How to Choose Landscape Edging

Adding the right type of material can create curb appeal with less maintenance

Edging - Choose Landscape Edging

With the use of decorative edging, it is easier than ever to create solid boundaries between your lawn and garden or driveway. This guide will teach you how to add both definition and design to your landscape using edging.

Types of available edging

There are several different types of edging available. The four main types include spade-cut, strip edging, masonry and wood edging. Look around your yard and choose a material that aesthetically matches the design and style of your outdoor space. Each edging material has advantages and some varieties are better suited to certain climates.

  • Spade-Cut Edging

For the simplest type of border, choose spade-cut edging. Spade-cut edging involves digging a narrow trench around the outside of the bed you are setting part and is the least expensive type of edging available. Use a flat spade with a straight cutting edge to get the job done.

  • Strip Edging

Strip edging consists of a shallow barrier that is anchored beneath the ground. The very top part of the edging is visible to subtly set the bed and lawn apart. Strip edging works best for creating curves and comes in plastic and metal varieties. Plastic is less expensive and easier to install. Metal edging comes in steel or aluminum and lasts longer but is less pliable.

  • Masonry Edging

Masonry edging, composed of stone, brick or concrete, is the most expensive type. Stone is very attractive and allows you to match borders to any existing stonework you have used in the landscaping, garden or exterior of your home. Cement borders often come in preformed sections of different shapes and styles, allowing for easier installation.

  • Wood Edging

Wood edging comes in precut sections of alternating heights, either as round logs or flat boards. All types of wood edging are durable and most are affordable. The types of wood most often used include cedar, cypress and redwood, which resist rot naturally when lying next to soil. Pressure-treated wood is resistant to moisture and a good value for larger projects.

Installation Tips on

For tips on how to install the various types of edging that are available, consult the chart below.

Edging Type Installation Tips

Masonry: Brick

  • Dig a trench that will allow the amount of brick you want showing to be seen
  • For vertical edging, set the brick edge-to-edge in the trench
  • For horizontal edging, lay the bricks on a sand base to cushion them and
    protect from frost heave
  • Keep top faces flush with soil surface and add or take sand away to allow for
    variations in thickness
  • Push soil up against bricks
  • Sweep sand into gaps between bricks to add stability

Masonry: Stone

  • Dig a trench that will allow the amount of stone you want to show
  • Drive two stakes to define the area you are filling and run a mason's line of
    string between to define the area
  • After mixing concrete, shovel into a 3-foot stretch and smooth out
  • Set stones into concrete
  • Level the tops to match the masonry line using a rubber mallet
  • When all stones are in place, push concrete about 6-inches up the back side
    of each and trowel smooth at a 45 degree angle
  • For corners, keep stone faces tight to each other and always end a row with a
    full stone
  • Repeat steps for the rest of the border

Spade-Cut

  • Outline the area with rope, a garden hose, lime or other material
  • Dig a trench that's 3-inch to 4-inch deep
  • Keep the lawn edge vertical and angle the inside of the trench toward the
    bed
  • For loose soil, angle the spade rather than cutting straight up and down
  • After cutting the perimeter, rake the trench and pull leftover soil up into the
    bed

Strip: Metal

  • Outline the area with rope, a garden hose, lime or other material
  • If soil is soft, lay edging along the bed's border and, using a board to muffle
    the blow, tap into place with a hammer
  • If soil is hard, use a spade to dig a shallow 4-inch trench around the bed's
    perimeter
  • Position the top edge of the metal at soil level
  • Drive enclosed stakes through premade holes in the strips or by driving long,
    bent spikes over the strips to keep edging in place
  • On the garden side, rake soil against the edging, keeping it a bit lower than
    the lawn side

Strip: Plastic

  • Outline the area with rope, a garden hose, lime or other material
  • Dig a shallow 4-inches trench so the bottom of the plastic edging lip is at soil
    level
  • Set plastic strips into trench
  • Drive enclosed stakes through the bottom edge of the strips to keep the
    edging in place
  • On the garden side, rake soil against the edging, keeping it lower than the
    lawn side

Wood: Boards

  • Dig a trench around the edge of the bed to the depth of the edging boards
  • Place the boards in the trench and drive stakes in behind, about 5-inches
    apart, about 1-inch below the board's top edge
  • Nail the stakes to the edging board, with something behind the stake to
    absorb hammer blows

Wood: Landscape Timbers

  • Dig a trench the same width as the timber to the depth you need
  • If buried at least halfway, timbers will hold firm in ground that heaves from
    frost
  • If placing timbers in ground with frost heave, drive spikes through the timbers
    into the soil to keep the timbers in place

Edging Features

A wide variety of features are available when selecting the type of materials you want to use.  

  • Landscape Timbers

Landscape timbers and railroad ties are large, durable and relatively inexpensive. You can use them individually to outline straight beds or pile them on top of each other.

  • Cement or Brick Pavers

Some types of pavers interlock so they are easy to use. Although the interlocking pavers are more expensive, they can be used to quickly create borders or raised beds without needing mortar. Pavers are typically 12-inches long and 4-inches wide.

  • Plastic Edging

Polyethylene edging has a round head on top and a series of grooves on the bottom to keep it anchored. Plastic edging is sold in 5- to 6-inches widths in 20- to 60-foot lengths. Some types contain UV inhibitors to resist fading and cracking in the sun.

  • Cedar Edging

Short, round cedar logs provide an informal look and can be set on end at equal or varied heights. You can also buy whole sections of these short logs strung together in one piece with plastic backing that you can simply push into the ground and secure with stakes.

  • Bender Board

Bender board is milled from redwood or made from composite materials, about
ΒΌ-inch thick, which allows the board to bend easily conforming to tight curves and angles.  

  • Steel Edging

Steel edging is sold in 5- to 6-inch widths, in 10- to 20-foot lengths and in different gauges. Steel is flexible but not as bendable as plastic and is more expensive.