All landscaping edging performs three basic functions.
- Landscape edging neatens the border between lawn and garden bed
- Landscape edging provides a barrier against invading grass and weed roots
- Landscape edging holds mulch (or other ground cover) in the bed
When considering adding a crisp edge to your landscape, first you’ll consider why you want the edging and then contemplate the variety of ways to edge a garden or bed. This crisp distinction between one segment of landscape to another could be a trench or a barrier, in which the edging is placed. This edging could be made of a variety of materials. Every lawn, garden or bed is also different. Thus, the preferred edging choice may also be different for each.
Let’s take a look at the different options for landscape edging that could work best for your landscape needs and wants.
Natural Edge vs Edging Materials when Edging Landscape
Natural Edge Landscape Edging
A natural edge uses the existing ground to create an eco-friendly line between the lawn and the chosen bed or garden. A natural edge can be accomplished by hand using an edging spade, slicing about 6 inches into the earth. If you’re not looking to do a whole lot of labor, you can purchase an edging machine or a bed shaper attachment to connect directly to the front of your string trimmer. You can even turn your string trimmer on an angle and aggressive cut down into the soil.
Once the natural edge has been accomplished, it is easy to mow right up to the edge without damaging the mower on foreign barrier objects. Natural edging is one of the more popular options, behind using a sort of metal as an edging barrier.
Bed shapes with natural edging can be easily altered by digging a new edge. A natural edge does require quite a bit of upkeep to maintain that nice, crisp edge. If you aren’t willing to put in the labor for upkeep, but still want that natural edge, you can hire a landscaper to come every few weeks to clean up the natural edge to make it clean and crisp once again.
Landscape Edging Using Edging Materials
Edging materials create a barrier between the lawn and chosen bed or garden. These materials can include natural stone, cobblestone pavers, wood, metal, plastic, concrete, and brick. Each material gives a different look and has different pros and cons.
The most prominent “pro” to an edging material gives is that there is an actual barrier there to keep the lawn’s grass from migrating into your garden bed. A “con” that applies to all materials, is that they will need to be purchased. Some materials are more expensive than others, so know what you’re willing to spend if you’re considering using edging materials rather than creating a natural edge. If you dig deep enough into your creativity, you may even be able to find a similar material to give the same look and serve the same purpose that is a fraction of the cost.
Landscape Edging Options
Trench vs Barrier
As stated above, a trench verses a barrier for natural edging is the biggest distinction.
To recap, the trenching option may not be best for your needs because it requires frequent maintenance—re-digging the trench every so often. More often than not, when an edge is being installed, it’s to reduce landscape maintenance and increase the style of your overall landscape.
Edges formed from barriers have a variety of material options, including natural stone, cobblestone pavers, wood, metal, plastic, concrete, and brick.
Things to Think About When Choosing Your Edging Material:
Natural stone: It is very durable and has a great look but can be pricey. If you are not in any condition to be lifting heavy objects, natural stone may not be the right choice for you.
Cobblestone pavers: If you’re craving a uniform look, these are perfect because they fit together like puzzle pieces. If you’re wanting a more imperfect look, these may be too “perfect” for your wants.
Wood: Wood can provide you with a very natural, rustic look. On the downside, untreated wood rots fairly quickly. You could use treated wood but is then eliminated from the “natural” options. If you’re edging a vegetable garden, over treated wood may be harmful.
Metal: Metal provides a clean line without the worry of rotting or becoming brittle. It is fairly easy to install and requires little to no maintenance.
Plastic: Plastic is a great option if your budget it tight. Plus, they’re light-weight. On the other hand, plastic is also considered a “cheap” material, so you’re getting what you pay for in this case.
Concrete: Concrete is a popular edging material. It is a long-term solution, so if you have a temporary garden, this may not be the best option for you. Concrete edging also allows you to mow right up to the edge of it without harm. Poured concrete can also be stamped and colored to meet your visual landscaping wants.
Brick: Brick gives a very traditional look to your landscape. They are individual pieces that are fairly light, so heavy lifting isn’t a problem. If they’re not installed correctly, they can be prone to movement, allowing grass and weeds to leak into your garden.
How to Determine Which Landscape Edging is Best for You
You want your landscape edging to be attractive, but it shouldn’t steal the show from your plants in your garden bed. Also, consider the amount of maintenance you’re willing to do, how much you’re willing to spend, and what look you’re chasing when choosing the best landscape edging option for your needs and wants.
- Analyze the shape and style of your garden. Is it formal, rustic, geometric, imperfect? You’ll want an edging option that compliments that design. Do you want something that isn’t noticeable or something more ornamental? For instance, maybe you want to use brick. You could have a low-lying brick edging, giving a rustic look, or you could stack those same bricks in some sort of grout to give your garden a more formal look.
- Establish a budget. As stated above, some edging options are pricier than others. If you love an expensive option, but have a low budget, try to recreate that look with similar, less expensive materials. You could use natural stones collected from the yard, recycled materials, old bricks, or salvaged flooring tiles.
- Be aware of what your edging materials will endure in your local climate. If you live near the ocean, metal edging may not be your best option due to rust from the ocean spray. Wood edging will only last so long in boggy, rainy areas, so vinyl may be a safe alternative. Most stones look attractive and can endure a broad range of climate but can be on the upper end for pricing. Also, avoid using materials saturated with chemicals around gardens housing edible plants. The chemicals can seep into the soil and contaminate your vegetables, fruits, or herbs.
- Create a pro and con list of the most common landscape edging. The most basic, cheap, and easily installed edging is black plastic edging. It is pounded into the ground with a rubber hammer along the garden’s border. A disadvantage to this method is that the material isn’t very sturdy and can crack or split due to the UV rays from the sun or being stepped on by people passing by the edging.
- MAINTENANCE! Consider how much your chosen option will need. Narrow edging may require more upkeep, while thicker edging may need less. The best dimensions to keep grass roots and weeds from invading your garden are 6 inches deep, 6 inches wide, and a few inches above the lawn’s surface. These dimensions may require a little more labor to be installed but are sure to reduce the amount of maintenance required in the future.
- Measure the border you intend to edge and add at least 10% to that total. The extra 10% of length allows wiggle room for bends, shirts, and turns in the border. Measuring the full required length will help you have a more accurate cost of the full landscape edging job with the materials you’ve chosen.
Is professional landscape edging better than DIY edging?
The answer to this question is largely based on opinion. Not everyone has what it takes to be a successful DIY-er. If that is the case for you, you should hire a professional. If you are confident that you can do it yourself, read over some tips and tricks before you start to ensure you have a professional outcome.
It is said by some that there is no “secret” to edging like a pro; it’s all about having the right tools. The main difference between a professional landscaper (and professional landscape edging) and DIY, is often that that professionals do this job 5 days a week, so they know exactly what they’re doing with plenty of experience.
If you do plan on doing your landscape edging yourself, create a plan before you start. Be sure to have all the materials and tools needed to properly edge your garden bed. Once you’ve mastered the craft, you can make all your great garden designs and ideas come to life on your own without the help of a professional.
Of course, another perk to taking on the task of doing it yourself, is saving money by not having to hire a professional landscaper for labor, on top of purchasing materials.
When making the decision, weigh out your advantages and disadvantages to hiring a professional and DIY to make a decision on your landscape edging.