Most gardeners use garden edging to keep lawn and garden areas apart. You don’t want grass encroaching on the vegetable garden, and you don’t want garden soil and mulch tumbling out into the lawn. The wide variety of edging materials--shapes, sizes, colors and cost--allow you to make the edges of your garden visually interesting and in harmony with the overall design style of your yard.
Start with a Sketch
Use graph paper to design the lawn and garden shapes and mark where the edging will be. Straight edges look more formal. Curved transition areas are more visually interesting and give a feel of movement or flow to the landscape. Take a garden hose or string and outline your design on the ground. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different shapes.
Flexible 4-inch strips of metal or plastic are popular edging materials because of their ease of installation. They can be fitted around curved garden borders. The metal strips cost more than the plastic, but they come in different colors so you can make the border more aesthetically appealing than with plain black plastic. To install them, dig a narrow trench around the garden edge, deep enough so you can bury the strip to 1 inch above ground level. If you decide to change the size or shape of your lawn or garden, the strips are easy to pull out of the ground.
The Natural Look with Rock Materials
Many choices of rock materials are available for garden edging. Colorful pebbles or river rock, which has a mixture of colors, create a simple but elegant definition between lawn and garden. Make the border 2 to 3 feet wide. This gives you enough room to let flowers or vegetables grow slightly over the edge of the border, making it look more natural. Larger rounded stones of about 1 ½ feet in height placed side by side also give the garden edge a natural look.
Border and Pathway Combination
Flagstone is flat pieces of sedimentary stone usually cut in irregular shapes. This is a versatile material for edging the lawn, because it can be placed level with the soil so the lawnmower can pass over it, eliminating the need for edge trimming. It is also frequently used to make garden paths. By using flagstone, you can build your walkway through the garden and an edge for your lawn all at once.
Plants and Elevated Planting Beds
Ground covers like alyssum can be a transition edge between gardens and lawns. Alyssum’s lovely blossoms come in pink, purple, lavender or white. This edging style creates a soft, seamless transition from garden to lawn, and alyssum is a low-growing plant, so it won’t visually compete with the flowers behind it. A raised planting bed next to the lawn creates its own border and allows you to make the plants in the bed more of a focal point because they are elevated. You won’t be able to get the lawnmower to the edge of the lawn, so you will need to have a string trimming device or lawn clippers.
If you want a rustic style edge, garden stores have cylindrical pieces of wood wired together to form sections. Split logs create this same look. Railroad ties are extremely durable and form a clean, neat line for a garden edge that is straight.