The Deck: Cutting Sod and Marking Holes

Once we got our permit our first objective was to prep the ground before we could start any building. Chris’ first thought was that he could use a rototiller to till up the ground and then remove all the sod that way. Unfortunately the really old tiller he borrowed from his brother just wasn’t working as expected. I think all it did was tear up the ground a little but not really make removing the sod any easier.

Preping for Deck Footings 1

After he gave up on the tiller Chris tried digging up the sod up using a shovel. Somewhere in the middle of this is where I came out to help. Let me just tell you; removing sod with a shovel is really hard. I had to take numerous breaks and I wasn’t even working that long. We probably got less than 1/3 of the way done when we started to rethink the shovel approach.

Preping for Deck Footings 2

To keep from killing ourselves Chris did a little calling around and we decided to head into Home Depot to rent a sod cutter. We sort of felt like it would be a waste since we already had done some of the work but in the end it was so worth it. It was amazing how much easier and cleaner it was to use the sod cutter.

Preping for Deck Footings 3

We worked for less than and hour and half and Chris had all the sod cut and we had rolled most of it up as well. Then all we had to do was clean up the last piles of sod and dirt.

Preping for Deck Footings 4

We filled up the wheelbarrow quite a few times. Chris made a big pill of sod and dirt on the side off our property where once the blackberries grow over it we won’t even be able to see it.

Preping for Deck Footings 5

In the picture below you can see all those nice rolls of sod all pilled up. It was definitely worth the rental cost (about $80 for a 4 hour rental) to save a lot of time and energy.

Preping for Deck Footings 6

The sod cutter also made a nice clean edge that we know looks much better than if we had removed all the sod with shovels.

Preping for Deck Footings 7

Since we finished removing the sod in one day we were able to come back the next day and start to mark locations for the deck footings.

Preping for Deck Footings 8

After a lot of measuring, calculation and remeasuring we marked almost every hole for our footings. All we have left is stair footings and two footings that will be located right where the stairs are.

Preping for Deck Footings 9

Next up is digging all the holes. That is if we can we can actually find an auger to rent. Hopefully I’ll have more to share on this soon. (Update: Check our how we dug our holes here.)

Until then follow along with the rest of the deck saga. First we got our permit and then I talked about our deck design

Has anyone else tried to dig up sod by hand or rented a sod cutter instead?


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