Steel edging is one of the simplest forms of edging to install, but it can still be a chore. Poorly installed steel landscape edging looks wobbly and uneven or fails to separate yard areas effectively. There are a few tricks that will help you choose the right type of edging for your area, making the task less arduous, ensuring smooth curves or straight lines and preventing soil or mulch from escaping from bed areas.
Choose Edging with Safety Tops
Many varieties of metal edging come with plastic-dipped tops or rolled tops to keep the sharp steel edge from harming children or pets. Avoid uncoated edging with a straight-up top. Steel eventually corrodes and/or rusts, and that top edge is one of the first areas to become jagged.
Mark the Edge Lines
Mark curving bed areas with landscaper's paint, a rope or a water hose before installing edging. Steel edging curves very nicely, but long, smooth curves are easier to achieve if they're already marked out. Straight edges should be marked out with stakes and string.
Soak the Area
Slightly damp soil will help you insert the edging and the stakes more easily. Water the area thoroughly the day before installation, or two days before if your soil holds water a long time. If you water right before you try to drive the edging in, you'll be dealing with a muddy area while you work.
Steel edging should come notched at the ends and have stakes to drive it in and hold it in place. Make sure that you overlap the ends at the notches, then push the stake in at the joint. Use a hammer or wooden mallet to drive in the stakes if necessary. Stake each joint only partially at first, then go back and drive the stakes all the way in.
Set Edge at the Correct Depth
If you're using edging to separate a planting bed area from the lawn, the top of the edging should be about 1 inch above the lawn soil line. The planting bed area can taper down farther, so that it is 2 to 3 inches below the top of the edging. The space accommodates the mulch in your bed without letting it spill into the yard. If you purchase 6-inch-deep steel edging, it will stay in place with the bed soil 3 inches below. Four-inch-deep steel edging needs at least 2 inches buried in soil on both sides to remain stable.
Avoid Play Areas
While steel edging does come with safety tops, your best bet in play areas for children is to choose a different type of edging. Steel will eventually corrode and rust, even with curved or plastic-dipped tops, creating a hazard for children. Alternative edging options are plastic, polyboard, wood, concrete, stone and brick.