The use of landscape edging, if done properly, can reduce the time and effort any gardener takes to maintain the garden. Here are some options and thoughts for you to consider.
First, edging is normally used to “divide” one section of the garden from another. It’s important to think of it that way because there are some other kinds of edging other than the traditional ones.
Traditional Landscape Edging
The traditional edging beloved by English border gardeners is the use of an edging tool to cut a line between the lawn and the garden. This is a lovely “look” but a high maintenance activity in the garden.
There are different grades of plastic edging on the market and the problem is that beginners sometimes tend to make decision based on price. Cheaper is better. (note – I don’t garden this way but some folks do)
And this is where they get into difficulty.
Cheaper edging has several characteristics: the plastic is thinner (degrades in the sun faster) and not often as “tall” so the amount that actually goes into the ground is shorter (allowing grass roots to go underneath the edging) or it doesn’t come with enough holding stakes and easily bends out of shape or worse yet, pops out of the ground.
So cheaper isn’t necessary better. I have installed this in several garden areas in the past and wouldn’t touch the bargain stuff with a long pole after one gardener provided the cheaper stuff themselves, it and was never happy with it (or me) again. It didn’t matter that it was her decision, she believed I had installed it wrong because it broke in the sun quickly. Right – I told her it would but it was still my fault. Sigh.
The professional, heavy duty material will last for a longer time. The one thing you need to consider with a good plastic edging is to install on a hot sunny day if possible (lay the strips out in the sun to warm up) Or at the very least, allow the edging to warm up before you install it. It is usually thick enough that a bit of heat will make it far easier to bend and work with.
There are also plastic “boards” that you hammer into the ground. These interlock and some gardeners like the look of them. I don’t but then again, it’s your garden.
Aesthetics. I don’t want my landscaping edging to be the star of the garden so I want it to disappear after I’ve installed it.
This brown color landscape edging is well reviewed so it’s worth taking a look at.
Aluminum landscape lawn edging is more expensive than plastic, is slightly harder to install but it outlasts plastic seemingly forever.
You’ll go through a lot of plastic before you’ll even dent the aluminum.
The problem is that it can be tougher to find. The big box stores don’t often carry it because of the price. You’ll have to talk to your favorite garden center and beg them to order some for you.
There are a great many paving stone landscaping edging systems on the market now. These manufactured stone pavers work very nicely but grass does tend to invade through the cracks between stones or bricks.
This is expensive edging compared to plastic or aluminum but it can be extremely attractive if done properly. The easiest way to do is is to lay it down flush with the lawn to form a mini-walkway between the garden and the lawn. I’ve seen people put it on edge but this only creates a lot of maintenance.
When it’s on edge, you can’t mow the lawn right up to the edge of the garden. There’s always a bit of grass you can’t reach next to the edging and you have to use some kind of string trimmer to get it cut. If you put the pavers flush with the soil, you can run your mowing machine right over top of the edger and cut the grass right to the bed. No string trimming!
I note that manufactured stone is weather resistant and won’t usually crack in cold winters. Brick on the other hand will deteriorate quite quickly in areas that have severe winters.
It is possible to use wood landscape edging in various ways. The most common is the landscape beam – usually a 4×4 that is set on the soil line. The problem with this is the same as the stone, you can’ t mow over top of a beam sitting on top of the soil, you have to use a string trimmer to clean up the area. Putting the beam flush with the soil is the solution here.
In our case, we have had to construct raised beds (no soil in our garden area) so the weeds and grass really want to crowd up against those beds. To fight this off, we install either a horizontal landscaping edging – a wood plank laying on the ground next to the bed or we use some old roof shingles leftover from construction (that would have gone to the landfill) and lay them slightly under the beam and out onto the lawn area. I can mow right over top of the shingles so the lawn is well maintained next to the beams and I don’t have to use a string trimmer.
Those are the pro’s and cons of basic landscape edging. I hope it gives you something to think about.
This is not something you normally see in retail shops or box stores because of the price-point. The advantage is that it is very long lasting, doesn’t crinkle or bend out of shape easily. Here’s a source for some comparison shopping It is not as expensive as brick but more than plastic so it’s a halfway point that some people like.
The trick with all these things is getting the “look” you want. In my case, when I used to use this material, the “look” was to disappear. 🙂 (now I build raised beds because of our shallow soils.)
Note: fibreglass edging is NOT as flexible as plastic so if your designs have some radical corners, then you may want to avoid this material. It will handle 90-degree bends if the material is warmed up in the sun (a good trick for plastic too) but not happily anything more than that.
You can see I’ve used shingles on this trial flower garden bed construction to make it easier to mow around that square corner. I have flower pots on it flattening it down and will mulch over top of it to separate the beds from the grassed in strip.