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Which sod cutter is best?

Your lawn gets tired and worn out for many reasons. Sometimes invasive weeds take over and choke out your grasses. Ugly bare spots are caused by animal urine, fungal diseases, chemical spills, insects and too much shade.

When you decide to repair some areas of your lawn, the first thing you need to do is remove the old turf so the new grass can root properly. The best way to do this is with a sod cutter. If you’re looking for a sod cutter that cuts and installs small plugs, choose the Yard Butler Sod Plugger Turf Cutter and Plugging Tool and cut as many perfect 3-inch squares as you need.

What to know before you buy a sod cutter

How sod cutters work

People use sod cutters to cut grass below the roots so they can remove entire sections of sod at once, exposing the bare ground underneath. This removal of old turf is crucial to giving the new sod a chance to root in loose soil. Special sod cutters cut holes that exactly fit the commercial grass plugs used to fill bare spots.

No matter which sod cutter you buy, you are likely going to need a long-handled shovel to lift the old sod and a sturdy rake to smooth the ground for the new.

Power source

  • Motorized sod cutters cost thousands of dollars and are used to remove entire lawns so they can be seeded or have new sod installed. The big ones used on sod farms are overkill for people who only want to fill in spots on their lawn that are scraggly or bare. 
  • Hand-powered sod cutters are made for repairing bad spots on lawns, not for entirely replacing them. 


The simplest sod cutting tool is a hand-held garden knife with a long blade. After you make vertical cuts around all four sides, slice underneath to sever and remove the roots. This process dulls the blades quickly, so consider buying a multi-pack of knives if you have a full day’s work ahead of you.

What to look for in a quality sod cutter


  • Long-handled sod cutters: These are made to be used while standing. They have a handle at the top, a cutter at the bottom and a vertical bar connecting the two. Look for s handle long enough for you to use without having to bend over. Look also for a strong step plate so you can use the large muscles of your legs to cut through tough turf.
  • Short-handled sod cutters are made to be used while seated, kneeling or bent over. Look for handles that are easy to grip and sturdy blades that stand up to frequent resharpening.


It’s tougher to cut through grass and root systems than most people imagine, so blades need to be made of steel that takes a sharp edge.

Because every cut pushes the blade through dirt, the sharp edge gets dull quickly and needs frequent resharpening. If you plan on doing a lot of sod cutting, it’s an excellent idea to get a good sharpening tool.

How much you can expect to spend on a sod cutter

Small sod knives cost $10-$30. Long-handled cutters run $30-$60 and powered sod cutters cost in the thousands.

Sod cutter FAQ

How big a piece of sod should I try to cut?

A. If you’re moving large pieces of sod from your existing lawn to cover your bare spots, the best way is to cut pieces you can easily lift and handle without the sod breaking apart. A good rule of thumb is to cut strips that are as wide as your blade, but only as long as you can easily handle.

If I’m using commercial sod plugs, how many will I need per square foot?

A. The closer you place the plugs, the quicker the bare spaces between will grow in. Plan on anywhere from 300 to 600 plugs per 100 square feet of lawn. 

What if I need to replace an entire lawn?

A. Hand tools are no match for a large lawn, so consider renting a commercial sod cutter or hiring a landscaper.

What’s the best sod cutter to buy?

Top sod cutter 

Lawn-Garden-Best Yard Butler Sod Plugger Turf Cutter and Plugging Tool 

Yard Butler Sod Plugger Turf Cutter and Plugging Tool

What you need to know: This 4-pound tool is sized to fit commercially available 3- by 3-inch sod plugs.

What you’ll love: You can use this 33-inch-tall hand tool to cut small squares in the bare spots on your lawn and fill them with plugs you buy or ones you make yourself from the healthy areas of your lawn. The powder-coated steel hand and foot bars are sturdy, and the ejector button releases the plug without you having to bend over. 

What you should consider: It’s made for replacing small areas of sod.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top sod cutter for the money

Lawn-Garden-Best Linsen Outdoors Stainless Steel Garden Knife

Linsen Outdoors Stainless Steel Garden Knife

What you need to know: This double-sided knife has one blade for quick trimming and another for cutting fine edges.

What you’ll love: The high-quality stainless steel is treated to prevent rust and corrosion. The thermoplastic handle is ergonomically designed for secure, comfortable handling, and the nylon sheath with a sturdy belt loop keeps the knife handy and protects the blades from accidental damage.

What you should consider: It’s made only for cutting, so you will need to remove the sod by hand or with a flat shovel.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Lawn-Garden-Best Bully Tools 92390 12-Gauge Sod Lifter

Bully Tools 92390 12-Gauge Sod Lifter

What you need to know: Its triple-wall fiberglass handle is lightweight and sturdy.

What you’ll love: The D-shaped grip is designed for superior comfort, safety and durability. The 12-gauge steel cutting blade is 5 by 8 inches and easily kept sharp with a file or grinder.

What you should consider: Some reviewers wished the angle of the blade was steeper so they didn’t have to bend over as much.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 

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David Allan Van writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.


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