Garden edging is not only for decoration. It is also invaluable for keeping weed trimmer lines and lawn mower blades away from delicate plants and keeping grass from growing across and into beds. It also serves to outline and define spaces within the garden. Almost anything can serve as edging as long as it is tall enough to be clearly seen, so thinking outside the box should inspire a number of choices for your garden.
This may seem a strange choice, but glass is actually quite a sturdy material. Empty bottles of all kinds may be used, but wine bottles make an especially attractive border, and they are constructed of heavy glass. Other beverage bottles work well, too. Just dig a shallow and narrow trench at the edge of the space you wish to define. Insert bottles upside down to at least 1/3 the depth of the bottle and backfill the trench. Ask friends and neighbors to save bottles for you or go to a local recycling center for materials.
Rustic Wood Edging
If you are lucky enough to have a woodlot (or access to storm-downed trees), try cutting small (2 to 3 inches in diameter) branches or saplings into 12-inch-long pieces. Sharpen one end of each piece and pound them into the ground in a row around the perimeters of garden beds, leaving roughly half the length above ground. This stockade style edging is durable and attractive and lends a rustic feel to the garden.
To control invasive plants such as bamboo and horseradish, it is necessary to create a solid, below-ground, impenetrable barrier. Metal edging strips work well, and they are cost effective in the long term. However, they are not especially pretty and may be dangerous around children or pets because of their sharp, exposed edges. Solve both problems by adding a wood edge in front of the metal barrier edge after it has been set in place. Paint or seal dimensional lumber and cut it to convenient lengths for your beds. Attach 12-inch-long sharpened pickets (stakes) to the boards and pound them into the ground until the boards are seated about 3 inches above the soil surface. Make sure the metal edging does not protrude above the boards to prevent accidental cuts.
Create a metal barrier edge as with the combination edging, but instead of boards, set trellis (wood or plastic) strips in front for decorative effect. Trellis material may be placed without the use of metal barriers but will not control invasive grasses quite as well because of its open latticework.
Perhaps the most indestructible and enduring edging is stone or brick. If you have native stone, it may even be free for the gathering, but if not, you may be able to salvage second-hand materials by scrounging through construction or demolition sites (with permission, of course). The design can be as simple as laying the bricks or stones along the edge of the bed, or you can set them partway in trenches prepared for the purpose. To Build a Garden explains one method for professionally setting bricks in sand.