Landscape Edging

What’s the best way to create nice garden borders?

The very easiest and most beautiful way to separate your garden and landscaping areas from your lawn is to cut clean lines with an edging tool, remove the excess sod, and fill in with mulch.

Visit any botanical garden, and this is exactly what you’ll see. No plastic fences, no metal tubing, no flag stones. Edging materials deteriorate over time, and they require hand trimming. Who has time for that?

A crisp, uncluttered edge clearly defines space. If you do nothing else to your landscape, this one step will make it look fabulous and well-tended.

Even in winter, beautiful lines in your landscape make a dramatic difference. Especially when snow falls. The effect is subtle and quietly elegant.

One summer, I had an edging “party” with a friend at her gorgeous antique house in town. Let me tell you, it burned a lot more calories than going out to lunch, and we thought it was so gratifying to see the instant results.

Before we started the edging project.

Cutting and removing turf grass (lawn)

The foundation area is planted with lovely hosta, Solomon’s seal, hydrangea, and more.  But you can see that the planting bed ran right up against the turf grass.

Cutting into the turf grass to create garden edging.

We began by using the edging tool to cut a gentle, sweeping line about one foot away from the edge of the plants.

After we removed the turf grass/sod (lawn) between the cut edge and the garden plants.

Next, we removed the strip of sod between the cut line and the plants (we used a three-prong hoe, which pulled it up easily).  Then we went back over the cut line again with the edger to make it extra clean and sharp.

The completed edging after we filled in with mulch.

Adding mulch

After that, we talked to neighbors who came over to see what we were doing.  Then our friend walked by with her new baby, and needless to say, we dropped everything.  So, we scheduled another get-together later that week to fill in the mulch.

I’m sure you’ll agree that the final result is really striking, and it’s so easy to maintain.

Another view of the completing edging project.

About once a year, you have to go back over the lines with a sharp edging tool and add a bit more mulch.  You do want to keep the mulch bed level a little higher than the turf, which helps the mower pass more easily.

The only real downside to this edging method is that it is highly addictive, and you’ll find yourself working on it when you are supposed to be doing other things.

Many thanks to my friend for taking these photos and lending me her beautiful home and landscape for this demo!

The post previously appeared on The Simple Landscape blog.


Elizabeth Douglas is the founder of Pocket Meadows. She holds a degree in landscape architectural studies and is a member of the NY State Nursery & Landscape Association.

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