Using an active grid in a wind tunnel, we generate homogeneous shear turbulence and initiate turbulent boundary layers with adjustable properties. Homogeneous shear turbulence is characterized by a constant gradient of the mean velocity and a constant turbulence intensity. It is the simplest anisotropic turbulent flow thinkable, and it is generated traditionally by equipping a wind tunnel with screens which have a varying transparency and flow straighteners. This is not done easily, and the reachable turbulence levels are modest. We describe a new technique for generating homogeneous shear turbulence using an active grid only. Our active grid consists of a grid of rods with attached vanes which can be rotated by servo motors. We control the grid by prescribing the time-dependent angle of each axis. We tune the vertical transparency profile of the grid by setting appropriate angles of each rod such as to generate a uniform velocity gradient, and set the rods in flapping motion around these angles to tailor the turbulence intensity. The Taylor Reynolds number reached was R ¿ = 870, the shear rate S = ¿U/¿y = 9.2 s-1, the nondimensional shear parameter S *= Sq 2/e = 12 and u = 1.4 ms-1. As a further application of this idea we demonstrate the generation of a simulated atmospheric boundary layer in a wind tunnel which has tunable properties. This method offers a great advantage over the traditional one, in which vortex-generating structures need to be placed in the wind tunnel to initiate a fat boundary layer.