Friday, January 9, 2009

How to make a free edge

No border is complete without an edge. Without a well defined edge, the grass will creep back into your bed and over a period of time undo all your hard work.

Edging material can be very cheap (and ugly) or very expensive and beautiful.

It all depends on the style you choose, if you have a formal garden with straight lines, you will have to invest in more expensive aesthetically pleasing edging material, like natural stone, concrete blocks made to look like stone.

If you have an informal garden like I have, with mostly mixed shrub borders and curves, you could do with a metal edge or plastic edge, or composite material edge.

Since I have a large area to edge, and have a tight budget, I choose to make a trench as an edge. The trick is to have the trench deep and wide enough to stop the grass roots from penetrating the garden beds. It also necessitates frequent edging with either a string trimmer or dedicated edger. Since I have both attachments, I edge weekly in summer with the string trimmer and use the edger when thicker roots have started invading the beds.

Here's how I make my trench. I lay out the border curves with a garden hose, use roundup to kill the grass on the inside. Once the grass is dead, I take my spade and follow the curves, I dig straight down and remove a one foot section of dead grass all along the edge. The spade I use has a pointed cutting edge that makes cutting the dead grass easier. I step onto the spade and sort of jump to cut deep enough to sever all roots. Once this foot long section is removed, I dig straight down on the live grass side and pile the dirt up onto the dead grass. This forms a small wall that will define my edge as well as keep water and mulch inside the bed. See picture at the start of this post.


  1. This is very similar to what I was taught to do when I worked for a professional landscaping company. Once the trench is established it makes mulching and maintaining so much easier. I prefer it to stone (or ugly fake stone from the hardware store). Please, for the sake of all things natural DO NOT use plastic edging!

  2. You are right, my very first plant I planted was a bare rooted rose I bought at Costco. I had nowhere to plant it, so I dug a hole in the grass, bought some cheap edging at Walmart. Man, I have to take it out, after so many times running over it with the lawn mower, it has come loose where its joined, a chunk has been chopped of and its looking really bad.