If you are laying new sod with an existing lawn in place or you are moving sod to make room for a garden or other project, you will need a tool called a sod cutter to effectively cut the sod. You can make do with other tools, but you will not get the clean cuts that you want or need. Because this is a one-job-only kind of tool, many people hesitate to buy one. If you are only going to need it for one project, then you are better off renting if you cannot borrow. However, if you are going to need it several times in the future, buying could potentially sense.
Choosing the Right Sod Cutter
- The size of the job that you are doing will be the main factor in choosing a sod cutter. The bigger the job, the less energy you will want to put in to moving the tool along. A two-foot by five-foot roll of sod weighs a total of 35 pounds.
- Some of the non-powered sod cutters require a lot of muscle power to use them correctly. You are cutting through the lawn’s root system and down into the soil by several inches, so keep that in mind.
- The powered version also requires some level of muscular strength, because it shakes as it moves ahead. You will really need to focus on keeping it in line so that your cuts are straight and even.
Sod Cutter Options
- The most basic of all of the sod cutters is called a square edge sod cutter. You may have seen one of these before in your local home improvement store. They look like your common garden shovel with a squared off front edge. Their handles are typically a little shorter for better strength where you need it. These are good for really small patches of sod or narrow areas where machines may not work. You can also use this tool to edge your lawn and around obstacles. While they are not the best idea for huge projects, they are useful enough to consider adding to your garden tool selection.
- The kick sod cutter is a little more complex, but is also a little more effective. This one takes some muscle as well as some level of coordination to use, so if you have physical limitations the kick sod cutter may not be right for you. It has two longer handles plus a cross bar near the bottom. A flat, adjustable blade sits along the ground. You hold on to the two handles and then you kick the crossbar to slide this tool across the area that you are cutting. If you are very short, you are probably going to have the handles out past you a little bit so that you are kind of in the frame. At the end of the row you are cutting, you tip the cutter to the side to disengage it, and then go back, roll up your piece of sod, and go on to the next section.
- The motorized sod cutter is usually gas powered and can be quite noisy and difficult to handle. Once it gets going it shakes a bit. You will need some serious muscle to keep it on the straight path. You may have to make adjustments after the first cut if you notice it is not cutting deeply enough. Most homeowners do not find they need this tool often enough to consider purchasing.
Renting a Motorized Sod Cutter
- Determine approximately how long you will need this tool. Most places offer hourly or by the day rental fees. Once you are over a single hour’s worth of work, it makes more sense to rent for the entire day. You time the work out with a neighbor’s lawn needs and split the cost of the rental.
- The cost of the rental will not cover the cost of oil and gas for the machine. Some places will give you a quick rundown of how to use it; others may not. If there is an instruction manual, take the time to go over it so that you are using this powerful tool safely and efficiently.
- Make sure that you will be able to transport the sod cutter to and from the rental location on time. If you’re late on the return, you may be forced to pay another day’s worth of rental fees.
Borrowing a Sod Cutter
- Borrowing is another option that you could explore. If you have a friend who has a sod cutter in their garage, this is probably the most appealing option. This will save you money plus keep you from having to transport it to and from a rental location or worrying about late fees.
A final option is to have this step of your project handled by a professional or a semi-professional. Even if you want to lay the sod or build a garden yourself, you can have some help doing some of the prep work. This is a step that takes a lot of physical strength and intensive, hands-on labor, so if you are not up to it, hire someone.