Garden lawns have to stop at some point, often causing a minor problem as to how to end or edge your garden with your lawn. Much will depend upon the style of your garden, but you will also have to take into account basic things like, the type of lawn mower you want to use, and even the basics of, how much time do you want to spend giving your lawn a neat finish!
It is not normally a good idea to simply end your lawn at the boundary of your garden edge; against a wall or fence. This will inevitably lead to either additional maintenance work - or an untidy finish, where the mower blades cannot quite get to the edges of the turf at the garden border edge.
There are many different ideas, ways and materials with which to edge the lawn. It is nearly always best if the grass border garden edging of the lawn is taken into account at the design and construction stage! This does not always happen, so you are then left with the frustrating task of finding suitable ideas on how edge to to the lawn. This is where we aim to help!
The Lily Pond at RHS Wisley Garden in UK. The lawn has a natural edge, and is nicely positioned slightly above the level of the paving - which allows for easy lawn mowing.
The reasons for lawn border edging are varied. Aesthetic appeal, ease of maintenance, safety and long term stability of the lawn being some of them. The importance to gardeners of lawn edging is such that huge areas of garden center displays are set aside for assorted garden edging, and some companies thrive - or at lease survive with patented lawn or garden edging their main - or even sole - product. Many articles have been written giving different ideas on lawn edging. This is one of them - but based upon experience rather than suppliers' press releases.
Sometimes, it is not the grass border that requires and edge, but rather, some aspect of the garden - usually a plant border edge - that need restraining. Shrubs and Herbaceous borders in particular can be a problem where they are set next to a lawn.
Whatever the problem, there will invariably be a simple solution (that might take a considerable amount of work) which will give you a satisfactory edge to your lawn - formal or informal, straight or curved.
Ease of mowing will often be a first consideration, where the existing layout/machine does not allow for clean cutting to the edge of the lawn - resulting in the laborious task of rigging up the strimmer to lop off those untidy seed stalks or tufts of uncut grass.
Over the years, I have been responsible for the maintenance of hundreds of miles of grass borders and there resultant garden edging. For the most part, those lawns have been happy to live side by side with shrub, and perennial borders, and also look neat and tidy around formal summer bedding schemes.
Lawn edging was rarely used - on the basis of "If it isn't broke; don't mend it" The lawn edges rarely 'broke' even in areas of high public usage, and in any case, that's the way it has always been!
The lawn edge was simply cut into the lawn using a half-moon cutting tool. It is normally capable of being pushed into the soil by hand - or on stubborn ground with the heel of a boot. The 'slice' was angled to give a strong edge to the lawn - and contrary to what is often written, I have never noticed any lawn edge deterioration to the grass - even in extreme drought conditions.
This method of grass border edging is more suited to lawns that are not based on sandy soils. As an added attraction for some areas, small pebbles were placed in the bottom of the 'trench' for ornamental effect - far better on informally shaped beds and borders than formal lines. It is a system of lawn edging that has stood the test of time around thousands of flower beds and borders in public parks and gardens.
This type of edge to the lawn has a natural look, and allows for low shrubs and perennials to arch over the edge of the lawn without being a nuisance. Again this is better achieved in informal areas and sweeping curves. This type of lawn edge is well suited to a wide range of lawn mowers (A consideration for some edging systems) including roller-powered motor mowers, hover mowers and also wheeled rotary mowers when approached in a forward motion. It can also be used to effect next to fence and wall bases - especially existing areas which are too costly and laboured to provide new edging.
A monthly 'hair-cut' trim with edging shears or a suitable strimmer keeps the edges looking neat and trim!
So, that's the old fashioned way of lawn edging. Let's now move forward and present the new ideas of lawn edging.
The last ten to fifteen years has seen an upsurge in the use, provision and design of new methods of lawn edging with several purposes in mind - other than simply restraining the lawn. The growth of the 'garden designer' industry has fuelled this growth - if not igniting it in the first instance. There is no doubt that a well defined lawn edge does much to enhance some garden designs.
A wealth of materials and ideas - specifically manufactured - or utilised from other construction uses often suited to application. None more so than concrete block paving paviors. These are often 'extended' from a block paving drive or patio - usually of the same pattern and colour, but also with contrasting styles.
Paviors, bricks and paving stones various are better installed at the construction stage - where the material and labour costs are more readily accepted - or absorbed!
This type of paved lawn edge in better laid at the same level as the finished lawn in most cases. There is also a case for them being set slightly below the level of the lawn. Much depends upon the type of mower that is going to be used for maintenance.
Whatever, it is important that the same level of construction expertise id employed to that of patio building - even if not to the same materials specification. Normally a compacted sand bed of no more than an inch is suitable. It is IMPORTANT that the paviors are backed up from the read bed area with garden soil. Otherwise, ever time, the sand foundation can shift away from the paviors leaving and uneven surface. This in turn will lead to difficulty - and maybe damage - in subsequent lawn mowing activities.
Paviors such as these, can also be incorporated into existing lawn areas. the soil will normally be well compacted, and a spaded trench with an inch of sand a good base. Again, back up the paviors/bricks with well compacted soil from behind to prevent sand seepage. The paviors or bricks are best laid edge to edge rather and end to end for added stability. However, if used at the meeting point of wall and lawn, then end to end will be enough just to give a simple mowing strip.
This article did not set out to recommend certain systems or brand names for grass border edges. It is simply to give ideas - as in the images below. Hopefully the writing above will prepare better prepare you in your choice of lawn edge.
Many landscape systems available should not in fact be sold as lawn edge systems - but rather as garden or border separators, for that is what they are. used as lawn edging, they can often present you with problems that did not previously exist.
The images below are a selection of ideas for your garden edging project. Bear in mind the visibility of the various systems, and if you actually want an ornamental system - or simply an edge to make maintenance easier. What is good for one gardener or garden, will not necessarily suit others. Don't allow your garden designer to make a feature if your lawn edge - unless you want that. In many cases, a clean edge to the end of the lawn - and the start of the border is better - and more natural.
The garden edge systems and methods immediately below, all present problems when mowing the lawn - dependent of course in the standard of finish you desire. Foe ease of mowing, all of these types of border edge would require a mowing strip between the lawn and the border or bed. The raised separators do not allow for ease of maintenance - but these and assorted other bed edges are favoured by some.
In particular, it is now easy to allow for pebbles at the lawn edge. Even more of a problem, is the segregation of gravel from lawns where they are adjacent. In this instance, the gravel - normally a footpath of driveway - is always best set at least 2in below the lawn and separated by a good lawn edge system.
The concrete wall edging to the bed prevents mowing right to the edge of the lawn - A strimmer or hand shears would be required to finish the lawn off properly. Bull nose edges - concrete or timber, are good lawn edge systems for straight lines, and most hover mowers and some rotary mowers would be able to cut right into the edge of the lawn. The same is true of the raised edge around the tree bed.
Precast edging tiles are favoured by many, but as can be seen here, they present problems with cutting right to the edge of the lawn. The pebbles - whilst attractive in some applications - are not really suited as a good lawn edge idea. The ornamental railings are set back from the lawn edge, which seems to be simply the edge of the turf. The railing can be used to restrain shrubs and plants from encroaching, but is not suited as lawn edges for the scope of this article.
Curved edges are available from plastic, metal or even timber. This example could have made for neater maintenance if it has been set below the lawn surface. Likewise with the pond surround paving, isf it had been cut into the lawn and set lower than the lawn, it would not have presented problems at the mowing stage. The RolMarket edging presents and all-in raised separator edge, and a narrow mowing strip to give the best of both worlds.
The lawn edges below illustrated below all allow for the lawn to be set above the adjoining surface - beds and paths. All will retain the lawn and can be suited for straight or curved lawn edge application. A little bit concerned about the uncovered end of the first metal example from ExcelEdge. The end of this lawn edge would certainly need protecting against accidental cuts I think! Maybe finished at a wall, fence or on circular beds could be dovetailed.
The edge systems below are the basic lawn edge systems that have stood the test of time - and are particularly suited to installation on an established lawn. The plastic has a tendency to shatter after several years of service and UV light. The galvanised edge will need care not to scratch the zinc protective surface - or early rusting will result. The Smart Edge system from Suttons Seeds does a similar job and is suited to either repairing an existing lawn, or for inclusion at the construction stage.
The gorgeous border above is separated from the lawn by the addition of a footpath. This is an idea that could be utilised in many gardens - large and small. The lawn is set slightly above the footpath, thereby allowing for a lawn edge that can be cut with any type of mower - and rarely needs and secondary strimming operation!