Creating and maintaining a beautiful green lawn is one of the best things you can do for the curb appeal of your house.
It also gets you a bit closer to nature, you create a positive impact on the environment, and you get a peaceful little space within your premises.
There are a lot of other benefits as well. But most of a lawn’s aesthetic appeal depends upon how well-kept it is.
Even if you have a wide selection of exotic plants in your yard, but it’s unkempt and overgrown, it won’t be a pretty sight.
One of the important things you can do in maintaining a beautiful lawn is to edge it properly.
What is Lawn Edging?
Creating a visible boundary on the outer edges of your lawn, or within your yard, is called edging.
Edging can be done for both aesthetic and functional purposes.
A simple example of it would be coloring a box.
A properly edged lawn will look like a box that is colored properly, within the drawn boundaries.
While without edging, a lawn will look like an untidily colored drawing, with a lot of coloring outside the lines.
It can also be done within the boundaries of a yard, to demarcate different sections (like separating a flower patch or a gardening area within the lawn).
Why Should You Edge Your Lawn?
A lot of people feel that mowing a lawn is enough, and edging it is overkill.
But that’s like cutting your nails haphazardly, without properly trimming them.
A mowed but un-edged lawn is literally “rough around the edges.” Edging refines it.
Edging is to boundaries of your grass what mowing is to its height.
Aesthetically, edging creates the beautiful effect of grass growing in proper shape, within a precise boundary.
In most cases, a lawn is edged on its outside borders.
It helps a viewer take in the outlines of the lawn.
Usually, the outer boundaries of a lawn are rectangular, and edging gives it a geometrical symmetry that is pleasing on the eyes.
It can also be done for functionality.
For example, edging the lawn and erecting a physical boundary to keep the grass away from a flower bed, so that grass doesn’t (selfishly) take up the nutrients of that area, affecting the growth of flowering plants.
Edging also prevents the grass from creeping out to surrounding areas like the sidewalk and the walkway to your door.
How to Do It?
A great answer to that would be “Just do it!” but motivation without direction is a recipe for disaster.
The proper tool for edging a lawn would either be a lawn edger. It’s an electrical or gasoline-fueled cutter on a long stick, a wheel, and a shield.
It has a vertical blade (unlike the horizontal blade of a lawnmower or a string trimmer), along with adjustments available to define and maintain a proper depth of cut. When properly used, a lawn edger defines a clearly visible line of cut grass.
Compared to that, a lawnmower or a string trimmer, while they can cut the grass almost to the ground, cannot create a well-defined edge in a grass patch.
Lawn edgers aren’t very expensive. You can get a good one for under $70, and a combined machine (a lawn edger plus a string trimmer) for well under $120.
If you don’t have a lawn edger and you aren’t inclined to buy one, you can opt for a manual lawn edger instead.
But it will take a relatively long time to edge a lawn the old-fashioned way.
You can also use a string trimmer, but you will not get the same sharp edge that you will with an automatic or manual edger.
It’s much tougher to make a clean edge with just a lawnmower.
Let’s take a look at how you can edge your lawn with a lawn edger and a manual edger spade.
Step by step Guide (Using a Lawn Edger)
1. Choose an adequately powered edger. Overpower (and expensive) edgers are usually preferred by professional landscapers.
If you are choosing a trimmer and edger combo (it’s often the most cost-effective option), make sure you choose one that’s lightweight enough that you can hold it up for a long time without tiring yourself.
2. Lawn edgers work best in straight lines. Since you will be primarily using it to cut an edge around the sidewalk, make sure you run the edger is a straight line.
Also, make sure the blade of your edger is in line with your pavement.
If you are edging too close to the sidewalk and the blade is at an angle, you might damage it.
3. Once you start working, make sure you are walking forward, but your body and the lawn edger you are holding are not moving up or down.
The steadier you are, the better results you are likely to get.
And whenever you are edging your lawn against a sidewalk, make sure you are on the sidewalk, and the shield of the edger and its body is over the sidewalk, not the grass.
It will also help you keep a steady gait since you will be walking on the sidewalk.
4. If you think that your edger isn’t cutting that well in one go and you have to redo the same spot, instead of redoing the whole edge, adopt a double-tap strategy.
Do one area, and then redo it again right after, and then take the next step.
Though, if you walk slowly and take your time, you might get the desired result after running the edger just once over a patch of grass.
Step-by-Step Guide (Using a Manual Edger Spade or Edger Shovel)
A manual edger or an edging shovel is a half-moon shaped spade. Thanks to its shape and sharp edges, it’s easy to insert it into the soil. Like an automatic edger, it also has a shield that determines how far the manual edger will go into the soil.
Another type of manual edger is called a hand rotary edger. It works on the same principle as the automatic edger does, but there you will be providing the requisite power.
It’s basically just a wheel and a vertical blade on a stick. You leverage the sidewalk to dive the wheel, and the vertical blade cuts an edge. It’s almost exclusively used to maintain the edges around a sidewalk.
You can achieve the same result with a normal shovel, but it doesn’t have a shield, so in most areas, you will be digging in more than you should. When using a normal shovel, it would be helpful if you don’t try to shove the shovel flat into the soil.
Tilt it a bit, and insert one tip of the shovel first, then level it. It will take relatively less energy.
It is also important to understand that manual edgers are not very good at straight-line cutting, but they are great if you want to make curvy edges in your lawn.
1. Mark the edges with a little lime, especially if you are making curves. This will ensure that you don’t stray off the path.
2. Once you know where you have to make an edge, Insert the manual edger fully (up-till the shield or the end of the blade) into the soil. This will mark the edge, but it will just be a line in the grass. Now you have to get rid of it.
3. Insert the manual edger on the opposite side of the edge you make. So that the grass patch between to manual “cuts” come loose. Then you just have to yank it out of the ground. This way, you will make a deep edge, where the soil after the edge (the grass-less part), will be much lower.
4. Another way is to simply shove the manual edger in the soil at the edge line, lever the edger against the soil on the back, and push the dirt on the front side of your edger out of the ground. But it will make a very messy line.
Some people also use edging sheers to keep the grass intruding of the sidewalk under control, without actually making an edge on the lawn soil.
Conclusion On Edging Your Lawn
If you just want a clearly defined edge of your lawn, you can use an edger and leave your yard at that.
It will give an excellent clean outline to your lawn and will ensure there isn’t any grass on the sidewalks.
But a lot of people like to mark the edges more permanently, for aesthetics and functionality, usually by laying a line of stones over the edge.
It gives it a good, natural look, especially if you use rocks that are similar to each other in shape and size.
If you want to separate different parts of your lawn and you don’t want grass going over to the other part (like creating a division between lawn and the garden area), you can create a small trench between the two regions and edge them separately.
You can also introduce physical barriers like steel edging.