Edge Your Garden Like a Pro

by Marty Ross

A sharp edge around flowerbeds keeps the whole garden looking tailored and tidy. Making a neat edge around beds is like tying ribbon around a package — it's the finishing touch.

How to Edge Your Garden
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There are lots of ways to define an edge: a row of stones can mark the margins of a bed; bricks laid end to end — or sunk in at an angle, creating a rick-rack effect — are a traditional choice. In some old-fashioned gardens, upside-down wine bottles might edge flowerbeds, with the green glass sparkling in the sunlight.

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You can make an edge with small flowerpots, or even with a fallen limb, laid to follow the curve of a flower bed.

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Carving an edge yourself, with a sharp spade or a long-handled edger, is perhaps the simplest edge of all. (It's also always the first step, no matter how you decorate the margins of your beds.) Such edges help keep weeds from creeping into your beds, and they are easy to refresh with a few quick cuts. Cut edges also give you the flexibility to change the size and shape of beds as the garden grows.

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To establish an edge around a new flower bed, cutting weeds that send their roots deep into the soil, pick up a Fiskars® D-handle square garden spade. Square spades are all-purpose tools, great for planting trees, shrubs, and perennial plants, and terrific for making edges. The big handle lets you get a good grip, and the footrest on the edge of the six-inch wide blade allows plenty of space for the sole of your shoe, so you can push through heavy soil and tough clumps of grass without hurting your foot. A well-sharpened spade slices neatly through turf and cuts a clean edge.

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Around existing flowerbeds, a Fiskars long-handle steel edger makes quick work of cleaning up and re-defining edges. Even the most carefully defined flowerbed begins to lose its definition as the garden grows. The long handle lets you cut an edge without bending over, and a footrest on the edge of the blade gives you leverage where you need it. This tool is also very useful for cleaning up along the edge of a walk or around a patio.

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It is easy to sharpen the blade of an edger or spade with a flat file.

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Making an edge is a two-step process.

First, simply cut along the line you are defining, and then follow up by pulling the cut grass and weeds up and tossing them into a basket or a Fiskars® Kangaroo bag. You'll end up weeding in the flowerbeds as you work, and having a bag to put everything in spares you the trouble of having to make another pass with a rake. When you're finished, you can dump the weeds and grass into a lawn-waste bag for pickup or throw it all on your compost heap.

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The Kangaroo Bag will practically disappear when the job is done, because it collapses like an accordion and hangs flat on a nail in the tool shed.

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You will not need black plastic garden edging when you keep the margins of flowerbeds trimmed with an edging tool. The plastic doesn't really stop weeds, anyway, and neat edges do not need any embellishment. Fresh mulch helps discourage weeds and makes your work stand out even more — but the truth is that when you're finished edging you'll notice the flowers in your garden more than the edge itself. After all, the edge is only a frame around the pretty picture of your garden.