Effective edgings between lawns and vegetable or perennial gardens keep grass and flowers in their rightful places. They reduce maintenance tasks and create a tidy appearance in the garden. Gardeners will find a multitude of edging materials available, from inexpensive or free natural materials to costly custom-made, permanent fixtures. Effective edgings do more than keep grass out of flower beds. They should fit within the homeowner's budget, be relatively easy to install and maintain, and be aesthetically pleasing.
The old-fashioned Victorian edge used by 19th century gardeners still finds favor today. The edge is made by using a half-moon edger to dig a narrow V-shaped trench between the lawn and the beds. Wood edging products include railroad ties and landscape timbers. Plastic edging and metal edging provide a thin barrier that disappears into the landscape. More permanent options include stone, brick and molded cement edgings.
Edging materials vary in their durability. Victorian trenches are as effective as physical barriers at keeping grass out of flower beds, according to Fine Gardening magazine, but they need yearly maintenance to retain a crisp edge. Plastic edgings are probably the least durable, and tend to crack or heave in cold weather, while heavy duty, commercial metal edging lasts for years. Even rot-resistant or pressure-treated wood edging weathers, rots or cracks. Stone and brick edging is fairly durable, especially if it has been mortared, while molded cement edgings are almost indestructible.
When it comes to cost, the Victorian edge is the clear winner. It's hard to beat free. Plastic edging is usually the next most economical edging material, followed by wood. Metal edging costs a bit more, although homeowners can save money by installing it rather than hiring a landscape company. Brick, stone and molded cement cost the most, and usually require professional installation.
When selecting an effective edging, consider your personal taste as well as the style of the home. Molded cement or brick edgings are well-suited to a formal, traditional home and landscape, while wood timbers or stone look charming next to a farmhouse or cottage. Wood timbers create a very angular look and are somewhat difficult to install. Choose metal, stone or Victorian edges for sweeping, rounded beds.
All edging materials are fairly effective at keeping weeds and grass at bay, especially when combined with landscaping fabric or mulch. Grass and weeds may eventually grow up through the cracks in un-mortared bricks and stones, while plastic edgings may slide out of place. Another consideration is that of mowing and trimming around edgings. Victorian edgings are very simple to mow around because no physical barrier exists. Metal edgings are also fairly easy to maintain. Choose metal edging with a plastic or rubber guard to protect bare feet. Trim around wide edging materials with a hand trimmer.