Clean edging between lawns and flower beds improves the appearance of any garden, whether the homeowner prefers a rustic unstructured look or a sleek manicured one. All homeowners want to keep grass from invading flower beds and garden plants from invading lawns. To establish and maintain edging, gardeners opt for gas or electric trimmers and spend from $40 to $400, or they choose a manually operated edger, spending $15 to $100.
The simplest tool for creating a clean edge is a straight-backed spade, which is used like a shovel. Stepping on it will propel it into the ground. There are also spades with curved backs that are useful for certain kinds of digging but do not create straight lines. Their use will result in jagged edges around the lawn or flower bed.
A half-moon edger has, as its name implies, a blade shaped like a half-moon. This allows it to enter the earth more easily than a blade with a straight edge when you step on it, and also makes it easier to lift the tool out of the ground. Unlike the curved blade of some spades, the half-moon edger has a straight blade, giving a clean line to the edge. Unfortunately, half-moon edgers have fairly small blade areas, so, as with spades, they are labor-intensive when a gardener has a large area to edge.
Manual Edgers with Wheels
While edgers with wheels are still somewhat labor-intensive, the wheels allow a gardener to create straight lines and easily create curves in edging as well. A rotating circular blade does a good job of cutting through the earth. Additionally, the edger allows you to see the line it is making as you roll it along. While not as expensive as gas or electric trimmers, the manual edger cuts only two inches down, and additional work is needed with a spade if a gardener wants a deeper edge.
Gas and Electric Trimmers
House and garden specialist Bob Vila notes that what most people call "weed whackers" are, in fact, all-purpose trimmers. When they are sufficiently powerful, these gas- or electric-powered tools work as edgers as well. These trimmers feature fast-spinning plastic line that cuts weeds, rotating plastic disks or metal blades.
Some of the least expensive models with plastic lines don't cut the edges of the grass or weeds, but rather pull them, leaving a ragged edge line. Very powerful, gas-driven trimmer models, which cost hundreds of dollars, cut cleanly and have wheels for rolling along the edge of the lawn to create a very straight line.