A garden with a clearly defined border is a feature in any landscape. Borders can be put in place simply to define the transition from lawn to growing bed, or they can be more utilitarian, used to keep grass from spreading into the garden bed. Whether you choose to use a commercially available edging material, construct the border yourself or use plants to define the edges of garden beds, your yard will have clearly defined lawn and garden areas and a manicured look.
A common do-it-yourself method of constructing a garden border is to use bricks to line the edges. They can be laid on their sides, just as when constructing a building. Another way to use them is in soldier fashion, standing on their short ends. Simply bury the bottom third of each brick and allow the remainder to create a border above ground. Install the bricks right next to each other for a continuous border. For an even more unusual effect, put the bricks into the ground at 45-degree angles with each brick slightly overlapping its neighbor. The tops of the bricks that are above ground will form a pinked edge around your garden.
Commercial garden edging is available in a variety of sizes, colors and materials. The most inexpensive is plastic, approximately 4 to 6 inches wide and in strips 10 feet long and up. A slit is made in the soil at the edge of the garden bed with a shovel, and the edging is inserted, with its reinforced top edge above ground. Sections are connected using spikes or other connecting pieces supplied by the manufacturer. Other types of commercially available garden edging include individual plastic or wood pieces, which are flat and vary in width. They are pounded into the ground or installed in a manner similar to plastic edging. This type of edging is best used to prevent the spread of lawn grass into the garden bed.
To delineate the edge of a flower bed that butts up against a sidewalk, plant a row of low-growing flowers such as sweet alyssum or annual dianthus along the bed's perimeter. These short flowers will clearly define the border of the bed and contribute to its overall appearance.
For a vegetable bed, a row of marigolds is an excellent choice for the bed's perimeter. Marigolds exude a chemical from their roots that deters nematodes, a soil-borne garden pest that stunts the growth of garden vegetables like tomatoes. Choose a short marigold variety that grows less than 18 inches tall so they do not cast a shadow on your vegetables.