Landscape edging creates a defined boundary between your lawn and decorative beds. Putting this boundary between the grassy area and the garden bed’s mulch or soil prevents grass roots and clippings from invading the pampered areas.
Landscape edging can also be useful around driveways, walkways, and patios to keep the pavement free of grass tracings.
There is an abundant list of materials that can be used for landscape edging, giving a neat, crisp, well-defined landscape.
Landscape edging also makes long-term lawn and garden maintenance a whole lot easier, with less of a hassle.
Landscape Edging Materials
Natural Stone Landscape Edging:
Natural stone landscape edging is very durable and weather-resistant, not to mention it gives a great natural look to your landscape. It is also weedeater-resistant, meaning you don’t have the worry of destroying your landscape edging while trimming the neighboring grass and weeds. Natural stone can be expensive, so you may want to scope around your yard to see what is already available. But stone is also a heavy material to use, therefore, you’ll need a truck to haul them and the ability to do some heavy lifting.
Wood Landscape Edging:
Wood gives a very rustic, natural, homey look to your landscape. Untreated wood will rot very quickly and will need to be replaced often. Wood that has been treated with chemicals shouldn’t be used around gardens that are housing edible plants because there is a risk that the chemicals can seep into the soil. Those edible plants could then absorb those harsh chemicals, causing health concerns when those plants are used or consumed.
Metal Landscape Edging:
Metal landscape edging is known as the “little black dress” of landscape edging materials: elegant, strong, and timeless. It offers a practical, clean-cut border around your garden beds. It uses very little space and can be very discreet. The biggest plus of metal edging products is that the “right metal” is almost completely weather resistant and will not crack, chip, or become brittle. Like natural stone, metal will not sustain damage from the weed eater or other garden maintenance tools. Once metal edging has been pounded into the ground, it has little to no movement, staying in place for a job well done.
Plastic Landscape Edging:
Plastic happens to be the most affordable landscape edging material. There are several different landscape edging products made of plastic; some can be a little sturdier than others. However, plastic edging can give off a cheap look if you don’t choose a quality product and/or it is not installed properly. It also tends to require more installation time because the material doesn’t always unroll the way you need it to accommodate to your edging needs.
Concrete Landscape Edging:
Concrete is very functional as well as decorative for landscape edging. It can be colored to match the surroundings of your landscape and can also be stamped to your liking. Concrete can be poured by hand or poured professionally using a curb machine. This curb mold machine molds and creates the edge as it lays the concrete. Concrete edging serves as a long-term edging solution and requires little to no maintenance. On the downside, concrete edging can be expensive, starting at $4 per foot. It also may crack but can be easily repaired. Be sure you have it mapped out exactly where you want it because once it’s poured, it is not easily moved.
Brick Landscape Edging:
Brick offers a very traditional addition to your landscape. Solid brick can be crisp and modern or salvaged brick can be used to give more rustic, tattered scenery. Brick can also be laid flush with the grass to make it easier to mow and weed eat right up to the edge, maintaining a sharp landscape. Bricks will need to be mortared to prevent movement once they are placed along the border.
Different Grass Influences on Your Landscape Edging Choice
There are several different factors to consider when choosing your landscape edging material and the type of grass that makes up your lawn is one of those factors.
Different types of grass have different characteristics that may need to be accommodated to by your edging material. For instance, some grasses root deeper into the soil, meaning you’ll need an edging material that isn’t just superficial. You’ll need something that can be implanted into the ground deep enough to prevent grass roots from invading your garden bed or hardscape area. Some of the most common lawn grasses include St. Augustine, Bermuda, Perennial Ryegrass, Fescue, and artificial grass.
Zoysia is an Asian native grass but has been working well in the U.S. since 1895. It is a beautiful warm season grass that great up well to traffic. Zoysia is a little harder to develop but once it takes hold, it forms a dense mat making weed establishment more difficult. The establishment period can take longer because it develops a deep root system, up to 2' deep. The distal portion of the roots serve to source ground water making deep and infrequent irrigation cycles advantageous. The spreading and colonizing portion of the root structure is more shallow but still deep compared to many other common grasses. A deeper edging works best with Zoysia grasses.
This is a great lower maintenance grass utilized by many homeowners in warmer climates. First introduced in the U.S. in 1916 from South China. This grass is adaptive to low fertility environments and resistant to most pests when properly managed. Centipede has a fairly shallow root structure, typically residing in the first 6" or less of the soil. Centipede can be a poor performing grass in the absence of water. Watering conditions can dictate the depth of centipede roots and overall appearance.
St. Augustine Grass:
This grass is a thick, carpet-like grass that has the ability to crowd out most weeds and other foreign grasses. The blades of this grass are very wide, hence the thickness. St. Augustine grass roots deep into the Earth, making it perfect for anything from lawns to pastures. It flourishes in low country areas, receiving a moderate amount of sunlight, such as Texas. This grass grows rapidly and will need to be mowed often to maintain an appropriate length. A deep metal edging to guard off the grass’ deep roots and keep the frequent grass clippings out of the mulch or soil of your garden bed. A superficial plastic edging material is not ideal for this grass.
This is an aggressive, warm-season turfgrass. This grass is capable of surviving extreme heat, drought, and heavy foot traffic. Having this aggressive characteristic, it can easily become invasive to neighboring landscape. Bermuda grass can become difficult to manage once it has gotten out of control, invading surrounding areas. It also creates a deep root system, making it even more difficult to eradicate in areas where it is not welcome. The best way to maintain this grass is to maintain healthy, thick turf and keep the mowing height around 3-4 inches. Mulching flower and plant beds will help to minimize Bermuda grass invasion. Appropriate edging will need to be something that can penetrate at least 6 inches into the ground to prevent this aggressive grass from competing with your shrubs, plants, and flowers.
It is described as a cool season perennial bunchgrass, but can also adapt to mild climate areas. Bunchgrass only produces tillers, which are stems produced that grow after the initial parent shoot, possessing its own two-part leaf. This characteristic limits the grass’ ability to spread. This grass is known for its ability to quickly establish itself, hence as to why it is a common lawn grass. Perennial Ryegrass peaks its growth during the cool season, fall through spring, maintaining its green color year-round. This grass can also be seeded over existing warm-season lawns in the fall for a temporary green lawn during the winter months. It has shallow roots, meaning a more superficial landscape edging material can be used. A small trench with an edging material filling should suffice to set the boundary between your lawn and garden bed.
Fescue is valued for its adaptability to a wide range of climates and survival through the cold, heat, drought, and shade. This grass is suitable for northern and transition zones. A huge pro to Fescue grass is that it is disease resistant. It grows in bunches with an extensive root system reaching up to 3 feet deep. The spreading capacity of this grass is limited, growing vertically rather than horizontally, making it easy to contain and keep out of flower beds. Even though it has a very deep root system, a deep landscape edging material is not needed due to its vertical growth pattern. A shallow or an above ground edging should work just fine to contain this grass.
Since artificial grass or turf isn’t living, it doesn’t have a root system. This grass is made of synthetic grass fibers, commonly partnered with rubber infill. The “length” of this grass is known as its pile height and can be manufactured at different lengths. Any landscape edging can be used with this grass, serving more as a decoration than a barrier.
Strength, Depth, and Size of Your Landscape Edging Matters
Your landscape edging will need to meet the standards of the job, depending on what exactly that job is.
Strength of the edging material refers to its ability to stand tall and provide structure to the mulch or soil in the assigned garden bed. If you install a weak edging material up against 4 inches of mulch, the edging will start to lean and possibly even collapse due to the pressure and weight of the mulch. The mulch will then have an escape route to wander onto your lawn, rather than staying where it’s meant to be, in the garden bed.
If you know you don’t have much to secure with your edging, then a weaker edging will be suitable, but still rather “temporary.” As mentioned before, you will need a deep edging material for a deep-rooted grass to prevent the root system from creeping under your garden bed. A shallow edging material can be used for a more shallow root system because it doesn’t need to guard but only about 3 inches of depth, rather than 6 inches.
The size of landscape edging material goes hand-in-hand with strength and depth. If you find yourself needing a taller edging material to guard the garden bed from naturally taller grass, you’ll also need it to have some depth to keep it stable to provide the necessary strength. The width can also be classified under the size of the material, making it more durable and less likely to crack under pressure. Imagine a plastic landscape edging... You have a tall grass growing in your lawn with several layers of mulch in your garden bed. You will need the edging to dig deep enough into the ground to secure the portion that is above ground guarding the garden bed from the tall grass, as well as sturdy enough to withstand the constant pressure of the mulch being pressed against it.
As you can see, there are many considerations to think about when choosing your landscape edging material. Once you decide on function, desired maintenance level required, your budget and your type of grass or foliage, the decision should become easier.