Garden Edging

Martha Stewart Living, May 1998

 

Do You Know?

Using a long-handled edger will place less strain on your shoulder and back if its blade is kept sharp.

In the garden, edging defines spaces and separates grass from planting beds, ground covers, and walks. Raised above the soil level, edging prevents mulch from washing away, but laid flush with the surface, flat stones or brick become a time-saving mowing strip because stray grass can be kept in check with a quick shear.

Tall edging such as glazed tile or stylized stone will be definitive, whereas flat stone or level bricks produce a softer line. Bluestone and brick are both good choices for color and texture. Consider laying lengths of flat bluestone on both sides of a grass path, or set bricks halfway in the ground in a dogtooth pattern.

Lengths of thin quarried stone, several inches wide, create a gentle but firm division that can be easily mowed over. Bluestone, limestone, slate, and granite all work well.

Materials
Stakes
String
Edger (a long-handled sod-cutting tool with a flat, semicircular cutting surface)
Pick mattock or a spade (to dig the trench and remove dirt)
Tarp

Edging How-To
1. To ensure a straight edge along the planting bed, place two stakes at opposite ends of the bed and tie a string between them (about 6 inches above ground).

2. Using the string as a guide, cut a line a few inches out from the bed with an edger.

3. Remove the top layer of sod with the flat end of pick mattock or spade.

4. The depth of the trench depends on several factors: the thickness or height of edging material, where you want the edging to lie relative to soil line, and the depth of the supporting foundation. Because it won't be bearing a heavy load, sand makes a stable foundation for edging; 1/2 to 1 inch of sand is usually sufficient. While digging the trench, shovel the dirt onto a tarp so it won't accumulate on the grass or in the bed. Once the trench is dug, remove rocks from the bottom; if left in place, they could rise during frost heaves and push against the edging.

5. Shovel sand into trench, and smooth.

6. Lay the edging in place. When the grass gets shaggy along the edging, use garden shears to restore order.

 

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