Today we will look at how to edge a lawn, one of the most rewarding tasks in lawn care. There’s more to lawn maintenance than mowing, raking, and dethatching. A lush, green lawn will look unkempt and overgrown if you let it spill over the edges.
If you’re unsure how to edge a lawn or don’t see the point in trimming back your grass, here’s some helpful information. Hopefully, you can learn more about the tools, processes, and how edging affects your lawn’s appearance. I have spent a lot of time edging lawns over the years, and it always surprises me the way it improves the look of a lawn, it’s well worth a the effort.
What is Lawn Edging?
Edging refers to the act of trimming back your turf so it’s not overflowing into pathways, curbs, or flowerbeds. This can be done using manual tools or electric edgers, and everyone has a different method of doing it. Some prefer the sturdy reliability of manual tools, while others would rather get the process over and done with as fast as possible.
Regardless of what you use, it’s important that you edge your lawn once or twice a year to keep your lawn looking tidy.
Why Edge Your Lawn?
Mowing your lawn without edging it is a lot like getting a haircut, but leaving the beard untouched. Sure, the grass is tidy and cropped short, but how often do you clean up the edges and make sure that everything is well-contained? If your lawn is obviously overflowing, it can affect the appearance of your entire property.
Pathways and sidewalks are also the areas that people use most. If your turf is spilling over onto these paths, it will be the first thing they notice. Flowerbeds can also be affected by grass growth, so it’s best to make sure that your lawn stays in your lawn.
How To Edge A Lawn
If you’re not sure where to begin, that’s okay. Everyone edges their lawn a little bit differently, and it’s best to assess your yard before proceeding with any kind of plan. Some properties have flowerbeds, stepping stones, hardscapes, and other garden decorations that need to be grass-free, while others might just need a quick perimeter check. The size and layout of your yard determines how much edging needs to be done, so write down the areas that seem untidy.
From there, you can follow this basic battle plan to beat back the trespassing grass.
Mow Your Lawn
First things first, you should give your lawn a quick mow to make sure that you can see the edges clearly. This will also make the edging process easier, since you’ll be cutting through less grass. Most people prefer to edge their lawns during the spring, when the ground is moist and easy to cut through.
Plan and Mark A Path
After mowing, give your lawn a quick rake and try to identify areas that need edging. As mentioned above, you might need to cut back grass along pathways, sidewalks, curbs, flowerbeds, bushes, and other hardscapes. Make a mental (or paper) list of these problem areas; you don’t want to put away your tools before realizing that you missed a spot.
It’s also important that you know the locations of any important pipes, wires, or other hazards. If you cut into them, you could land yourself in trouble. If you’re not sure where they are, try not to get overzealous while edging your lawn for the first few times.
Choose Your Tools
This is where many landscapers butt heads. Some prefer manual tools that they can just haul out and use, while others insist that a good electric edger saves time in the long run.
This is entirely up to you, but it might be a good idea to keep both on hand. If your power edger starts giving you problems, you can just finish the job with your manual. Manual edgers can also provide more control, and might be better for cutting precise paths. We’ll talk more about power edgers, manual edgers, and the different types of edging tools later.
Edge Your Perimeter
Once you’ve picked up your tools, you can begin the edging process. Before you start cutting, lay down a length of rope or twine to mark your path. It’s very easy to get off-track and begin cutting away too much turf, and you don’t want your edges to be lopsided or sloppy.
Begin edging your perimeter. This includes the areas up near your house or porch, around curbs, and along fences. Once this is done, you can begin the more delicate work of edging pathways and flower beds.
Edge Around Flower Beds
Flower beds and other mulched areas are meant to look neat and grass-free. If your lawn has begun spilling into these areas, you’ll need to cut back the turf to keep it from immediately re-growing. This is why many people install stone or metal edging along their flower beds, but we’ll touch on that again later.
If you’re working with a power edger, you might want to switch to a manual tool for the delicate areas. These tools offer more control, and you can get a more fluid cut — especially if your flower beds are curved in any way. How much space you put between your lawn and flower beds is up to you, but if you don’t have edging in place, an two or three inches of space is probably a good idea.
Once your flowerbeds are tidy, you can finally tackle the pathways leading up to your house, porch, shed, gazebo, or other areas of your yard. You might have concrete walkways, stepping stones, or another form of path. Regardless of what hardscapes you have installed, it’s always better to make sure that your grass isn’t overflowing onto it.
Certain pathways will be easier than others. If the areas between your stepping stones are overgrown and grassy, it might take longer to edge around them or rip up the turf. However, you can fill the area with soil or mulch to keep the grass from growing back. Other walkways might just need an inch or two of breathing room to keep them from overgrowing.
Install Your Edging (optional)
As we mentioned before, lawn edging can be used to keep your grass from overgrowing into certain areas. This includes your walkways and flower beds. You can edge your lawn any way you’d like, with any material you’d like. You have a variety of options, including:
Metal is an easy, affordable option for anyone that wants something quick and effective. Most metal edging can be unrolled and pressed into the ground to provide a barrier between your lawn and the rest of your yard.
Wood edging will need replacement after a few years, but it looks natural and works just as well. Concrete, brick, and stone edging all work the same way, but they have aesthetic differences. Some consider plastic edging to be tacky, but it can get the job done in a pinch.
Types of Edging Tools
There are two main categories of edging tools: manual and electric. While electric tools can be powerful and time-effective, they might be harder to use and control. If you’re not super experienced with power tools, you might be better off doing it the old-fashioned way.
However, an electric edger can save you lots of time and effort. While it’s a good idea to have manual edging tools in your shed just in case, investing in a nice power edger is perfect for anyone with a large property, limited time, or limited energy.
Beyond that, there are three different types of manual edging tools. These include:
- Half-moon edger
- Rolling edger
- Hand shears, or long-handled edging shears
Half-moon edgers operate much like a shovel, only you rock the tool back and forth to cut the turf as you go along. Rolling edgers work more like a cutting wheel, but they might be a little more unwieldy and dull in comparison to other tools. Edging shears are good for giving your lawn a spot-treatment or professional finish, but they shouldn’t be the only edging tool in your shed.
Best Lawn Edging Tools
- WORX Electric Lawn Edger & Trencher
- AMES Saw-Tooth Border Edger with T-Grip
- Fiskars Long-handle Steel Edger
- BLACK+DECKER Landscape Edger and Trencher
- Radius Garden Pro-Lite Carbon Steel Edger
In A Hurry?
Looking for a great edging tool but don’t have time to read the whole article, we have you covered. Here are our top picks:
Best Electric Lawn Edger
WORX Electric Lawn Edger & Trencher – Click here for the latest price
Best Hand Lawn Edger
AMES Saw-Tooth Border Edger with T-Grip – Click here for the latest price
Now that we’ve discussed the types of tools you can use for lawn edging, let’s get into the ones worth using. It’s important to remember that every product recommendation might not fit your tastes entirely. This is why we’ve compiled several options for you to choose from.
This list includes both manual and electric tools. We’ve limited the list to power edgers and half-moon edgers, since these are the most popular and reliable options. If you’re interested in tying out a roller edger or edging shears, you can add those to your shed later.
For now, let’s get equipped with something that will get the job done quickly and easily.
WORX Electric Lawn Edger & Trencher
Starting off with an electric edger, the WORX is a powerful tool well worth the price. Every tool is an investment, especially when you’re buying electric. However, this edger is well-reviewed and effective. It comes with depth settings, a cutting line guide, and an adjustable shaft to match any height. The double handle also ensures that you’ll have control over the tool while it’s running, so you can use the line guide to get a clean cut. If you are learning how to edge a lawn you may want to consider an electric edger. This is one of the best lawn edging tools and takes the hard work out of the job.
If you’re hesitant to spend money on electric lawn tools, this might be a good first-time buy. A it’s covered by a warranty, you can confident that you’ll have this tool for a few years before you encounter any trouble. Even if you decide to use manual tools for more delicate work, you can save time and effort with the simple stuff.
AMES Saw-Tooth Border Edger with T-Grip
If you’re dealing with matted turf or a particularly thick, stubborn lawn, the AMES border edger can saw through it easily. Many edgers come with a sharp, straight edge to cut through grass, thatch, and soil easily, but sometimes you need some teeth to get the job done. If you have time to learn how to edge a lawn by hand, then you can’t go wrong with the AMES Saw-Tooth.
The T-grip is also padded, so you can use this tool for large jobs without blistering your hands or feeling uncomfortable. Even if you decide to go electric, it’s best to have one of these around. Manual tools tend to be cheaper than their electric counterparts, so this would be a nice, reasonably-priced backup to add onto your order. It will certainly get the job done every time.
Fiskars Long-handle Steel Edger
If you want something a little simpler, Fiskars has you covered. This edger isn’t quite as padded and toothy as the AMES, but it will get the job done effectively. The sharp blade is perfect for cutting through turf and roots, and the long handle and big footrest makes it easy to step down on and use.
While this tool isn’t as flashy as the others on this list, it is reliable and effective. For those with small lawns and a minimal maintenance plan, it’s best to keep it simple and avoid overspending on features you won’t use.
BLACK+DECKER Landscape Edger and Trencher
Another power-edger to consider. If the WORX seemed like a bit much, this BLACK+DECKER edger might fit your tastes a bit better. It comes with depth settings and a 12-amp motor, which allows it to tackle any amount of grass and thatch. Like the WORX tool, it can be converted into a trencher as well.
While this tool doesn’t boast as many features as the other electric edger on this list, it’s a worthy alternative. As long as you treat it right and take your time, it should last several years and get the job done easily.
Radius Garden Pro-Lite Carbon Steel Edger
Not impressed with the power-edgers, but not quite sold on the manual options either? This Radius edger has a unique design that might make your life a lot easier. The padded, circular handle makes it easier to roll over and cut with, so you don’t have to put your back into it as much.
The handle is long and sturdy, and the forward step is wide enough to put your weight down easily. The Radius edger also comes with a sharp, spaded edge, which allows you to cut deeper and faster, achieving clean, precise edges in less time. If you want a manual tool that will get the job done without much effort, another good option for those that want to learn how to edge a lawn by hand.