One of the many important elements of garden design is edging. Whether straight, curved or irregular, an edge defines space and form and draws the eye to different garden features. Edging is also a technique that can help keep weeds and turf grass from creeping into your garden beds. There are a number of methods for edging covering an array of looks and styles as well as a range of difficulty and expense. Edges and borders can also be enhanced with plants in many different ways.
What Is Garden Edging?
Edging refers to the methods and/or materials used to divide garden beds from a feature to which it is adjacent (like lawn, driveway, walkway or patio). Garden edging can be subtle or obvious and can be designed with a variety of methods and/or materials ranging from hardscaping to plants.
While many home gardeners believe a hardscape approach to edging is best, there really are many other options beyond using physical barriers made of stone, plastic or metal (but these have their usefulness, too). Deciding which kind of edging to use will depend on your needs and tastes. Do you want your edging to help hold back mulch? Do you prefer a formal or informal look? What is your budget? How much maintenance are you willing to do? The following ideas might help guide your decision making.
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Straight Natural Lines
There are so many shapes and textures in this wonderful garden in Yorkshire, England. From the lush herbaceous border to the potted tree-form hydrangeas to the lines of round boxwoods, the variety of plants looks balanced yet complex. Having simple, straight edges pulls all these elements together, and it can be done easily with common garden tools. This kind of dug edge usually needs refreshing every year, but it's worth a little effort for this clean, sharp look.Continue to 2 of 25 below.
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Cottage Garden Color
The freewheeling and organic edges created by cottage garden plantings can be a vibrant cacophony of color. These palettes can change throughout the season, too. This garden is blooming in summer with lovely pink foxgloves, blue perennial geraniums and purple creeping phlox. Cottage gardens never fail to please with their ever-changing parade of colorful blooms.Continue to 3 of 25 below.
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Shifting with the Seasons
Sometimes the edge of the garden explodes with seasonal blooms, like these frothy blue forget-me-nots. Once these flowers die back, they can be deadheaded or pulled up (they're famous for re-seeding themselves freely), allowing other perennials to fill in or making room for annuals.Continue to 4 of 25 below.
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Gravel Walkway as Divider
This sleek garden design features straight clean lines balanced with flowing, feathery plant shapes. The basic surfaces of lawn, gravel walkway and patio form the main structure and are clean, low-maintenance options. The container plantings allow for flexible design possibilities.Continue to 5 of 25 below.
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If you are gardening in a suitable USDA cold hardiness zone, lavender can create an attractive and fragrant low hedge that attracts pollinators. There are a number of varieties of lavender in colors ranging from white to blue to pink to purple. Lavender likes plenty of sun, sandy loamy soil, and dry conditions.Continue to 6 of 25 below.
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Clean Curved Edges
The full lushness of this garden border needs nothing more than a clean, simple trench edge that can be achieved with a shovel or another garden tool. Creating a sloping trench creates a dividing line between lawn and flower bed.Continue to 7 of 25 below.
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Hostas at the Deck Edge
Decking is a great backyard feature for comfortable walking and making use of space that isn't ideal for planting. But how to create an attractive and functional edge for the deck? These hostas leaf out in spring and last through late autumn, providing a full, lush accent for the clean lines of the deck, and complementing the shape and texture of the hedges and ornamental grasses opposite.Continue to 8 of 25 below.
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Brick and Mortar
Vintage bricks are a favorite material for creating garden borders. You can make a stable and neat edge by using mortar to attach the bricks to each other. The soft colors of these bricks are a nice contrast to the smooth river rocks in this succulent bed.Continue to 9 of 25 below.
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A Curving Stone Border
This charming stone border is wide and sturdy enough to serve as a walkway for this curvy shade garden. The meandering edges are a good design choice for this large property that contains a number of separate planting areas with lawn in between them.Continue to 10 of 25 below.
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Gravel and Containers
Many gardeners are choosing to fill in large areas with gravel, which can cut back on maintenance and offer plenty of area for walking or entertaining. But that doesn't mean there has to be fewer flowers! Bloom-filled containers add color and texture to the edge of this walkway: these stoneware pots full of colorful agapanthus can also be moved wherever color is needed, even indoors.
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Sometimes using unexpected objects in the garden can go beyond decorative and become functional. These large seashells make a striking and effective border material for this garden bed.Continue to 12 of 25 below.
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Late Summer Annuals
This simple garden edge bursts into vibrant color in late summer when these cosmos in shades of bright pink start flowering. Cosmos often re-seed from the previous year and can also be started from seed after the last frost. They bloom for weeks and need only gentle deadheading to stay full and luscious. A similar effect can be created with zinnias.Continue to 13 of 25 below.
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Stone Edge Times Three
This small grove of trees has an attractive and functional edge design that includes inlaid bricks, gravel, and rough cut larger stones built into a low wall. The three sizes and shapes of stone create a pleasing interplay of textures and color.Continue to 14 of 25 below.
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Varying Heights at the Garden Edge
Having a mix of plant heights alongside your walkways lends drama, beauty and a sense of the unexpected. This large English garden has flowering perennials both tall and small along its traditional paver paths, edged with small stones.Continue to 15 of 25 below.
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If you have a large garden, spending time in it as day turns to evening can be a magical time to walk or just sit. Plants with blue foliage look especially beautiful at dusk and draw the eye as the late sunlight moves across the garden. Blue foliage plants can include juniper, firs, hosta, fothergilla, dianthus, and many others.Continue to 16 of 25 below.
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A nice winter walk through the garden after a light snow lets you visualize the garden's basic lines, borders and edges. This garden photo shows the balance of straight walkways to curved beds and can inspire ideas for what to plant to enhance these shapes come spring.Continue to 17 of 25 below.
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Paver Path and Edge Combined
If you have a need for both a path and an edge, why not combine them? This succulent garden in Australia has large smooth stone pavers for walking that form part of the edge of the gravel bed.Continue to 18 of 25 below.
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Metal and Stone
Flexible metal edging is becoming a welcome alternative to plastic edging. It is more durable and has a more solid presence in the garden, and over time, the weathered look and light layer of rust gives an organic, vintage look. This Swedish garden has metal edges bordering the beds with gravel walkways setting off the many shades of green shade perennials. The round rainwater basin balances straight and irregular edges with a perfect circle.Continue to 19 of 25 below.
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if you have a sloping yard and need to build a retaining wall for edging and support, consider a drystone wall. This involves fitting stones together in a close-fitting way without using mortar. Not only do these walls look great, they are sturdy and long-lasting and can be easier to repair than walls made with mortar.Continue to 20 of 25 below.
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Faux Railroad Ties
Many gardeners are aware that using old railroad ties in the garden can leach toxic chemicals into the soil. But you can get that same look with these concrete molded pavers made to look just like vintage railroad ties. They can be used for pathway pavers as pictured here or for edging garden beds.Continue to 21 of 25 below.
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The edge of this narrow garden bed is bursting with color and also has a pleasant repeating pattern of daisy-like shapes in the dainty feverfew and different varieties of echinacea.Continue to 22 of 25 below.
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In temperate climate gardens, the spring border is doubly significant: it's the first bright spot of color of the season, and it's also the beginning of the cycle of perennials until winter comes again. Little wonder so many gardeners enjoy planting many colorful bulbs to start the show! These bright orange and magenta tulips light up the edge of this garden next to a trimmed yellow-green boxwood hedge, creating a brilliant palette of bright colors.Continue to 23 of 25 below.
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Try Scalloped Stone
We've all seen those scalloped stone edgers at the large DIY chain stores, but did you know they're based on traditional terracotta stone? Some companies still make these in the traditional way. They provide a colorful vintage-looking edge for this flower bed.Continue to 24 of 25 below.
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Soften Edges with Ground Covers
This beautifully installed water feature and stone paver path are given a softer, more organic look by allowing natural ground cover plants to grow between them. Many ground covers could work in similar designs, including sweet woodruff, dianthus, creeping thyme, campanula (like 'Dickson's Gold'), perennial hardy geraniums, or creeping phlox.Continue to 25 of 25 below.
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An Authentic Vintage Look
This stone house with thatched roof in England has authentic-looking fluted stone garden edging popularized during this Victorian era. This edging can be sourced through salvage yards or purchased from stone workers who create vintage designs. The edging is clean and graceful alongside the flagstone patio.