3. Remove Sod with Heavy Equipment, Then Till
This method is a hybrid of the first two methods. Removing the sod before tilling prevents grass from growing back and allows you to plant your garden immediately.
To get started, rent a sod-cutter and a heavy-duty rototiller from a farm or hardware store. Or, if you’re planning a large bed, consider hiring a landscaper to do the sod-cutting step because rolled-up strips of sod can be extremely heavy.
Use the sod-cutter to remove the sod. If you lose a lot of topsoil during the process, you can replace it with topsoil attained from your local garden store or landscaper. Layer topsoil, compost, and any other soil amendment over the exposed ground. Next, incorporate the new topsoil and amendments into the soil with the tiller.
Although removing the sod before tilling will cut back on future weeding by preventing grass from growing back, tilling might still bring weed seeds to the surface.
Pros: Quicker and easier than digging; prevents grass from growing back; permits immediate planting.
Cons: Renting heavy equipment and replacing topsoil can be expensive; tillers don’t work well on rocky sites, in wet soil, or in clay soil; tilling propagates weeds and disrupts soil structure.
(Image courtesy of elvisripley via a Creative Commons license.)