I have a backyard that is not flat/level. There is wild grass and weeks growing. top View side view I was trying to dig it up using a shovel and the roots of the wild grass is pretty deep. Once I’m able to push pass the grass and into the dirt O can kind of lever up a patch. It is kind of back breaking and very hard. Are there other ways that can help me dig up the grass and level? Tools that will help but won’t break the bank?

2 Answers 2


Unlike spades, shovels are not designed for digging. If you want to do it by hand, use a tool with a sharp straight blade, not a curved shovel blade which can never cut to an even depth. And don't use a tool with a plastic handle unless you want to get blisters on your hands.

The quickest way and easiest way, and reasonably priced in the UK, is to hire a turf cutter (probably called a sod cutter in the USA).

  • Yes, they're called sod cutters in the US. You can usually rent manual or powered;y recommendation, if you've never used one before, is to rent a manual one. You could do the area next to the fence with the manual cutter and then rent a powered one if you find the manual one too difficult to use. This won't help with the "wild grass" issue, since it only goes about 2 inches deep. If by "wild grass" you mean quackgrass, then you're in for a very difficult time in trying to remove it.
    – Jurp
    Commented Mar 18, 2020 at 22:29

If you are only looking to dig out the weed grasses and other weeds, its easier if the soil is damp or moist, number one, and number two, use a garden fork, one with a long handle and 4 tines (like these https://diygarden.co.uk/best-garden-fork/). I added a link because I don't know if 'garden fork' means the same in the USA as it does in the UK - I know you guys generally call anything spade like a shovel, whereas in the UK, a spade and a shovel are different from each other in that a spade is intended for digging whereas a shovel is for shovelling (gravel, cement, whatever), so the shape of the tools are different. It's easier to loosen the soil all around the clump with a fork, then deploy the spade to remove loose soil to get deeper down if you need to, and lever up the clump with the fork, with its roots. Afterwards, you will need to fill in the holes left behind with weed free topsoil - tread it down and add or remove some to get it level with the rest of the lawn.

  • Can I just turn over the top layer of the soil or do I need to throw that away? If I turn it over will the weed grasses die?
    – milesmeow
    Commented Mar 23, 2020 at 5:21
  • No - you need to get their roots out, even if you strip out all the grass to re lay sods. That applies to any weeds growing in it too...
    – Bamboo
    Commented Mar 23, 2020 at 11:30
  • Dig deep enough to get the roots and then throw away everything? And then add fresh dirt?
    – milesmeow
    Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 23:39

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