How to Clear Woods for Lawn Installation or Grass Installation

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Things You'll Need

  • Brush-clearing tool

  • Chainsaw

  • Shovel

  • Garden spade

  • Ax

  • Herbicide

  • Rototiller

  • Soil amendments

  • Hard metal rake


When selecting a herbicide, choose a spray that stops working when it encounters the ground so that it does not affect future plantings. You can add a lawn starter fertilizer to the soil when you are turning it to help your new turf establish. Have your soil's pH level tested at a local garden center or cooperative extension, or do it yourself with a home kit.


Wear gloves, eye protection and long pants and sleeves when you are doing clearing work to avoid ticks, poison ivy and poison sumac.

Image Credit: Jupiterimages/ Images

Clearing out a heavily wooded area and replacing it with turf can seem like a daunting task, but several helpful tools can make the clearing process easier. You will need to choose tools that suit the density of brush or trees in the area. Once you have chosen the correct tools for your situation, you will be able to clear the woods efficiently and prepare the area for turf installation.


Step 1

Clear away heavy brush or high grass using a brush-clearing tool. A machete or a similarly bladed tool will work best for soft green brush. If you have heavy or thick brush, use a handsaw or chainsaw.

Step 2

Use a chainsaw to cut down larger trees. Cut each fallen tree into pieces and remove them from the area.

Step 3

Remove each tree or shrub stump by digging around it with a shovel or heavy garden spade. Use an ax to cut away roots as you encounter them. When you have cut most of the roots, pull the stump out of the ground and back-fill new soil into the hole.


Step 4

Spray the area with a brush-killing herbicide. Follow the product's mixing instructions carefully. Apply the spray evenly while taking care not to spray any surrounding plants you want to keep.

Step 5

Rototill the soil or turn it over with your shovel to a depth of 4 to 6 in. (approximately 100 to 150 mm). If you encounter any plant roots that you missed when you were clearing the area, remove them. If you have poor topsoil, or if your soil is very sandy or has a high clay content, consider adding soil amendments or new topsoil now.

Step 6

Add granulated lime to the area if you have acidic soil (pH below 6.0). Bring the soil pH toward neutral so that the new turf will start properly. Mix the granulated lime into the soil using your metal rake and shovel.


Step 7

Flatten the area with your metal rake and shovel. Make the ground as level as possible to avoid any seed drift or unequal moisture distribution. After the area is level, prepare a firm top surface for planting.


references & resources

Kyle Lanning

Writing out of Hamden, Conn., Kyle Lanning is a full-time student who has been writing at the collegiate level for the past five years and has been published extensively on eHow. Lanning currently holds a B.S. in business management from Clarkson University and is pursuing a J.D. at Quinnipiac University School of Law.