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Stripping turf

Has anyone ever used a turf stripper?  What sort, what did it cost, and how well did it perform?

I have small "lawns" back and front, they contain more weeds than grass, plus lots of bumps and hollows.  In March, I started stripping off the turf and digging over the soil underneath, with a view to raking it flat and seeding it later in the year.  It was easy enough to start with as we'd had a month of rain.  Now the ground is so hard (it's clay) that I'm making very slow progress and making my trowel hand sore! 

I've looked online at turf strippers and there is a huge range of prices.  The cheapest is a non-powered one, just a flat metal blade on the end of a long handle, but I can't see that you'd be able to get much welly behind it.   The prospect of getting it all done in a day or two is very tempting.  I'd want to hire, not buy, as it's not a process I intend repeating!
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  • nick615nick615 SW IrelandPosts: 1,116
    I used a shovel for quite a large area (ordinary builders' model) and it didn't take too long.  You can then turn the turfs over in a stack to kill the weeds and make yourself some usable soil after a while.
  • K67K67 Leicestershire Posts: 2,507
    Shovel or spade sharper the better. Kneel down and slide the spade under the turf as shallow as possible then using you body weight push as far as it will go you can bash it back in or lift that piece and start again. I did cut it first into spade width strips as I was in my late 60s and it made it easier but I cut a 1m x 30m border this way plus lots of other areas over time.

  • KiliKili Posts: 910
    edited May 2020
    I use a grub axe. Use the thin edge to cut a square then the grub to cut under and out. Works a treat. No kneeling just a gentle swing, let the weight of the axe do the work.

    'The power of accurate observation .... is commonly called cynicism by those that have not got it.

    George Bernard Shaw'

  • josusa47josusa47 Posts: 3,532
    edited May 2020
    Thanks for trying to help, but my question is about petrol- or electric-powered machines, not hand tools.  I'd figured out for myself how to do it manually, but as a little old lady I'm finding it very hard, and slow going.  That's why I'm asking about using a machine.  Now I've pushed myself back to the top of the list, I hope someone who knows about turf-stripping machines will respond.
  • K67K67 Leicestershire Posts: 2,507
    Do your research via Google or YouTube lots of videos with people using them then you can judge for yourself. 
    You say you are a little old lady, as am I, but only you can decide if youve the muscle to use one. Whats easy for some it's for others.
  • Digging-itDigging-it Posts: 82
    if you intend to hire the machine, it might be likely the shop may have only one model so you really won’t have much choice in the end....just a thought.
  • Dave HumbyDave Humby HampshirePosts: 1,132
    Most toolhire shops will have one available - under normal circumstances. I’ve used one and they are a real handful. There is definitely a technique to them, the trouble is you can’t really practice and perfect that technique other than by trying! You have to get the speed right, you have to make sure the cutting blade is in the ground at the right point and depth. A bumpy lawn gives another layer of difficulty. I was hoping for nice clean cuts of consistent thickness. In reality it looked like a herd of wild boar had been in the garden hunting for worms! Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration but suffice to say they are not a walk in the park. Might be worth hiring a man with a machine rather than a machine alone. 
  • josusa47josusa47 Posts: 3,532
    Thanks a lot, some really helpful answers.  
  • B3B3 South East LondonPosts: 22,410
    I cut bricks sized sections with a half moon and then slice under each 'brick ' to remove it. Then loosen up the soil underneath. Ive only used this method to create or enlarge flower beds . It'd probably take a while for a large area
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • josusa47josusa47 Posts: 3,532
    B3 said:
    I cut bricks sized sections with a half moon and then slice under each 'brick ' to remove it. Then loosen up the soil underneath. Ive only used this method to create or enlarge flower beds . It'd probably take a while for a large area
    I think you've been watching me!  That's exactly how I've been doing it.  I think I'll just carry on, but postpone digging over the underlayer until we've had some rain.  
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