There’s nothing worse than putting in a lot of time and elbow grease to design and plant the perfect garden or flower bed, only to see it descend into a sloppy mess invaded by lawn weeds. Not only does it look unprofessional, but it puts your once beautiful garden at risk for long-term problems with perennial weeds.
To prevent this from happening, most experienced gardeners will implement some type of edging. Not only does it help define what’s lawn, from what is supposed to be garden, but it also gives you a buffer zone to prevent accidentally killing a precious flower with an accidental swoop of the string trimmer.
Fortunately, there is an edging option to meet just about any budget. This includes professional plastics and sophisticated polymers all the way down to “Up Cycled” materials you can easily get your hands on.
Upcycled & Recycled Edging Materials
Just because you’re working with a tight budget, doesn’t mean your planting beds have to suffer from sloppy edging. With a little ingenuity and a fair amount of elbow grease, you might be able to upcycle or use recycled materials to create a visually striking edging for your planting beds.
At the turn of the last century brick was considered to be the posh building material. High-end homes, banks, places of worship and other important structures were often made of brick. As these buildings come to the end of their lifespan, they are often demolished leaving behind bricks that are often free for the taking. They lay flat into the ground and you can adapt them in a wide range of geometric patterns. Depending on the state of the bricks you might need to paint them to make sure they all have a consistent look.
Old Lumber & Barnwood
Just like brick buildings, timber frame construction also has a limited lifespan. Many older buildings, barns, and pole sheds have kept these woods protected from the elements while allowing them to harden. This gives them superior resistance to the elements without all the harsh chemical concerns of creosote-treated timbers or arsenic-laden treated lumber.
Getting your hands on an impressive stack of bowling ball size boulders maybe isn’t in the cards for everyone. Though a quiet country drive might just turn up some rock piles at the edge of a farm field. These stones can often be had for free, assuming you ask permission from the landowner. Just make sure not to overload your vehicle’s suspension with rocks!
Edging Options You Can Find At The Hardware Store
If you have a little more wiggle room to play within your budget, but you still don’t want to break the bank, you might want to explore the options available at a big box hardware store.
This is one of the more cost-effective edging options that you’ll find at the retail level. Some versions come with stakes at the bottom that let you pound it into the ground with a rubber mallet or a gentle stomp of a work boot. Though there are other types of plastic edging that are designed to connect to landscaping fabric. You then lay mulch right up to the rim to give it a clean line. There are even some types of plastic edging that look like fake stone.
Wood Slat Or Mini Fence
This is like a miniature version of a picket fence. Its usually only 4 to 6 inches high, and depending on the type of wood you might be able to paint it to match the rest of your landscaping color scheme. Here again you either press it into the soil or dig a small trench and then pat the soil up to it. One of the nice things about this type of edging is its ability to protect plants from accidental contact with a weed whip or a lawnmower blade. It’s a great option for a narrow planting bed near the lawn.
Just like upcycled brick, paving stones can be set into a shallow trench. Most modern pavers can also be interlocked to create a seamless edge. Depending on the type of paving stone and how much money you want to spend, you might also be able to create interesting geometric patterns. Pavers also tend to be available in attractive colors and made to stay looking like new for much longer than old fashioned upcycled brick.
Sometimes you can find old cinder blocks that are in decent shape that can be recycled for use as garden edging. Though this type of brick is inherently porous and when left out in the elements, the natural freeze-thaw of the four seasons can cause it to crack and crumble. So, even if you can get your hands on old cinder blocks you should consider buying new ones. Sealing them with a concrete primer will give them a clean look and help them to last longer.
High-End Garden Edging
For people with a little extra budget and the willingness to spend it on making their landscaping shine, there are some high-end garden edging options to consider.
Retaining Wall Blocks
You can lay a single, double or triple layer of retaining wall blocks to give your garden edging a professional look. Stacking it higher could even let you play around with popular raised bed gardening. Of course, the popularity of retaining walls, in general, will leave you spoiled for choice when it comes to color, texture, and contours.
This used to be a by-product of cutting natural flagstones. In recent years, the evolution of modern landscaping materials and artificial stone has helped generate creative options that look like something right off a movie set. It also brings the price down compared to natural stone, but you should still be prepared to make a serious investment.
An Artificial Stone Moat
This concept is a combination of different landscaping materials. There is usually a trough lined with plastic that is then filled with small, artificial rock. To get this much consistent artificial rock, you usually have to go through a professional landscaping contractor, which drives the price up. Recently, the invention of glow-in-the-dark pebbles has inspired some creative ways to make garden edging come alive at night.