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How To Use a Turf Cutter

Follow our DIY guide on how to use a turf cutter, so you can remove or rejuvenate your lawn at home or at work.

A turf cutter removes the surface of a lawn by cutting into the sides of the top layer and sliding a thin blade underneath, severing grass cleanly towards the base of the roots. This action creates removable strips that you can lift to reveal the ground beneath. These strips of sod are made up of grass and a layer of soil, held together by the remaining roots. As these strips of turf are consistent in width, depth and can be cut to any length, you can easily roll them up and carry them away. Therefore, you can relocate, relay, or dispose of the turf as garden waste quickly and easily, without much mess.

Sod cutters are self-propelled machines, and they are easy to use. They are reasonably compact and lightweight, with simple controls and adjustable components that allow you to alter them for your comfort and specific application. For example, you can usually change the handle height, the cutting depth, and sometimes the cutting width.

Due to their ease of use, these machines are suitable for removing turf from any grassy area. You can use them for DIY gardening projects and rejuvenating your outdoor areas at home. You can also use them for professional landscaping, construction, installing underground utilities, laying sports pitches, and much more.

When is the best time to use a turf cutter?

Turf cutters are robust and straightforward machines. Therefore, you are not usually restricted or limited to a time of year or certain weather conditions to use one. However, they do work better when the ground isn’t particularly hard. If the ground is frozen, or there has been a long period without rainfall, we recommend delaying your project.

Spring and autumn are the ideal seasons for using gardening equipment, as the weather isn’t too warm or too dry, and the ground isn’t too soft or too hard. Similarly, it is better to work in the garden when there’s a lot of bright, natural light.

Using a turf cutter


  1. Test the depth of your lawn. You can use a garden fork to do this, or any implement, really. Your lawn must be at least 25mm deep, or you won’t be able to use a turf cutter properly.
  2. Look for and remove any objects and debris like stones, rubble, tree stakes, and so on. Anything like this on the ground can damage your equipment.
  3. Trim the grass short. You can use a lawnmower to trim the grass, making the turf easier to cut through and more compact when you roll it up.

Start your equipment (based on our petrol turf cutter).

  1. Turn the engine ignition switch on.
  2. Turn the fuel tap on.
  3. Pull the recoil handle slowly. When you feel it engage, pull it quickly and sharply.
  4. When the engine starts running, don’t let the cord snap back into position. Slowly return it instead.

Cutting your turf.

  1. Place the machine into position with the turf you want to cut directly in front of you.
  2. Set your cutting depth between 25mm and 40mm using the height adjustment knob.
  3. Check that the gear lever is in the ‘0’ position.
  4. Lower the blades into the turf.
  5. Switch the gear lever to the ‘I’ position to set the machine in motion.
  6. When you reach the end of your strip, raise the blades. If you want to cut another strip, reposition the machine and repeat the steps. Otherwise, turn the engine off entirely.

Are you tackling more jobs in the garden this year? Check out some more of our popular blogs and guides - Lawn Aerators: Hollow Tines v Solid TinesHow To Use A Lawn ScarifierHow To Use a RotavatorHow To Aerate a Lawn.