Flower beds are easily invaded by surrounding grass and weeds. That’s why it’s crucial to invest in some sort of flower bed edging to provide protection.
Not only does edging for flower beds provide defense, it also creates a visual barrier between the lawn and the garden, as well as cuts down the required maintenance required to keep that crisp look.
While you want your flower bed edging to provide protection from grass and weeds, you will also want something that is attractive. An unappealing or unattractive edging could bring the wrong type of attention to your flower bed and could also degrade the beauty of the plants within the bed too.
Using garden edging products is by no means mandatory, but it is highly recommended. The best part about installing flower bed edging is that it can be done yourself, without having to hire a landscape professional to come out for the job. There are numerous different edging options, including different styles as well as different edging materials.
Since there are so many options to choose from when looking at edging for flower beds, you are sure to find the edging that works best for you and your flower beds’ needs.
Edging That Serves as A Grass Barrier
Once grass has invaded your flower bed, it is very challenging for gardeners to get rid of the grass without killing the ornamental plants as collateral damage. Digging or pulling up grass and weeds is a laborious task and not very feasible. Thus, the best method is prevention—preventing grass from ever growing in the nutrient-rich gardening soil in the first place.
Covering the soil of the flower bed with about 3 inches of mulch will discourage new grass seeds from sprouting. Herbicides are more of a controlling method, but can also be used as a preventative method as well. The key is being sure not to let it come in contact with the ornamental plants growing in your flower bed.
Flower bed edging is a must for creating a grass barrier. Grass roots can grow anywhere from a couple of inches to a couple of feet, depending on the specifics of the grass and the environment. To prevent grass from invading your flower bed, it is imperative then, that the edging be inserted deep enough into the ground to block these roots from growing under the grass barrier. It also must block any germination underneath the flower bed and sprouting up above ground.
These barriers can be made of metal, wood, plastic, rubber, or even concrete or brick. The metal, plastic, and rubber barriers will need to about 10 inches in height. This helps ensure they can penetrate the ground about 6 inches deep and still stand tall enough to keep grass clippings out and keep the mulch or soil in the flower bed.
If you choose to use concrete or brick as your edging material, be sure to dig a small trench that is about 6 inches deep to ensure that grass roots have a smaller likelihood of invading your flower bed. Then, fill the trench with concrete or brick. You may also need to stack bricks on top of one another to attain the proper depth and height, using mortar to hold them in place.
Flower Bed Edging That Is Attractive and Functional
Edging comes in many shapes and sizes, so chase that look you are searching for.
Inexpensive Flower Bed Edging Options ($)
Inexpensive options for flower bed edging will cost you less but you might lose some barrier functionality and protection and/or the lowest-cost options are often not as attractive as other choices.
- One of the most commonly-used materials for flower bed edging is treated landscape timbers. They’re inexpensive, easy to install, and last a long time. They can be stacked and secured with long galvanized nails.
- Railroad ties are also an inexpensive option that will almost last forever, while also making a bold statement. The downside to these is that they are heavy and can be difficult to handle, they can also leach harmful chemicals into the soil.
- Conventional 2x4 pieces of lumber are a great choice; specifically, pressure-treated pine. It is the most rot-resistant and is safe for soil and plants. The con to this option is that while the lumber pieces are great for straight lines, it’s a struggle (if not impossible) to get them to conform around curved edges.
Medium Cost Options for Flower Bed Edging ($$)
- Plastic has been a go-to edging material for quite some time now. One plus is that it’s relatively inexpensive, depending on the specific plastic that is purchased. It is also very easy to install and provides a clean, modern look to your lawn and flower bed. Most “standard” plastic though, is bound to fade and crack over time, so it will need to be replaced every few years or so.
On the other hand, if you find a strong plastic product, such as our Grass Barrier that is made from HDPE plastic, that may not be a problem. HDPE recycled plastic can last over 100 years underground!
- When used for flower bed edging, cement can be poured by hand or can be poured by a professional using a specialty machine called a curbing machine. Cement can also be painted and/or stamped to match the overall scheme of the lawn and flowerbed. There should be a shallow trench dug to be filled in with the cement to block the grass roots. Using cement to edge flower beds is not necessarily expensive, but it’s definitely at the higher-end of the mid-range options and it is difficult to do by yourself.
- Brick pavers are reasonably priced, making them a great edging option for saving money. These pavers are very versatile, able to cover straight lines and curves and can be laid on their sides for a bold look, set end to end, or laid on one another for a diagonal pattern. Brick pavers also come in a few different colors, including brick-colored, grey, and natural tones. These can be combined to create a multicolored flower bed edging or used all in the same color for a monotone edging, depending on the look you are striving for. The downside to using brick for flower bed edging is that they are almost completely above ground and therefore, do not provide a total barrier against weed root systems.
Expensive Flower Bed Edging Choices ($$$)
- Professional landscaper’s edging preference of choice is often metal. Most metal edging products are pliable, meaning the metal can be bent to hug curved edges along your flower bed. If the soil is soft, it is also easily installed by tapping the metal edge into the ground with a hammer. If the soil is hard, you may need to dig a shallow trench to place the metal edging into and fill in the remaining space with the dirt that was dug out. One metal landscape edging product we’d love for you to check out is our EdgeRight landscape edging. We think you would be pleased with this product if metal is the landscape edging product you’d like to consider.
- Stone and brick (not the same as brick pavers) can become very expensive, but either should last you a long time. These stones can be placed in a straight line, around a curve, in a pattern, or stacked on top of one another. It is highly recommended that mortar is used to fill the gaps between each stone to prevent grass and weeds from invading through the cracks.
How to Edge a Flower Bed
The best edging products in the world won’t do you a whole lot of good if you don’t know how to edge a flower bed. Below are some tips that should help.
Choose your edging tools
There are a variety of edging tools that can be used to edge a flower bed or other landscape feature. But the most basic edging tool is called just that, an edging tool. An edging tool is very similar to a shovel, having a half-moon shaped head that easily penetrates the ground. The half-moon head also allows the tool to be rocked back and forth to slice through tough soil and thick grass.
Some more advanced edging tool options may include an electric edger (can be rented), a rototiller, or cultivator with an edger attachment. A straight-edged shovel, such as a spade, is another tool that can be used and can easily control the edge.
Mark the edge
This is a very important step in the process of edging a flower bed or other landscape element. However, lucky for you, it is a fairly simple step. Spray paint or string can be used to mark exactly where the boundary should be, giving you a guide to follow. Consider the width, depth, and height you want to achieve before you mark the edge. Also be sure to account for the space that will be taken up by the edging material that is being used.
Create the edge
You will create the edge by following the mark you laid for yourself in step 2. Use the tool that you feel the most confident with, probably the edging tool or spade. Push the chosen tool straight down into the ground and gently pull back towards you to loosen the earth, piece by piece, all along the drawn out line. Remove the loosened dirt with a shovel, being careful not to damage the work you have just done.
Finish the edge
This step is where you will need to choose your preferred edging material you would like to use. For general installation, you will either be able to tap the material into the ground or you will need to dig a small trench to place the material in the trench. If you are using brick or stone, you will need mortar to “glue” the bricks together and fill in any gaps. Each installation will vary depending on the specific material and look you want to create. Do some specialty research to discover the best installation method for your choice of material.
Maintain the edge
The edging around your flower bed is already created at this point and now all that is left to do is maintain that original look. A pair of edging sheers or a controllable weed eater is perfect for trimming the grass along the edge, being careful not to cut to little or too much. Staying on top of the maintenance and trimming every couple of weeks or so will prevent you from having to spend an entire day laboring to catch up on all the grown-up grass and weeds.