On an aesthetic level, lawn edging is a line of demarcation that creates visual interest by separating one segment of your yard from another. But it also can be functional, such as when you erect a barrier between a lawn and an adjacent flower bed to keep grass from creeping into the latter.
Sometimes landscapers simply dig a small trench to remove sod and form a neat line of demarcation as the border. This might seem like an easy way to install an edge, but it will require continual maintenance as soil settles and plants grow and spread. You'll have to keep reforming the trench. That's one reason why most people prefer barrier-style landscape edging.
A raised garden bed is a form of barrier edging. The typical raised bed is a shallow frame made of wood (the "edging" component) that is filled with soil and plants. It prevents spillover, keeping the plants neat and in their designated area. But if you don't wish to build such a structure and simply want to divide segments of your yard, there are several types of edging to choose from.
Here are some of the most common lawn edging materials.
Natural stone is durable and looks great, but it can be expensive. It can also be fairly heavy, which is an important factor to consider if you'll be transporting and installing it yourself. You can set edging stone in mortar to build a solid, low retaining wall. Or you can casually place stones next to one another for a more relaxed, natural feel. Cobblestone pavers are a popular choice among gardeners. They might be a little too cookie-cutter for those who crave a rustic look, but the flip side is their uniformity makes them easy to fit neatly together.
Can be pricey
Wood is another natural material that many folks find attractive, and it's fairly affordable. However, be aware that untreated wood will rot quickly. That's why landscape timbers are treated with wood preservatives, though you still can expect them to start rotting in about a decade. You can install landscape timber edging around flower beds. But due to health concerns over chemical-treated lumber, it's not recommended for use around a vegetable garden. Moreover, like stone, landscape timbers can be heavy and bulky, so you might need to enlist some help with your garden project. Standard timbers are best for a project where you need straight edging, but you also can cut wood to form a low fence in virtually any shape you want.
Must be treated to prevent rot
Can be heavy and bulky
Metal edging is effective at keeping plants where you want them. It holds its shape, and it’s fairly easy to install. For the basic metal edging that comes in a long, narrow strip, you often can simply pound it into the ground if the soil is soft. (Otherwise you might need to dig a narrow trench first.) Plus, some metal edging comes with stakes that make it even easier to sink into the soil. Metal won’t rot or crack when exposed to the elements, though it does need to be treated to prevent rust. And while the basic strip versions are fairly inexpensive, the more decorative edging with ornate scrollwork and other details can get pricey.
Easy to install
Decorative versions can be pricey
Must be treated to prevent rust
Some gardeners feel that plastic edging looks a bit tacky and out of place among nature. But plastic is a cost-effective option, so it still enjoys great popularity. Plus, it's fairly simple to install. And it's flexible, which means you can curve it around all your garden's twists and turns. Plastic edging comes in different grades from lightweight to heavy-duty. It’s typically worth it to pay a little extra for the higher-quality material, as the lightweight plastic tends to fall apart after just a few years. But with any plastic edging you’re likely to have some chips and cracks eventually as the product is exposed to the elements and sharp lawn tools.
Fairly easy to install
Can look unnatural
Not that durable
Concrete edging is incredibly durable. You can add concrete blocks or pavers wherever you want them, or you can use poured concrete for a more permanent and customizable edging. However, poured concrete is a pricey option because unique forms must be created for your yard. And even the prefabricated blocks are more expensive than materials like wood, metal, or plastic. Concrete blocks also can be heavy and difficult to transport. But one major perk to poured concrete edging is it can be customized to any shape you desire, and you can even add pigments and patterns to fit your style.
Can be customized
Brick is a good choice if you're striving for a traditional, uniform look in your landscape design. It's an attractive, durable product with many colors and styles available. It's usually pretty easy to find material that complements existing brick pavers in your yard or brickwork on your house. However, brick edging can be expensive, especially because you often have to hire a professional to install it. If you’re simply creating a straight line, you likely can do that yourself. But it takes some expertise to cut brick for curves and to build low retaining walls.
Can be expensive
Sometimes complex to install
Unique Lawn Edging Materials
Finally, there are many unique and creative materials that people use for lawn edging, including roof tiles, decorative plates, car hubcaps, bowling balls, and seashells. The options are quite extensive and can be customized to your personality, though ideally the materials should be able to withstand the elements or your edging won't last long. Some of these materials, such as seashells, are more decorative than practical and won't always keep plants from spilling over into the different segments of your garden. But they're still excellent at creating a feeling of whimsy and individuality in the landscape.
Adds personality to the garden
Not always durable
Sometimes more decorative than practical