Garden Edging Ideas
Even a cottage garden with overflowing flower beds and an informal, free-flowing design benefits from the sharp lines provided by landscape edging. A clean edge is pleasingly eye-catching, but garden borders also help ensure that lawns and flower beds don’t invade one another in the landscape.
Here are some landscape ideas for edging options and landscape borders.
Why Create Edges?
A garden offers multiple ways to incorporate any type of edging.
Edging is an important element in defining garden beds and ensuring your mower or weed eater doesn’t gobble up your flowers. It’s useful in keeping mulch where you want it, but edging also enhances a garden, defining paths or visually linking one area of the garden with another.
All the famous gardens in the world make extensive use of edging to delineate discrete areas and to guide the eye to focal points.
Interestingly, small gardens can especially benefit from defining discrete garden “rooms” using edging; most landscape designers know that dividing any space into a few smaller spaces makes the overall area appear larger. This is achieved partly due to the element of surprise and discovery: “Where does that path go?” or “What’s behind that rock wall?”
Hardscape Edging Materials
Consider your existing garden design before choosing a type of edging. Your budget is another important consideration. While you may yearn for a natural stone as edging, your pocketbook might be more likely to afford brick or plastic edging.
Bricks are marvelous in landscape borders for many reasons. They are usually more budget-friendly than natural stone, and they provide a high-quality and long-lasting option. They are easy to work with and require no concrete or mortar. Use a rubber mallet and a level to ensure they are straight and well-set.
One option is to lay them down next to one another, side to side, for an 8-inch deep edging. Set them so their surface is at ground level, so you can easily mow if they border a lawn.
Alternatively, dig a shallow trench and set them upright in it for a higher, more visible edging.
Concrete or Stone Edging
Concrete edging is available in a wide range of designs from red, scalloped stones to gray stones in various geometric shapes. Often, it mimics the look and feel of clay brick or real, natural stone.
If you choose concrete edging blocks, purchase all you need at one time because color can differ among concrete batches.
Cobblestone edging is a classic rock edging option, popular in both formal and cottage gardens. These are usually irregular squares that provide a natural look and pleasing form.
Small flagstone pavers are another option that provides a classic look. These range widely in color and thickness.
Wood edging materials are vast. You can score cedar or redwood planks that might have been discarded from someone’s old deck or leftovers from a building project.
Avoid using railroad ties treated with creosote, which can leach into the soil.
You can also purchase wood edging of various types at garden or landscape centers. The most common is a half-log design.
Plastic or Recycled Rubber Edging
The cool thing about plastic edging is that you don’t need to dig a trench to set it into the ground. Instead, use a rubber mallet to pound in spikes that secure it in place. Generally, plastic edging is also flexible, so you can bend it around curves, unlike something like brick, which enforces mostly straight lines.
Recycled rubber edging isn’t for everyone, and it can look like rubber, although some products are attractive. Often landscapers prefer it for use underneath fences. It also gives you an opportunity to incorporate recycled materials.
Using Plants as Organic Edging
Use plants! Low-growing plants make marvelous edges. Here are some possibilities:
- Sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima, zones 5 to 9): Fragrant white flowers appear on a low-growing annual groundcover that reaches 3 to 8 inches high.
- Candytuft (Iberis sempervirens, zones 3 to 8): White flowers grace this perennial plant that grows 6 to 12 inches high.
- Stonecrop (Sedum spp., zones 5 to 9): These perennial succulents grow between 6 to 12 inches high.
- Moss phlox (Phlox subulata, zones 3 to 8): This perennial plant produces pink, purple, white, blue or bi-color flowers. It grows 3 to 6 inches tall.
- Kansas State Research and Extension: All About Edging
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: Landscape Edging Materials
- Better Homes & Gardens: 8 Inexpensive Garden Edging Ideas to Make Your Yard Look Sharp
- University of Tennessee Extension: Twelve Common Landscape Mistakes
- Home for the Harvest: 50+ Low Growing Perennials for Garden Edges and Borders
- Gardening.org: 11 Low-Growing Perennials for Borders, Walkways, and Filling in Spaces
I garden in the Pacific North west, previously Hawaii where I had an avocado orchard. I have a Master Gardeners certificate here in Eugene, Oregon.