process, so choose the hottest day possible for your vinegar application. You may need to spray your lawn again every few days until all of the grass is dead. The thing to remember when working with vinegar is that it is an indiscriminate killer, which means you must keep it away from any plants you want to keep.

4. Boiling Water:

Pouring boiling water over grass, weeds or unwanted plants is an inexpensive way to kill them, but it is not the easiest method. First, you have to be very careful not to spill any of the boiling water on your skin while carrying it from the kitchen to your lawn. Second, unless you are only trying to figure out how to kill grass in a tiny area, it is going to take a lot of trips back and forth to the kitchen and a lot of time waiting for pots of water to boil.

5. Salt:

Salt is an easy, natural way to kill weeds, grass or any unwanted plants. Like vinegar, salt is an indiscriminate killer, so you will need to be careful when applying it to your lawn. You can either sprinkle it all over your lawn, and then water your lawn to get the salt down into the soil, or you can mix salt and water in a garden sprayer and spray your lawn. Either way, you will need to keep the salt away from flowerbeds or any wanted plants. You should only use salt in areas where you never want anything to grow again. While soil can recover from the introduction of salt over time, you are going to need some serious patience to wait around for this to happen.

6. Solarization:

Mow your lawn, cover it with black plastic sheeting and let the sun do the rest. Killing grass with solarization can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, but it is an effective and inexpensive option.

7. Layering:

If you have access to a lot of newspaper or cardboard, layering is an effective method for killing grass and improving the soil for whatever you might want to grow in that area once your lawn is gone. All you need to do is mow your lawn, add multiple layers of newspaper or cardboard (or both), wet it down, and then cover it with a layer of mulch. This method usually takes about two months to kill the grass, but the layer of mulch will make the area less of an eyesore during the process.