How To Get Rid Of Grass In A Vegetable Garden? (Without Killing Plants)

Planting a vegetable garden is usually well worth the effort. Not only do you get fresh and delicious vegetables, but it is rewarding to see something bloom and thrive due to your hard work. One of the first things is to decide where you want to plant your garden and how to get rid of all the grass and weeds in the area. 

Several methods for getting rid of grass in a vegetable garden include smothering, overheating, herbicide, and placing a barrier between the soil and your mulch or compost mix. 

While you don’t necessarily have to remove grass, many people decide to go ahead as it keeps the space clear for new growth, and it is easier to remove weeds and grass simultaneously. 

Will Grass Hurt My Vegetable Garden?

There are pros and cons to having grass in your vegetable garden. 

The cons are that having grass takes away some of the nutrients in your garden. This means you will likely have to water and fertilize more often. Additionally, since it blocks the sun, it can cause too much shade for plants like cucumbers if they aren’t staked. 

The extra shade can also cause the soil to be cooler. Plants like tomatoes and corn prefer colder temperatures, while others prefer warmer soil. Finally, grass can slow air circulation, increasing the chances of fungal infections in the rest of your plants. 

However, there are pros too. Having grass may attract some beneficial bugs like ladybugs and praying mantises. While it can also attract more harmful insects, there is a lot more food around for them to eat, and they may prey on the grass instead of your plant. 

Having a lot of grass can also keep weeds – that would harm your plant – choked out so that you don’t have to work so hard to ensure your garden is weed free. 

That said, most people don’t want grass in their garden. It tends not to look nice, and some people find the cons outweigh the pros. Whether or not you keep the grass in the garden is up to you. 

Do You Need to Remove Grass Before Planting Vegetables?

If you have a bare garden without grass, it is generally better to remove the grass before beginning your garden. Not only do you ensure that you don’t rip up your garden plants while trying to remove grass clumps, but it also frees up the space for your garden vegetables. 

Without grass, sprouts have more access to water, nutrients, and sunlight. Additionally, you often want to mix fertilizer into the soil or ensure the soil isn’t compact. To do this, you will often till the ground. This is the perfect time to remove grass as you can pull out the grass clumps you have ripped up while tilling. 

Grass can be added to compost for more nutrients that can go back into the soil and not create extra waste. Make sure the grass and roots have time to die completely before adding them back in.  

How Do You Start a Garden Where Grass is Currently?

A favorite method to remove grass is to rip up and till the soil. This helps to pull out any weeds in the area, rip up grass clumps, add in soil mixes or fertilizer, and ensure the soil is nice and loose. However, that isn’t the only option, and it isn’t ideal if you have a thick lawn, as it can jam the machine.  


If you want something easier to ensure that all the grass in the area is killed, herbicides are an excellent solution. Just make sure you pick one that is designed to kill the grass.

Usually, it takes a week until the soil is ready for gardening, but you can always wait another week or two to ensure everything is properly dead. Then, you can add mulch, compost, or manure to the top of your lawn and start growing. 

Sod Cutters

There are also specialized tools called sod cutters designed to cut and rip grass. Just make sure you take the time to cut the sod into relatively small strips so that they are easier to roll up and remove. 

This is a neat way to do it because if your ground is uneven, you just flip some sod upside down in that area to level it out. Once the sod is removed, use newspapers or cardboard to cover the exposed ground. Then you can add in your soil mix, manure, and compost. Or, after the sod is removed, you can till the ground and use the soil you already have. 

Tilling should be done a few months before the growing season to allow organisms back into the soil, as tilling can scare or kill off most of them. 


As weird as the name is, this is one of the easiest ways to convert lawns into gardens. All you do is cut your grass back as short as you can. Then, using a few layers of newspaper or cardboard, cover the entire area. Ensure all sunlight is blocked from the grass in the area you want to garden. 

Then you can cover the cardboard or newspaper with a soil mix of your choice. If you want, it takes about a season to kill the grass and dissolve the materials into the earth. Or, you can simply cut a hole where you want your garden plants to go. 

If you want to go the extra mile, you can do quite a few layers on your yard lasagna. For example, some people start with cardboard and soil but add additional layers such as grass clippings, kitchen scraps, compost, yard waste, and more. 

You can also replace the cardboard with plastic, as that ensures the removal of light from the grass as well. This is called solarization

What is the Easiest Way to Remove Grass?

Herbicide is the easiest and least labor-intensive way to remove grass from your garden. Herbicides have fewer harmful ingredients than other weed killers if used correctly, so you don’t have to worry about extensive damage to plants and natural areas around you. 

Solarization is another easy way to remove grass that doesn’t use chemicals. All you do is cover your grass with plastic. If you are doing it in the summer, clear plastic is ideal as it heats your grass to the point it dies. Blocking out the light with black plastic is best for the rest of the year. 

What Kills Grass and Weeds But Not Vegetable Plants?

The smothering or solarization methods are the best way to eliminate grass and weeds without harming your vegetable plants. You just cut a small area out where you want to plant your vegetable, and everything else that is covered will die. 

If you do have to weed, it will likely just be where the opening is, minimizing your time spent weeding. Plastic lasts much longer, but some stubborn plants will still break through. Cardboard deteriorates within a year, but will give your garden a good head start. 

How Do I Stop Grass from Growing in My Raised Beds?

Like with a regular garden, the key to keeping weeds and grass out of your raised bed is to add a barrier. When you are building your bed, place plastic or cardboard underneath. If you make the bed high enough, you shouldn’t even need to cut a hole for your vegetables. 

Some people just make a box entirely of wood, creating a natural barrier on the bottom anyway. 

Organic Grass Killer for Vegetable Garden

There are organic herbicides out there if you want something easy. They work like regular grass and weed killers with less harmful chemicals. Many simply use vinegar and some other ingredients to get the job done. 

If your plants don’t like acidic soil, it may be a good idea to let the soil rest for a bit before trying to plant your garden. Or you can add something to neutralize the vinegar before planting. 

How to Get Rid of Crabgrass in a Vegetable Garden?

Thankfully, crabgrass works just like many other types of grass. Using an herbicide is the easiest way to get rid of it. There are a few different types of herbicides, but pretty much all of them work for crabgrass. 

This includes selective herbicide targeting crabgrass, non-selective herbicide, and pre-emergent herbicide. 


Several methods for getting rid of grass in a vegetable garden include smothering, overheating, using herbicide, and keeping grass and weeds out of your garden by putting a barrier between the soil and your mulch or compost mix. 

There are many different methods to remove grass from your vegetable garden, whether you are about to start your garden or have already established plants. If you want a long-term solution, smothering or the lasagna method is best, but herbicide is ideal for those that aren’t able to do so much labor. 

No matter what method you use, we recommend waiting a few weeks to a couple of months to ensure your soil is ready to go before planting your vegetable garden. While this means you have to plan ahead, it is worth knowing that your garden will be easy enough to start when it is time.