Stake Driven, In-Ground or Hybrid Landscape Edging: How to Choose

Stake Driven, In-Ground or Hybrid Landscape Edging: How to Choose

Not everyone has the time (or energy) to maintain a natural – yet clean and distinct – lawn edge that will need attention every 2 to 3 weeks. Ultimately, if you go the “natural” way and want that clear line between lawn and walks or driveway, or lawn and flower beds or shrubbery, that demand is going to be your reality.

But the good news is that you have other choices!

Lawn and landscape edging products enable creation of a permanent (or semi-permanent, depending on the edging option chosen) barrier between the lawn and surrounding areas.

String trimmer being used to trim the weeds around a tree.

Additionally, lawn and landscape edging products help reduce the effort needed to maintain those clean lines.

Furthermore, if the edging material is chosen and installed carefully, it can be fairly attention (and worry!) free for some time. The three primary types are above ground, stake-driven or in-ground.

Some of the most common landscape edge options include:

  • Bricks, pavers and timber (above ground)
  • Some types of lattice-fencing and some plastic roll edging or steel edging products (stake-driven)
  • Other fencing and plastic or steel edging, as well as brick or block edging that is buried at the landscape edge (in-ground)

Let’s discuss those three basic landscaping edge types in greater detail…

Above Ground Landscape Edging

Above ground landscape edging is probably the simplest of your landscape edge options. The reason it’s a simpler choice is in the very name—this type of edging is merely placed on the ground, without trenching or digging deeply into the earth. Yet, by creating a barrier between the lawn and its surroundings, it helps to maintain a distinction.

stone paver landscape border

If earthen bricks and/or pavers are used, they’re often installed traditionally by staggering the individual units and then applying mortar between them to create a “wall.” If manufactured or synthetic landscape bricks are blocks are selected, then they typically include notches for joining them together.

While the above ground option can obviously be easier and sometimes, seem more attractive or appealing, it’s definitely not a “perfect” choice. Since no part of this edging is buried below the surface, the spreading roots of grass will enable it to sprout and grow below and around the divider and even in between if there are cracks or spaces.

Stake-Driven Landscape Edging

Most stake-driven landscape edging is man-made – synthetic – and comes in units, segments/pieces or rolls. Common materials are plastic or steel. The side that goes into the ground will usually have stakes, spikes, corrugation or even just a sharp edge, to penetrate the earth more easily.

above ground colmet metal edging installation

The quality and strength of this type of landscape edging can vary widely, depending on the exact plastic or steel used in the product. Some of the steel landscaping edging products – such as those manufactured with COR-TEN steel, can be very heavy-duty, yet still malleable, and even somewhat weather-resistant. Over time, COR-TEN steel does oxidize, but nicely—to a handsome patina. However, if that is not desired, this steel can also be pre-sealed before use.

To install stake-driven landscape edging, you’ll dig a trench first for the greatest security and stability of your product. The depth of the trench should be based on the root-depth of your specific grass type. Generally speaking, you want your trench to be deeper than the root length (the depth that your grass’ roots will extend into the ground). However, for shallow root grasses, you will still want your trench to be deep enough so that your edging doesn’t extend so far above the ground that it becomes a tripping hazard.

Once the trench is created at the desired depth, the edging is set in and then hammered with a mallet or wood block and mallet, to drive it into the ground. The pieces, segments or units will commonly be created to bend where and when necessary or desired. Alternately, many can be molded to do so. Connection isn’t always necessary—sometimes the edges will just butt up together. On the other hand, some products will have specific connectors for a more secure installation.

In-Ground Landscape Edging

below ground grass edging

In-ground landscape edging is usually much more time-intensive and sophisticated to install. Really, any of the aforementioned landscape edging products can be used in-ground. The primary difference will be that a deep hole will be created to almost-totally bury the divider. You will definitely want to keep the units or segments as close together as possible to prevent weeds from growing between, as well as to provide the most seamless and clean divider.

EdgeRight properly installed along monkey grass and paversWhile those are the main types of landscape edging, every now and then there will be hybrid types you may come across that have components of the different styles, in one product. This is true with our steel edging – the Edge Right Metal Edging system, for example, where the entire 4 foot strip can be hammered in to the ground if desired. A “hybrid landscape edging system” can be advantageous because it can meet the needs and desires of those who like aspects of both the stake-driven and in-ground landscape edging options.

Thus, perhaps the greatest key to making the best choice among the landscape edging options, is making the best choice for you, your lifestyle, the type of visual aesthetic you’re trying to achieve and the type of grass you have – or plan to have – in your lawn. If you keep all of these factors in mind, do your research and then make your selection, you should find a solution that you will be happy with for years to come.

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