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Replacing Your Lawn With Native Plants

The first step in replacing your lawn can be a challenging one. You need to KILL YOUR LAWN.

Why should you ‘Kill Your Lawn’ ? By removing some or all of your turf you will:

  • Reduce water use dramatically
  • Reduce or eliminate fertilizer and associated polluted runoff
  • Eliminate weekly maintenance labor and expense
  • Free up square footage for more attractive and beneficial native plants!


Step 1: Identify the type of turf you have

  • Cool season grass: Fescue, Marathon, Bluegrass and grass blends that stay green in the winter
  • Warm season grass: Bermuda, St Augustine, Zoyzia and any rhizomatous grass that is brown in winter

Step 2: Determine a strategy for removal based upon these factors

  • Grass type
  • Season of removal
  • Timeline

Step 3: Kill your lawn!

COOL SEASON GRASSES: Hard To Grow, Easy To Kill, Quick To Replace

  • Smother with mulch, no plastic
  • Strip and flip using a sod-cutting machine, mark and avoid sprinkler heads that may be retrofitted for the new garden.
  • Rototill, only if no rhizomatous weedy grasses are present
  • Herbicide- typically not necessary with cool season grasses

WARM SEASON GRASSES: Easy To Grow, Hard To Kill, Slow To Replace – DO NOT ROTOTILL

  • Hand removal by weeding, digging out roots (difficult)
  • Herbicide- controversial but effective, each gardener needs to make their own cost/benefit analysis of this method


  • Glyphosate-based herbicides (Roundup, Rodeo, others) low toxicity, short residual
  • Non-selective herbicide, tailor application method to site conditions to avoid damage to desirable plants
  • Seasonal- most effective and fastest when plants are metabolically active, warm season for these grasses
  • Exhaust stored food reserves in their extensive root systems by repeated cycles: water, grow, spray, kill.
  • Dormancy resembles death. Premature planting of your new garden will mean years of follow-up hand pulling. Patience and diligence are required to eliminate these types of grasses.