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Beautify Your Edging
by Helen Yoest


Thanks to materials of similar size and color, this stone border has a very polished look. Bury stones 1 to 2 inches deep for a more natural, finished look. Photo by Helen Yoest.

Smaller, unique stones add a little whimsy to your garden edging. Photo by Helen Yoest.

A creative up-and-down pattern is a diffferent, unique look compared to an otherwise common stone edge. Photo by Helen Yoest.

V-notched edges add a clean, refined look. Photo by Susan Jasan.

Because the materials only have to be piled a few inches high, mortar isn't necessary with stone or brick edging. Photo by Helen Yoest.

Add a formal look to your garden's edge with laid brick edging. Photo by Helen Yoest.

Curved beds with echoing color and dazzling rhythm can make a big statement in the garden. Soft curves add interest and beauty, enhancing what would otherwise be a run-of-the-mill flowerbed, but curved beds often fall short on presence when they are frayed at the edges. Freshening up the edges of a garden bed is like adding the perfect pair of earrings to your favorite little black dress — it makes the look sparkle. 

Garden bed edging can be as simple as a cut where the turf shifts to hardscape materials, which will neaten the edge, whether temporarily or permanently. The addition of edging is often overlooked, but it adds value to the overall garden design. Without a crisp transition, a garden bed can look unfinished. Even a country garden, where a casual aloofness reigns, benefits from a finished edge. 

Edges will help contain the paving material you use and serve to visually unify other landscape and architectural features. The area where a bed ends and turf begins needs a transition for both aesthetic and functional purposes. A bed’s edge doesn’t just keep your garden tidy — it also holds back soil, defines lines, prevents mulch from migrating onto the lawn and prevents weeds from creeping into the bed. 

Many types of edging can be added in a single afternoon. Others, such as brick or boulders, can require a weekend or longer to complete. The simplest and easiest edge to create is making a V-notch with a flat-bladed spade into the abutting turf — that’s it!  

Other types of edging materials include brick, bender board, river stones, metal and wood. The edging chosen should complement the style of the garden and the home, as well as your budget. Keep in mind that spending more won’t necessarily give you better edging — V-notch edges are the least expensive option but that style is often found in landscapes of very formal, stately homes.

Most of my beds are edged with simple V-notched edges. The V-notched edge responds well to an edge trimmer, which helps maintain crisp lines. Each year, right before I mulch, I re-dig the lines, taking the dirt along the edge and heaping it about 6 inches back, tapering toward the freshly dug area. The area then receives a topdressing of mulch. 

Brick makes a lovely edge. I’m partial to brick-lined edges because my home in London had an oval-shaped garden with a brick-lined edge. It was simply perfect. Brick adds a classic look to any garden setting. If you are only edging your garden, mortar isn’t even necessary.   

Bender board offers an easy solution to adding sinuous curves to the garden bed. Today’s bender board is composed of recycled plastic and comes in colors to match your garden’s decor.  

Use locally sourced stones or rocks to give your garden edge a natural look. You may find some useable stones in your garden or get them from a friend. Like most things, skill is needed when trying to mimic nature. First, find the best face of the stone and place it with the showiest side up. Plan to bury the stone 1 to 2 inches deep to give it a more natural look.  

Metal edging has long been popular at botanical gardens and in commercial settings. A new trend has also emerged with designers using metal as their muse. With crisp, clean lines, metal complements both modern and classical designs.   

Common uses of wood range from branches placed along the lines of a bed’s edge to rustic timbers, all the way up to manufactured landscape timbers. Wood is inexpensive and easy to install. Bed edges are often neglected, but with simple installation and a little maintenance, bad bed edges can be a thing of the past.

Edging material serves a function far more important than just adding pleasing aesthetics to your garden — it keeps mulch and dirt in the flowerbed and the path materials on the path. Photo by Helen Yoest.

In this instance, the bricks are as much a material for building a raised bed as they are an edging. They also help bring the path together with the garden, enhancing the overall design of the landscape. Photo by Helen Yoest.


Excerpted from Gardening with Confidence®50 Ways to Add Style for Personal Creativity.
Photos by Helen Yoest and Susan Jasan.

Posted October 2012


Helen Yoest is a gardener and writer in Raleigh, NC.



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