Lawn Be Gone: Pros and Cons of Various Lawn Removal Techniques

The traditional green lawn, a staple of residential landscaping, is undergoing a reevaluation. As environmental awareness grows, many homeowners are considering removing their lawns in favor of more sustainable, diverse landscapes. This shift is driven by a range of motivations, from conserving water to creating wildlife habitats. This article explores various lawn removal techniques, each with its own set of pros and cons.

Reasons for Lawn Removal

The reasons for lawn removal are manifold. Environmental concerns top the list, with traditional lawns often requiring significant water, fertilizers, and pesticides. These practices can be harmful to the local ecosystem and unsustainable in the long term. Moreover, replacing lawns with diverse plantings can create habitats for local wildlife and contribute to biodiversity.

Method 1: Manual Removal

The most straightforward method of lawn removal is manual labor. This involves using tools like shovels and sod cutters, which we used for the Lucas House garden, to physically remove the grass.


  • Total control over the removal process.
  • Avoids the use of chemicals, making it an environmentally friendly option.


  • Highly labor-intensive and can be physically demanding.
  • Time-consuming, particularly for larger lawns.
  • May not remove all grass roots, leading to potential regrowth.

Method 2: Solarization

Solarization involves covering the lawn with clear plastic sheets, which trap heat from the sun and effectively “cook” the grass underneath.


  • Chemical-free and environmentally safe.
  • Also kills weed seeds and certain soil pathogens.


  • Depends on consistent, hot sunny weather to be effective.
  • The process can take several weeks or even months.
  • Clear plastic can be unsightly and may not be suitable for all neighbourhoods.
  • Introduces more plastic into the environment.

Method 3: Sheet Mulching

Sheet mulching, or lasagna gardening, involves laying down cardboard or newspaper over the lawn and then covering it with a thick layer of mulch. We used this for a small part of the Lucas House garden that had persistent growth of Lily of the Valley.


  • Suppresses grass and weeds effectively.
  • Adds organic matter to the soil, improving its quality.
  • Relatively easy to implement and suitable for large areas.


  • Can take months for the grass to fully decompose.
  • Requires a significant amount of mulch, which can be costly.

Method 4: Herbicide Use

For quick results, some homeowners opt for chemical herbicides to kill off their lawns. However, pesticides such as those containing glyphosate (Round-Up) are illegal in Canada for cosmetic use. We do not use herbicides at Grounded.


  • Fast and highly effective at killing grass.
  • Requires less physical labour.


  • Environmental and health concerns related to chemical usage.
  • Risk of harming non-target plants and wildlife.
  • Not suitable for those seeking an organic or eco-friendly approach.
  • Some pesticides illegal for cosmetic use.

Removing a lawn can be a significant step toward creating a more sustainable and ecologically friendly landscape. Each method of lawn removal has its advantages and drawbacks, and the best choice depends on individual circumstances, such as lawn size, physical ability, environmental concerns, and time constraints. By considering these factors, homeowners can effectively choose the most suitable method for their needs, making a positive impact on the environment while transforming their outdoor space.