Gardening Blog

Gardening Blog: Edging Beds

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When youíve got everything where you want it in your garden and have lived with the results for a season so youíre sure, you might want to consider borders for your beds. They dress things up, keep your lawn from bleeding into your garden and visa versa and come in many styles and types, from casual to formal.

By Hand

The most common is made with your spade and consists of a cleanly cut edge on a 20 degree angle, the bottom of which is the lowest part of the bed. It forms a small trench around the bed and the soil is heaped up in the middle to promote drainage. A string line is used to keep the straight runs straight and cutting a pleasing curve needs to be learned. The off-cuts can be shaken free of soil and the turf and roots composted. The method is inexpensive, can be done by the gardener and if all the beds are finished the same way looks very professional. The downside is that you have to keep up with it or the ditches collapse, the grass encroaches and things look very messy, especially if part gets done and part is neglected.

Black Rubber and Metal

Rubber and metal borders come in convenient lengths about 8Ē deep and 8í long. A seam is cut into the garden edge and opened up with the spade blade, then the edging is pushed in, with the rounded part up and hammered into place with a rubber mallet so the material isnít damaged. The metal version comes as a roll or a number of pieces that are locked together and is treated the same way. Some versions have metal pins every so often which are driven into the ground and the border sits on top of the soil, not under it. This is a fairly easy product to use although itís a good idea to have a two person crew, one to cut the turf, one to insert the edging and pound it in. If itís well installed it keeps its place and stays intact. The metal works equally well and both give an edge for a weed whip to cut the grass away for a well manicured look. Both products can be expensive if they have to cover long distances and the rubber product should be overlapped about 8Ē and the rolls joined together with glue or bolts and washers. Nothing looks worse than a well installed border with gaps and unevenness between sections.


The popular paving solution can be used to make lovely formal bed edges. The stones can be used one deep, on edge or made into a mini-wall, two abreast. The on-edge idea works best with stones shaped like figure eights, where the top of the second stone lays down in the dip in the middle of the first stone and so on. If you are willing to commit to an actual wall, the varieties are only limited by your imagination, space and the size of your wallet. To insure longevity, either type must be built on a foundation of crushed stone and sand. The trench must fit your needs in width and hold at least eight inches of ĺĒ crushed stone below ground level. This is packed down tightly with a compacting machine. (Electric ones can be rented reasonably from your local rental. For big jobs, use gas). The sand is placed on top of the compacted stone to create a truly level surface and a base for the Lockstone. I would suggest that if your heart is set on this, you contact your local landscaping centre and have them build a section of the wall while you observe. They will be happy to do this if you guarantee to buy all your materials from them. Then, make your decision if this is a job for you. Of all the garden edges I feel are doable by a novice, this will need the most assistance and on site help. It is by far the most expensive of the four methods outlined in this article, but is also the best looking and enduring. Remember, the result is formal and you canít just pull it up casually if you decide you donít like it!

Box Hedge

For a closing suggestion, itís back to nature. If you are growing good sized beds of flowering plants with lots of open space around them, you might want to try making a box hedge fence. The shrubs are planted in a line, about a foot apart where ever you want the fence and then grow together. The living fence can then be trimmed by yourself to the appropriate height and width as it grows. You will need to invest in a good pair of manual hedge clippers for this purpose or an electric trimmer if the hedge is at all extensive but there is something very appealing about teaching yourself to shape living shrubs into a well kept miniature fence. This is an especially good idea along pathways, even if your garden isnít especially large. The box privet or like plants can be bought with variegated leaves and various colours as well. The downside here is you need two or three seasons of growth for the hedge to begin to assume itís final shape.

In Closing

Be sure to investigate the prices of things very carefully and make sure they fit within your budget. Prices vary widely depending on where you are. If you have to buy new tools to accomplish this task, especially clippers, make sure they are put away clean and oiled and sharpened each season, as hedge wood is very hard and cutting it well with dull tools is nigh onto impossible. If you are in an area where extremes of cold and warmth are present, get specific help from your garden centre to keep your Lockstone wall from lifting due to frost. This is a larger task than most dealt with in this series but the results are pleasing and will contribute a lot, to the making of a great garden.