Garden landscape edging ideas

Why you may want to install landscape edging, and some things to think about before you begin.

Landscape edging has multiple purposes. It prevents encroachment of plants into other areas of the garden. Garden landscape edging creates an attractive dividing line between areas of the garden. In other words, it lets us “color (or landscape) within the lines.”

But that’s not all. Landscape edging materials are also used to assist in maintenance, such as preventing a weed eater from taking out plants while trimming a grassy area that is growing just a few inches away.

It’s so diverse

Edging is anything but boring. A good garden landscape edging is not the metal or plastic strips that you often find at a do-it-yourself store, but a more permanent and attractive garden structure. Edging can vary from flush to a foot above the ground. Often brick or stone are used as an attractive divider material, and these may be set in concrete for a permanent installation or sand if semi-permanent is desired. Other aesthetically appealing options could be timber, ceramic, or glass (block), and we have seen a garden landscape edging that used rubber from recycled tires. It looked surprisingly good.

Think before you install

Not so quick! If the installation of edging or a small wall is not thought out a bit, the structure could suffer from soil heave or cause drainage problems in a yard.

Call us at Environmental Construction if you need advice about installing any permanent structure in your garden. If not installed correctly or in the right location, your new garden landscape edging could become a nuisance.

Think, “Load.” Will you need to drive a lawn tractor near (or over) the edging? It is important to consider whether the landscape edging will be able to handle the weight of the equipment. Many edging materials are much too weak and will either break or sink into the ground if the load is too heavy. If using brick as an edging material, then placing a length of steel re-bar underneath will help reinforce and add strengthen.

The type of material is also important. Some edging could damage a lawn mower blade or become damaged itself. Think about how the garden landscape edging will interact with your yard tools. Even if the material is safe, be sure to check the height of the lawnmower blades to ensure they are in the right position?

Ornamental edging vs functional edging

Some edging couldn't keep anything out. It is purely ornamental and meant to provide more of a visual boundary than a physical boundary. An example of this is inside a garden bed where a vegetable patch is delineated by a set of small wooden poles. The poles don't stop anything from growing across, but make for a pretty garden bed.

We often use plants as an ornamental edging in our landscape designs. There are many colorful annuals that produce a nice garden landscape edging effect. Some plants may need some hardscape support, or occasional maintenance, but that addition of color is often well worth the effort. Consider thyme as a border for an herb garden. It grows fairly slowly and in bunches and can be pruned to form a nice thin trail.

Edging to help with pests? Absolutely. If the right material is chosen and installed to the appropriate heights and widths, edging can be your new best friend. Imagine a wide edging around a small flower garden or vegetable patch that uses a hardscape material and incorporates a small moat at the top. The moat fills with rain water and flows in a continuous motion to trap the unsuspecting slug (unless slugs fly…and sometimes we’re convinced that they do.) This could save a lot of delicate flowers and delicious vegetables. Just make sure to install a small pump to keep the water running so as to avoid a mosquito problem.

Slugs also will avoid materials they consider sharp. Sand, if kept clean and is the right type will provide such a barrier. In this case, a “sharp” sand edging would be needed. Copper supposedly will work as a functional edging to deter slugs, but it has to be done correctly so that a slug will feel a charge and avoid contact. Actually any two metals will do this.

Lighting can be integrated with edging to add a unique and magical effect to the garden. The lighting can be built directly into the material for the ultimate in functional edging. Modern led lighting strings can be put onto the top, bottom, middle, or backside of edging to give some truly nice effects with multiple colors or changing colors. These lights, if quality units are purchased, can last for decades.

Drawing the lines

Before we landscape inside the edging, we first want to draw the lines. In many cases, landscape edging is meant to separate some invasive plants. Here, it needs to be set deep enough into the soil. Most grasses won't cross underneath an edging if the edging is at least 4 inches deep, though this is not a guarantee. If the edging is being placed around bamboo, it should be especially deep (maybe as much as 2 feet deep.) Mint variations seem to keep from spreading past their border when the garden landscape edging is 6 inches deep. But also note, the depth of the edging often depends on the soil -- looser soils need more protection than clay soils.

We have come to the edge of another topic in gardening, but our crew of quality landscape designers are teeming with creative garden landscape edging ideas. So give us a call. We look forward to working with you.

Category: Garden Structures

Environmental Construction, Inc.

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