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This is a great project to tackle in the spring, once the ground has dried out. Just be mindful of any plants that haven’t yet poked through the soil. You don’t want to accidentally build something overtop! If you have old bricks, stone, or wood laying around, you don’t even have to leave your garden to get materials.
Why add landscape edging to a garden?
- Aesthetically, they keep the garden neat and tidy.
- Also referred to as a mowing border or mowing strip, flat landscape edging creates a nice boundary between grass and garden. A flat border will allow a lawnmower to cut the grass at the edges, meaning you can eliminate the step of using a string trimmer.
- Garden borders separate your garden into “rooms.”
- Edging materials can prevent plants from creeping into another area of a garden or a pathway.
- You don’t have to go along the garden with an edger every year (though that in itself is a landscape border idea).
- A garden border keeps pathways clearly defined, and if paths are filled with pea gravel or mulch, it keeps the material where it should be and out of the garden.
- It can keep people out of a certain part of the garden, too, if necessary.
- Edging can define a small area, such as where a tree is planted, or a special plant.
Choosing materials for garden borders
The length of your garden that you want to define and the materials will determine the cost. It’s a good idea to figure out what your budget is ahead of time. Think of your garden’s style and colour scheme. I have a lot of cool colours in my front garden, so I chose grey pavers with a touch of pink in them for my landscape border.
A measuring tape can be used to measure out a straight line. To determine the amount of materials you need for a curvy area, use a rope to outline the space and then a measuring tape to determine an accurate length. For bricks, divide the length by the width of a brick measurement. Order a few extra, just in case.
Of course you can get creative and use materials you already have or find the materials to make your own. I love upcycling ideas. Do you have old bricks or pavers hiding behind the shed? When we went to our local landscaping/dirt depot searching for edging ideas, my husband and I found square-ish pavers that were the perfect shape and colour. They were discounted because they originated from another garden. I guess this place acts as a reseller, too. We painstakingly counted out what we needed and loaded them into the car!
Digging a space for your edging material
A good garden spade should do the trick of slicing through turf grass. A garden edger could help to get you started on a small trench, but you’ll need a shovel to scoop the soil of a wider area. When digging around your garden to anchor the bottom of a taller border or to secure a single level of bricks or stones, dig a trench a few inches wider on either side of your brick or stone. Set the soil aside, on a tarp or in a wheelbarrow. This will be used to fill in the gaps on both sides of the material after it’s been dug in.
Inspiration for landscape borders
Look to neighbourhood gardens and public gardens for garden border ideas. You may just find something innovative and cool that you haven’t seen before. Some of the ideas gathered here include paving stones, wattle (on my DIY “to make” list!), concrete, steel, plastic, and bricks and rocks.
How to create a crisp edge between grass and garden
If you have an existing garden that you’re neatening, move the soil away from the border of the grass. Use your edger or spade to clean up the line and redefine your edge.
If you are creating a new edge, for example if you’re widening a garden, use your edging tool or spade to cut. Use your foot if you need to, and drive it into the soil, as deep as it will go. Use it to lift the turf away, which will leave a nice clean edge.
Create landscape edging with paving stones
In my book, Gardening Your Front Yard, I wanted to include a mowing border project. I had planted a border of perennial tulips and other spring bulbs that went a bit awry because the grass grew into the garden area, and it was hard to pull it out around the bulbs as they grew. My husband used those aforementioned recycled pavers to create the edging. He installed the landscape border, but we then decided we wanted a path, as well.
Wattle landscape border
I love the tidy yet rustic look of wattle edging. Willow is a very pliable, easy material to use. It’s worth noting The Lovely Greens has a great DIY on using pruned raspberry canes to make a wattle border. With this idea you may need to adjust or replace some of the sticks occasionally. But overall, wattle brings a unique look to the garden.
Create landscape borders from rocks
This idea is not as neat and tidy as, say, lined up pavers, but rocks are a nice way to outline a woodland garden or backyard shade garden. You’ll just have to keep on top of weeding around them.
Garden border ideas for poured concrete
Poured concrete creates a very permanent, definitive border around a garden. It allows you to add a crisp, neat edge. The concrete also serves as a nice barrier between the lawn and the garden soil. You’ll want to keep it low to the ground—no more than one inch above grade. You can make your own straight or curvy lines using wooden stakes and hardboard. Special moulds even allow you to get creative and add a pattern.
Garden edging made from clay flue liners
These clay flue liners are like concrete blocks—they offer extra planting space, while providing the structure of a garden border. The one issue with clay, if you live in a northern climate, is the potential for it to crack eventually from the freeze/thaw of the winter.