How To Use A Sod Cutter (Step-By-Step Guide)

How to Use a Sod Cutter

Isn’t it lovely that we live in an age where landscaping machinery is readily available? There are a variety of reasons why you would need to cut your sod, so it’s only right that you have a tool that you can do that with. Today, there is no more using shovels to peel up the sod! A sod cutter can do the work for you! You only need to know how to use it.

Step-by-step instructions for how to use a sod cutter:

  • Put the transmission lever into neutral.
  • Push the blade lever away from you to lift the blade from the ground.
  • Bring the sod cutter to the area you want to cut. Before you start the engine, disengage the clutch.
  • Lift on the handles while you pull the blade lever toward you to lower it back to the grass.
  • Put the throttle into the ‘full’ position, and press down on the handles.
  • Now you simply walk back and forth along with the areas you want to cut!

Of course, operating a sod cutter is more involved than the above instructions. You may have to adjust the blade depth. You also have to wear protective equipment and take precautions concerning other people and animals. Once you get the hang of it, you can do some amazing things with your landscape!

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What Exactly Is A Sod Cutter?

The name of the machine is evident; it’s a sod cutter! Although it has more capabilities than one would think. There are a variety of other tasks for which you can use these beastly machines.

Here are a few different projects that you can do with a sod cutter:

  • Remove sod for relocation.
  • Expand flower beds and plant beds
  • Cut turf
  • Remove weeds at their roots.

As you can see, a sod cutter’s abilities reach further than what the name implies.

If you plan to strip grass, this machine will reach under the soil to do so. Cutting under the land keeps the grass intact so that you can move it to a new location. Or, if you want to build a garden bed, you have access to the soil. This helps grass seed to grow quickly as well if your aim is to have new grass.

Step-By-Step Instructions For Operating A Sod Cutter

Step 1: Put The Transmission Lever Into Neutral

You can find the transmission lever on the handles. Shifting the level to neutral will help to keep your sod cutter from going taking off on you. The machine is mighty, so this helps from having any unwanted occurrences. If you don’t shift it into neutral, then you can run the risk of the machine hitting or cutting something that it’s not supposed to.

Step 2: Lift The Sod Cutter Blade From The Ground

Lifting the blade from the ground is very important. If you have to cross rocks or concrete, you don’t want the blade dragging. Dragging the blade can cause damage to it. If you’re renting the equipment, you may be responsible for repair costs for damages.

Step 3: Disengage The Clutch

If the clutch is still engaged, the sod cutter will not start. Some individuals have issues starting their machines due to this very reason. If the sod cutter is not starting, check the clutch!

Step 4: Lower The Blade

Lower the blade to your desired level. Of course, this should occur after you bring it to the place you want to begin cutting. To lower the blade, you pull the handle toward you. To lift the blade, you push the lever away from you.

Also, for the blade level lever, you have an adjustment lever and angle release.

The other two levers help you to align the blade for a particular job correctly. If your project area has a lot of hills, the angle adjustment will help. Adjusting your angle will help keep the same cut depth across your space.

Step 5: Full Throttle Ahead!

Now you’re ready to begin cutting your sod. Move the transmission lever into the ‘full’ position. Press down on the handles to make sure you have a hold of the machine. Sod cutters have a lot of power behind them and will vibrate and shake.

When you’re cutting your surface, make sure you walk slowly. You should also walk in a straight line. Check to make sure the sod you have cut has 3/4 inches or less of soil. The depth is ideal for quick regrowth of replanted sod or anything you plant in the cut area.

Step 6: Turning Off The Sod Cutter

When finished with a cut, you need to turn off the machine and raise the blade. To shut it off, you simply lift on the handlebars. Next, disengage the clutch of your sod cutter. Finally, raise the blade and move it into position for the next cut.

The ideal length for sod cuts is 4 feet long. They can be shorter, depending on your needs.

Safety Precautions When Using A Sod Cutter

While operating a sod cutter, it is ideal to wear steel-toed boots. If these are not available to you, then any close-toed shoe will do. The correct footwear will protect your feet while the machine is under operation.

It’s also a good idea to wear some goggles to protect your eyes. The soil holds pebbles and such that can slingshot into the air. Glasses will help to prevent an eye injury in the case that this happens.

Pets and humans should remain at the very least 30 feet away from you while using the sod cutter. Again, this is because debris can launch into the air. So, to avoid any injuries, you should be the only one within 30 feet of the machine.

Where Can I Get A Sod Cutter To Use For My Projects?

There are two options for you to have access to a sod cutter. One option for you is to rent one from a home improvement store. The other option is to purchase one outright.

Rental Options And Prices

Here is just an example of the prices for Home Depot. Depending on your area, they may have other options available as well. This table gives you a general idea of the pricing:

Sod Cutter Rental Rates (Home Depot)
Classen Sod Cutter Pro Sod Cutter
Deposit $150.00 $150.00
4 hours $70.00 $77.00
1 Day $100.00 $110.00
1 Week $400.00 $440.00
4 Weeks $1,200.00 $1,320.00

In addition, you can check your local home improvement stores.

Purchasing Options For Sod Cutters

Buying these great pieces of machinery is expensive! Although, if you have a lot of work to do, it makes sense to buy one. Or, if you run a landscaping business buying one will help you save money in the long run!

General Sod Cutter Price Comparison
Billy Goat18 in hydro drive Sod Cutter Classen SC 5.5 Gear 18 in Sod Cutter Ryan 18 in 5.5 HP Jr. Sod Cutter
$3,650.00 $4,160.00 $5,299.00

The cutters reflected above are not industrial-grade machines. Industrial grade sod cutters run between $12,000 to $17,000.

A Few Additional Tips To Make Your Project Easier

Work In Small Sections

Working in small sections helps you to avoid mistakes. It’s a good idea to draw out the entire area from which you want to cut sod. Then, cut out smaller sections from within that section.

Water Your Grass Before You Cut

Watering the soil will make the cutting more simple. It will also decrease the risk of flying debris. You may still have debris ejected into the air, but it won’t be as much.

Plus, if you’re replanting the sod anywhere, it makes it easier to set. If you aren’t replanting, you can turn your grass into mulch!

Benefits Of Doing It Yourself

When hiring a professional, you are paying for the machinery and the labor. Plus, there is no guarantee that a professional will do it the way you want!

Operating a sod cutter is easy once you get the hang of it! Don’t let the learning curve discourage you. Now that you know how to work a sod cutter, what project will you start?

Related Questions

Should I till my land before cutting sod?

You should not till your land before cutting sod. This is especially true in the case where you remove turf. The sod will be dry and hard. It’s better to cut it out first and then till.

If you do not cut the sod first, it will make the job of tilling a lot harder than it needs to be.

How difficult is it to use a sod cutter?

Using a sod cutter isn’t very difficult as long as you are aware that it is a power-packed machine. It’s great if you need to remove large areas of sod; however, it can be challenging to control because it shakes so much. But once you nail the learning curve and figure out the tips and tricks, it is easy to use and quick.

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Our Takeaway

Using a sod cutter is relatively simple. By following the instructions within this article, you will learn how to use one in no time! However, make sure you set the cutter into neutral before starting because it’s such a powerful machine it may escape from your hands. Once you get over the learning curve, using a sod cutter is simple!

Heather Robbins

Heather is a passionate writer who loves anything DIY. Growing up, she learned everything from home repairs to design, and wants to share her tips with you. When she's not writing, she's usually hiking or searching for her next DIY project.

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