Give your lawn or garden curb appeal with a crisp, clean, eye-pleasing edge.
By Sarah F. Ehrhardt
People often ask me if garden edging’s worth the time and money when it keeps popping out of the ground and getting caught in the lawn mower. I like edging. A properly installed barrier between lawn and garden creates curb appeal, a pleasing line, and keeps grass from creeping into planting beds and mulch from spilling out.
You don’t even need to buy edging material for your garden. You can get beautiful definition and curb appeal with just a well-sharpened flat-nosed shovel—and some muscle.
Start with a Trench
Your first shovel cut forms the outer edge of the garden bed. Push straight down, about 6 inches. Then angle your next cut, from inside the bed, downward to meet the bottom of your first, and remove the soil. This wide trench, tapering to a narrow base, will last about a year before you need to maintain it.
Or you can buy a more permanent barrier for your garden landscape, like common black plastic edging. You’ll avoid most problems by choosing good material and installing it right.
Don’t buy garden edging that comes rolled in a box. Quality plastic edging is usually sold in 20-foot strips and it’s difficult to bend. Look for a sturdy, two-way lip at the base, and ridges for stability. Expect to pay about $1 per foot.
To install, first dig a trench around your garden landscape as described above. Make sure it’s not too narrow, or your edging will creep out of the ground after a frost. Place the edging snugly against the trench’s outer, straight wall, leaving room to tamp it in.
Now, with the top rounded part of the edging just above the soil line, pack the soil you removed in digging the trench against the ridges and base lip. Your edging will be straight, secure and low enough for your mower to zip over without damage.
For a different look for your garden landscape, consider granite pavers, fieldstone cobbles or bricks. Treated wooden landscape timbers are available, but I think plastic and stone look nicer and provide better curb appeal in home landscapes, and last longer, too. Larger products, like 10-inch fieldstone cobbles, tend to be more stable than small bricks. Keep materials consistent with your style, and use only one or two types in an area.
Prep the area for these materials by removing the sod and laying a crushed limestone base at least 2 inches thick. That builds a level, smooth edge, and slows grass and weed growth in your garden. Landscape edging is a finishing touch worth doing well in any garden.
Sarah F. Ehrhardt, our guest garden expert, holds a bachelor’s degree in horticulture and has 25 years of experience in landscape design. She still loves to turn the soil and watch plants grow.