Update: The Eco-friendly Way to Kill Grass

A few weeks ago I posted a lovely photo of our front yard draped in bright blue tarps, our attempt to kill our grass without using Round-up. I’m happy to report it worked! Below is a photo of my husband Steve and my dad breaking up the dead sod. I was glad to be the photographer rather than breaking my back, although I’ll be putting in plenty of yard time in the coming weeks.

As you can see, the grass was not yet completely dead. The tarps sat on the grass for nearly 3 weeks and gosh darn it, that grass would not die. Under some of the tarps we had laid black plastic garbage bags but we had run out halfway. It turned out the grass died where the black bags had been but not where only a tarp had laid.

After using pick-axes to break up the sod, Steve and my dad piled the green grass into several mounds and covered those mounds with black garbage bags and tarps. This did the trick and today, when we opened up the tarps after another 2 weeks of being covered (5 weeks altogether!), the grass was really, truly dead.

This goes to show you don’t have to use chemicals to get rid of your grass, but you do have to have a lot of patience, a strong back, and highly tolerant neighbors. We’re lucky enough to live almost at the end of a dead-end street so we have few passers-by to look at our eyesore of a yard.

Did you convert your yard from grass to eco-friendly landscaping? Tell me about it here and give me good ideas for our yard! We’re now working on bringing in mulch, top soil and native plants. The next photo I post will, hopefully, be easier on the eye than the photos so far.



  1. Scotty (Houston, TX) said,

    July 8, 2008 at 11:32 pm


    I’ve been trying to get a patch of grass in front of our house to die for like 2 months now. I had a yard guy come by and lay tarps down, then mulch over the top temporarily until the grass is dead. Well, I’ll be darn but I still have some weeds coming up in several places.

    Was curious what you used for a tarp…just a basic garden tarp from Home Deport or Lowes?

    I probably need to go out and remove all the mulch and redo what he missed.

    Also, did you figure out what to do with your hard yet?

  2. Beth said,

    July 9, 2008 at 11:46 am

    Hi Scotty,

    Thanks for posting. The key seemed to be laying down black plastic garbage bags under the tarps. We found the grass didn’t die in places where we hadn’t put the garbage bags while it did die where the bags were. We think this is because of the black attracting even more heat so it really smothers the grass. We left our tarps/ bags down for about a month all together, then chopped up all the grass and put it in piles and recovered it for another week or so. I’ll post a follow up photo soon. So far we’ve mulched and contoured, put in a walking path and done a few plantings but we have a lot of planting still to go. I’ll try to put up a photo within the week. Good luck with your grass! Let me know if the plastic bags do the trick.

  3. Scotty (Houston, TX) said,

    July 9, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    Hi Beth,

    Thanks for the note. Would love to see what you’ve done with the yard once you’re ready to show it.

    Appreciate you responding so quickly.


  4. Teresa said,

    July 25, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    We are just starting the process of killing our grass. We have a small yard and a very mature tree. Our arborist told us that we should not use plastic as we would be depriving the root zone of the tree which much needed water so we are trying a cardboard and newspaper weighed down with mulch. This seems to be a much slower process–but working.

  5. Carrie said,

    July 8, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    Hi!! :) We’re considering getting one of those flame-weeders. That should do the trick! We’re turning half our back yard into a veggie and herb garden. Love it! :)

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