A nicely manicured lawn is a thing of beauty. Of course, this goes beyond simply cutting the grass every weekend. Ask most people what they think a beautiful lawn should look like, and they’ll describe things like short cut grass, the turf is free of weeds, the landscaping is properly maintained, and the edging is crisp.
Mowing the grass, treating for weeds, and taking care of planting beds or retaining walls is all pretty straight forward. Yet when it comes to edging there are a few different methods. The best edging technique for your lawn will depend on what kind of equipment you have on hand or how much of an investment you want to make in buying edging tools.
Should I Edge My Lawn Before Or After Mowing The Grass?
Oddly enough, this is a hotly debated topic in some lawn care circles. There are some people who insist that you edge your lawn after mowing to make sure that the edges and the cut blades of grass don’t leave anything behind.
Then there are others who insist on edging before you mow the grass to effectively sweep up the spent debris with the mower’s grass clippings. This spares you having to blow away the edging with a backpack blower.
While it might come down to a matter of personal preference you might want to mow before edging if you have a bagger or mulching mower that will process the spent clippings. Otherwise, the prevailing wisdom is to mow your lawn first, then edge, then blow any spent debris away. This will give you the cleanest possible lines.
Different Edging Tools & Techniques
For something so seemingly simple, there are several different tools and techniques for neatly edging a lawn. It’s also worth noting that there is a difference between edging and trimming.
Trimming is the process of clearing away unharvested blades of grass and weeds that the lawnmower just couldn’t get. You tend to trim around trees and along retaining walls. Trimming is done on a horizontal plane.
Edging is the act of cutting away grass and other organic material that threatens to invade planting beds, walkways, sidewalks, and along driveways. Edging is done on the vertical plane. Though one tool might be able to do both.
Edging With A Trimmer
String and blade trimmers are both very popular ways to edge a lawn. After mowing many people will patrol their lawn clearing away any lingering blades of grass from around trees, borders, retaining walls, and swing sets. While you’re at it, you can turn the trimmer sideways to handle the edging along your sidewalk or driveway.
The problem with using a trimmer as an improvised edger is the wear and tear. If you have a lot of edging to handle the trimmer can get pretty beat up over the course of a single summer. If you’re okay with going through some extra string or trimming blades and you don’t might buying a new trimmer every few years, this is probably the more convenient way to edge a lawn.
Is There A Difference Between A Gas & Electric Trimmer For Edging?
These days electric string trimmers are very popular. They tend to be inexpensive as well as very lightweight. If you have a smaller lawn a corded electric trimmer might be handy. Though most people go with a string trimmer that runs off a rechargeable lithium-ion battery.
The drawback of improvising an electric trimmer as an edger is that you are going to use a lot more current. With a corded electric string trimmer, this isn’t a bid deal. With a battery-powered electric string trimmer, you might find yourself running out of charge with a large lawn.
Gasoline trimmers are fading out of popularity with homeowners. They tend to be heavy, loud, and smoky, which makes them more in line with commercial lawn care companies. Though if you want to go that route, you will get all the power you need when improvising a gasoline trimmer as an edger.
Edging A Lawn With A Wheeled Lawn Edger
On paper, this is certainly the right tool for the job. Most have a robust gasoline or electric motor that chew right through even difficult edging. Most can edge between 70 to 90 feet in a minute, which makes it a great option for maintaining a lawn with a lot of sidewalks and a long driveway.
A wheeled lawn edger also tends to be more precise. It cuts long, straight lines without a lot of the irregularities you might get when you improvise a string trimmer as an edger. Most tend to have a tight or even zero-degree turning radius which is great to maintaining shaped borders on landscaping features, retaining walls, and flower beds.
The drawback to a lawn edger is that it really only does one thing. It’s a hard investment to justify if you are just edging a small suburban lawn. This makes them more popular with professional lawn care companies.
Think About Changes In The Terrain When Edging Your Lawn
If you have a perfectly flat lawn, then you don’t have to worry about changes in terrain. If your lawn has some hills or even just inclines which can make edging a little trickier.
It’s best to come up with a plan on where you want to start and finish to be as efficient as possible. It’s usually best to start at the perimeter of your lawn and work your way inward. If you are going to move from say a sidewalk to a landscaping feature, make sure to disengage the blade on a wheeled trimmer, or you will end up cutting a line through your lawn.
Safety First When Edging!
Whether you are using a string trimmer or a wheeled edger to edge your lawn, you always want to be safety conscious. It might not seem dangerous, but it is possible for little pieces of debris to be thrown up at some pretty high speeds. The last thing you want is to injure your eyes from something as simple as edging your lawn on a Saturday afternoon.
If you are going to be using a gas-powered trimmer or edger, you might want to also think about some ear protection. Sometimes simply earplugs might be all you need to muffle the noise of the two-stroke engine.
Blowing After Edging Your Lawn
If your edging and trimming session has left a fair amount of grass and debris laying around the lawn or on the sidewalk, you might want to use a backpack blower to clean it up. They’re relatively inexpensive and complete the manicured look you want your lawn to have.