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Bamboo edging border panel.

The purpose of using planting bed edging or edger or border is to separate the flower bed, shrub bed or groundcover area from lawn grass and keep grass out of the planting bed; garden edging may also be used to outline and define a specific area in the landscape. Flower bed edging and borders help contain mulch and prevent it washing off onto the lawn or adjacent paving. When installed next to a lawn area, the edging directs your mower away from precious flowers and also protects them from weed trimmer damage. There are many good reasons to use an edger to border your flower bed, and there are many different kinds of edging available like the bamboo edging, willow edging, Log Edging, and more

Garden Edging Style Tips and Pointers

Edging is related to your overall landscape design and layout of hardscapes and plantings. If your landscape is a formal design you will want planting areas or flower beds with straight edges and geometric shapes. These are easily edged with standard materials.

If your landscape design is informal, you will have curves. These require an edging that is flexible or is installed in short increments so it can be fitted or formed to shape. When you lay out the beds, use sweeping curves rather than squiggles. This will result in a more pleasing design and make edging and subsequent maintenance easier. Bamboo rolled edging will be good for this type of edging if you like the look of bamboo.

The edging can either be unobtrusive and nearly invisible or it may complement the flower bed or add a decorative element to the landscape. This is a matter of personal preference.

Garden Edging that Works: Functional Requirements

In functional terms, the edging should keep the lawn grass out of the flower bed. It should be high enough to keep mulch in the bed. The edging should stay in place and be trouble free. And it should be designed and installed so that it does not frost heave if you live in a cold winter area. Finally, you may prefer an edging style that allows you to run your mower wheel on it and mow completely along it, thereby omitting the need for weed trimming after each mowing.

Different Types of Garden Edging or Border

There are pro’s and con’s to every bed edger or border material, ranging from cost to looks to durability. Here are some things to think about in making your choice.

The least expensive and sometimes most effective edging can be achieved if you:

bulletTake advantage of an existing edge such as a walk or drive and planting right up to it.
bulletLeave a bare earth barrier between planting area and lawn to serve as a mowing strip
bulletCut edge by hand with a flat spade, half moon edger, trencher, or power edger
bulletSet out a line of stones, clam shells, cedar shakes, slate shingles, etc.
bulletEdge the bed with concrete, bricks, slates or pavers laid flat to form a mowing edge
bulletLine bed with landscape timbers or railroad ties (not suggested for vegetable gardens)

Purchased pre-made edging is available in garden centers and home improvement stores. There are many different kinds to pick from including:

bulletRolls or strips of flexible edging, roughly a four inch wide length of plastic or aluminum, should be dug down into the soil and held in place with pins. Inexpensive and popular. e.g. rolled bamboo edging, Log Edging,
bulletReady made decorative edges; many styles and materials and price points – come in two to four foot long sections, stand on heavy duty spikes pushed into the soil, like  willow edging panel, bamboo edging border panel.
bulletReady made concrete edging – several styles/colors, straight or curved sections, heavy
bulletInterlocking pavers and blocks – many styles/colors available, can be expensive

"No Edging" Alternatives

If you prefer to avoid edging altogether, you could eliminate the lawn and cover the whole area with groundcover and planting areas, or perhaps encourage a wild flower meadow if local ordinances allow. Another option would be to use a raised bed instead of gardening at ground level.

By now you should have a good idea of the many uses for edging or edger in the landscape and garden, either along lawns, flower beds and borders, shrub beds, or ground cover areas; information about some of the benefits and drawbacks of different kinds of edging; and be ready to select and install the right edging or border for your garden.


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Last modified: August 28, 2014