Garden edges: Creating a beautiful line

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What’s the best way to define the borders of a landscape bed?

I get this question a lot.  But I also bring it up even when I’m not asked (much to the dismay of those who would rather talk about current events).  Because it’s a such a great thing to know!

The very easiest and most beautiful way to separate your planting areas from your lawn is to cut a clean edge with an edging tool, remove the excess sod, and fill in with dark brown shredded bark mulch.

Visit any botanical garden, and this is exactly what you’ll see.   No plastic fences, no metal tubing, no flag stones.  Edging materials deteriorate over time, and they require hand trimming.  Who has time for that?

A crisp, uncluttered edge clearly defines space.  If you do nothing else to your landscape, this one step will make it look fabulous and well-tended.

Recently, I had an edging “party” with a friend at her gorgeous antique house in town.  Let me tell you, it burned a lot more calories than going out to lunch, and we thought it was very gratifying to see the instant results.

Here’s what we did:

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The foundation area is planted with lovely hosta, Solomon’s seal, hydrangea, and more.  But you can see that the planting bed ran right up against the turf grass:

We began by using the edging tool to cut a gentle, sweeping line about one foot away from the edge of the plants (see an excellent video here on how to do this).

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Next, we removed the strip of sod between the cut line and the plants (we used a three-prong hoe, which pulled it up easily).  Then we went back over the cut line again with the edger to make it extra clean and sharp.

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After that, we talked to neighbors who came over to see what we were doing.  Then our friend walked by with her new baby, and needless to say, we dropped everything.  So we scheduled another get-together later that week to fill in the mulch.

I’m sure you’ll agree that the final result is really striking, and it’s so easy to maintain:

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About once a year, you have to go back over the lines with a sharp edging tool and add a bit more mulch.  You do want to keep the mulch bed level a little higher than the turf, which helps the mower pass more easily.

The only real downside to this edging method is that it is highly addictive, and you’ll find yourself unable to stop talking about it at dinner parties.

Photos and landscape design: Homeowner, Hamilton, NY

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