Lawn Replacement Instructions - A Step By Step Guide

Ever wondered how to replace your thirsty turf with a sustainable, waterwise lawn? Follow these easy steps!

Measure the lawn to be replaced

Determine the square feet of lawn you want to replace so you can calculate the number of plugs needed or amount of seed to be sown. Plugs are sold in flats of 70 and each flat covers about 70 sq. ft. of ground spaced on 12" by 12" centers.

measuring the planting area
Be sure to measure the planting area to confirm the amount of grass plugs or seed needed.

Kill the Existing Lawn

Here are three of the most common ways to kill an existing lawn. Note that withholding water WON’T do it. Even water intensive Kentucky Bluegrass just goes dormant and will come back to life when it rains.

  1. Smother it with organic matter: Let time work for you. If you can wait 6 months or longer, the old lawn can be killed by covering it with alternating layers of newspaper or corrugated cardboard and compost laid down about 6" deep. Once done, rototill the area and it's ready-to-plant. This method greatly improves the soil.
  2. Solarize it: The lawn can also be killed by covering the grass with clear plastic sheeting to solarize it (bake it to death). First, irrigate the soil--wet soil conducts heat better than dry. Then bury the edges of the grass with plastic all along the border of the lawn and put big rocks all across it to hold it down in the wind. This takes about 4-6 weeks and can be done from late spring through late summer when the daytime temperatures are hottest.
  3. Systemic herbicides: Our least favorite method--but the quickest way to get rid of your existing lawn--is to spray it with a glyphosate systemic herbicide. This kills the grass, roots and all, and does it within about 10 days. Plugs or seed can be planted when old grass is dead. While repeated widespread uses of glyphosate can be damaging to the environment, healthy soils are capable of breaking down any residual chemical from a one-time application. Keep kids and pets off the lawn until the herbicide has dried. Don't let pets eat the treated grass.
Rototilling is helpful when planting grass seeds, or after using the "smother" method.
leveling the planting area
Leveling the planting area as much as possible is recommended when planting grass plugs.

Once the old lawn is gone or you are planting into bare soil, there are two ways to plant the plugs:

  1. You can plant into bare soil that has been enriched with compost and other natural or organic fertilizers
  2. You can plant directly into dead turf that is thoroughly dead using the Drill and Fill Method (see below). It is NOT recommended that plugs be planted into a live lawn.

 Prestige Buffalo Grass Plugs is disease and insect resistant, as well as drought and moisture tolerant making it a great low-maintenance lawn for southern areas.

Drill and Fill with Plugs

If you have killed the existing lawn by methods 2 or 3 (see above), you can simply scalp the dead lawn by mowing it on the lowest lawn mower setting. Then you plant through the old lawn by drilling shallow holes, placing the plug into the hole and stepping on it to set it. This saves a lot of work and minimizes weeding as the plugs establish themselves, rooting as they spread across the old, dead grass.

Using a water drill to place the grass plugs.

Customer Tips For Soil Prep and Using A Water Drill To Plant Plugs:

"I think the advantage of the water drilling does a couple of things like pushing water down 8" inches and gives the plants a good passive watering. Also, it is a lot easier on your back. I did around 500 plugs and the time was about 5 hours. If you have a friend or two you could get the job quicker." -- Customer Erik L.

  • The old grass was killed, then tilled and raked level.
  • Installed drip soaker lines in a grid with 12"x12" spacing.
  • Used a root water feeder to water drill the holes (30 at a time). This method works particularly well if you have very hard soil.
  • Used a section of 3/4 PVC with a coupler and inserted it into each hole that was water drilled.
  • Dipped all plugs into "Organic Plant Magic" before placing them in the holes and pinching the dirt around the plant.

Seeding a New Lawn

If you're going to seed a new lawn, rototill the old lawn with the addition of compost and Yum Yum Mix to create a seedbed. Sow at the recommended rate.

sustainable lawn quick comparison
Use this chart to easily find the best grass option for your area.