Steps to replacing grass in yard with another groundcover

Asked June 21, 2017, 3:51 PM EDT

My husband and I deliberately killed the grass and weeds in our yard with a glyosphate-based plant killer. It has been about two weeks and the yard is now the yellow/tan color of dried plant matter. We are wondering about the best way to proceed. Should we rototill? I am imagining a having to rake up and remove a lot of sod clumps. Or should we use a tool (I believe it's called a sod cutter) that slices through the sod sideways. I guess we'd have a bunch of sod to collect that way, as well. We plan to plant sedum after the ground is prepared. thanks for your response.

Ramsey County Minnesota

2 Responses

Thank you for the question. We don't recommend using a sod cutter now that the turf and weeds are dead because some topsoil will be removed and the sod may just fall apart as it is starting to decompose or compost. The best thing to do is rototill the dead sod back into the soil because it will add important amendments as it decomposes. You are right in assuming that you will have to level the soil surface after tilling and will create a pile of large clods that will interfere with new plant establishment and take a long time to break down. These can be put into your compost pile. Most of the dead sod will remain behind, tilled in and benefiting your soil. The other reason to rototill is for the soil loosening effect. This is important for new plant or seed establishment.
One of the drawbacks of tilling is that new weed seeds will be brought to the surface to germinate so you will have to be vigilant in pulling out new weeds while the new groundcover establishes.

Thank you for contacting Extension.

Thank you for your detailed and helpful response.