edging requires a straight-edge spade and digging.
Sometimes other materials may be needed. Brick
pavers, or strips of aluminum and rubber edging
can be employed. Large paving stones, pictured
here, are another option.
summer when I couldnít finish weeding an 80-foot-long
border of shrubs and perennials, my mother ó an avid
English gardener ó took a good long look before she
sighed and gave me this advice: If you donít have time
to weed, clean up the edge where the soil meets the
grass. Creating a nice, crisp outline ó making a sharp
V- or L-shaped cut with a straight-edge spade to
separate lawn from soil ó is like tidying up your
house for company when you canít give it a thorough
cleaning. A defined edge reads like a well-cared-for
garden, even if thereís thistle growing among the
front edge is so important to the overall first
impression of the garden," says Karen Moore of
Coventry Gardeners in Westmont, Ill. "I consider
the front edge to be the first row of plants as well as
the interface to the lawn. If the front edge looks
great, other imperfections further back are easily
prefers a natural spaded edge over plastic or metal.
"This is especially true when plastic and metal
heave out of the ground and become a crooked mess,"
she says. This typically happens during the
freeze-and-thaw cycles that take place in northern
climates during late winter.
designer Kim Kaulas, of Chicago, often uses a spaded
edge as well. "Itís unobtrusive, and the plants
remain the star of the show," Kaulas says.
"However, with projects where Iím edging loose
material like gravel, I like to use metal because itís
also unobtrusive, and it seems to stay put pretty well,
not heaving up over time."
homeowners doing their own edging, place the spade
perpendicular to the soil, slice straight down or on a
slight angle and move the soil and any bits of grass
onto the border. Youíll want to break up those clods
of soil and remove the grass and roots to the compost
pile. A few times during the growing season, the edge
can be trimmed with a mower or weed whacker to keep that
Steve Ruppert of Borden Landscaping in the south suburbs
says that homeowners who dig a straight edge along their
beds and borders should consider using (wood) mulch on
the beds. "If you put down rock (small landscape
stones), it will get into the lawn." If you prefer
using small landscaping stones for mulch, then wood,
metal or flagstone would be a better edging material to
keep the stones from rolling into the lawn. Much of
Ruppertís landscape work involves natural edging, but
flagstone and bull-nosed or interlocking cement pavers
are also popular with his clients.
can often do stone or brick edging themselves if theyíre
handy," Ruppert says, "but if you have curving
natural lines, the bricks will need to be cut so they
fit together properly." If your beds donít have
straight lines, you may want to consider hiring a
professional to install the edging. "Putting down a
run of bricks is a bit tricky because you want them to
be level so the mower can run over them, and it takes
skill to fit them together so you donít get weeds
coming up in between them."
do-it-yourselfers, Kaulas also has some cautions.
"A lot of homeowners think that adding a brick or
stone border will contain the grass; it wonít,"
she said. They will need a proper limestone base, she
said. Otherwise the bricks and stones that are set on
the soil will eventually shift. "And the grass
gradually creeps in under or around the stone, and the
edging will have to be redone."
consideration is how much sun the area receives.
"If the garden is shaded, and the adjoining lawn is
spotty, a spaded edge does not work to make a sharp
line," Moore says. "In those cases I use stone
or pavers to delineate the edge."
do-it-yourselfers purchasing from big-box stores, expect
to spend about $1.25 to $1.50 for a 12-inch-long
bull-nosed cement brick edger or a tumbled Belgian
edger. Rubber edging costs $5 to $10 for a 4-foot-long
section. A 24-foot section of aluminum edging is $40 to
$50. Ground limestone or paver base, used as a
foundation under bricks and flagstone, costs $3 to $4 a
Susy Stone, of Naperville, Ill., has another idea.
"I really do not use edging in my gardens,"
Stone says. "I do try to get my husband to cut in a
nice edge, but that happens very rarely." In the
past she edged an herb bed with old bricks but found
they quickly deteriorated. "Really, I think that I
have not used any edging because I have always been
changing and enlarging the beds."
like a true gardener.