How to re-use old turf

3 min read

How to reuse old turf – 08.09.22 – When laying a new turf lawn, the first step is to remove the old vegetation. Often this means digging up and disposing of an existing lawn. So how can you reuse the leaves, roots and other debris that you’ve dug up? How do you take off old grass ready for replacement? How do you dispose of soil correctly in the UK? All of these questions and more will be answered here.

How to take off old grass

Removing your old grass effectively is important to in keeping your soil ready for future use. When re-landscaping your garden or laying new turf, the most important first step is removing the grass that’s there now. This process can be completed using several methods:  

  • Manual Digging – Old fashioned yet effective. We recommend cutting squares into the grass (around 10 x 10 inches) and digging each square out individually. 
  • Solarisation – The process involves cutting the old grass very short and then covering it with a sheet of clear plastic. This will kill off the grass and any weeds too.
  • Heavy Mulches – During warm weather, cut the old lawn as close to grade as possible and then smother the ragged turf with heavy mulches. 
Making compost

Provided it hasn’t been treated with weedkillers, old turf makes for terrific compost. To get the benefit of your lawn leftovers, simply stack the grass side down into a neat heap in a sunny corner. Try to avoid letting nettles, docks, dandelions and couch grass get into the pile. As if their roots don’t rot properly, your compost could spread unwanted plants throughout the garden.

Once you have created your pile, the grass will decompose and break down into nutrients over the next couple of years. These nutrients will soak into the soil and you’ll be able to use them for growing vegetables or filling planters in the future.

Reuse your old turf – Making a Living Roof

Living roofs are common in many countries, but you could make one yourself with your old turf? If your garden shed is sturdy and the waterproofing is in good condition, you could use your old turf to make a living green roof of your very own.

A turf roof is a commonly seen feature in many countries – but you do need a sturdy building to support one

reuse old turf


Not only will a turf roof insulate the building beautifully but its also great for wildlife. However, you need to be confident at DIY and you must learn the basics of green roofing before you start. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a collapsed shed to deal with along with your old turf. If you’re prepped and ready to get started, click through to learn the process of creating a green roof here.

Council green waste schemes

If you don’t have the space for composting your old turf, your local council probably will have.

The British government website has a directory of councils that are happy to take away and process your garden waste. Simply enter your postcode and you’ll be shown all of the contact details you need. To get there, simply click the link here.

Having your green waste taken away

The easiest but more expensive way to dispose of your old turf is to have a professional landscaper prepare the site for you and take away the debris.

This might seem a bit extravagant, but it can prove to be a good investment. If you were prepared to hire a turf cutter and a rotavator to prepare the soil yourself, then you were going to have some expenses anyway. On top of that, if you needed to hire a skip or van to take away the debris, the total cost would probably be near equivalent to hiring professional help.

Find a reputable landscaper in your area by searching the BALI website. BALI is one of the landscape industry trade bodies.

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