Whether you have a small flowerbed or a large yard, lawn and garden care is important to keeping your space healthy and attractive. One of the most common lawn maintenance jobs is edging, which serves to both protect and beautify spaces in and around your home.
Lawn edging is done with an edger, and depending on the size, the edger may be handheld or feature one or more wheels for guidance and stability. While edging is a relatively simple task that’s often done only a few times a year, proper planning and execution will ensure your lawn is looking and feeling its best.
Edging is the process of creating boundaries in and around a lawn or garden. Edging digs down vertically — usually around 2-3 inches — to separate outdoor spaces. One might edge around a driveway, sidewalk, mailbox, shrubs, trees or gardens. Edging highlights specific areas such as flower beds while protecting others from weeds, like driveways.
Edging is a similar operation to both trenching and trimming, and many edgers may serve multiple functions, performing either of these tasks as well. Trenching is the process of digging a deeper and often wider boundary than edging, while trimming is the maintenance of that boundary, cutting horizontally to stop the encroachment of weeds.
In order to edge your space, you need the right edger. There are three main types of edgers available, sorted by how they derive power.
Gas-powered edgers are ideal for those with larger spaces or anyone who will be tackling ground that’s tough and infrequently tended to. Gas edgers are able to achieve a higher power than their electric counterparts but also tend to be heavier, noisier and less environmentally friendly. Most gas edgers feature wheels so that movement is easier. Gas edgers feature a blade that adjusts to various depths.
Electric edgers are typically light, eco-friendly and easy to maneuver. They may be corded or cordless, and the latter are powered by batteries which need to be maintained and fully charged when you’re ready to use the edger. Electric edgers are better for smaller and medium yards since they have either a limited cord or a limited runtime. Electric edgers may feature a blade, but most incorporate a nylon string to cut through soil and grass.
Manual edgers are distinct from powered ones in both their operation and usage. Manual edgers are inexpensive and best suited for those with small yards and garden beds. Manual edgers resemble a shovel, and you firmly push the edger straight down into the ground with your feet to create the boundary. Move it side to side to create space, then remove the edger and any loose soil and repeat until your boundary is complete.
Once you have your tool ready, survey your space and plan your route. Some people like to use rope or a hose to set a course to follow around the yard and set it up so that you edge on the inside of the guide. It’s not recommended to use spray paint, as wind may create more of a mess. If you’re only edging around straight borders, like a driveway or sidewalk, setting a path may not be necessary.
Determine how deep you want to cut. Most homeowners prefer edges that are 2 inches deep. Depending on your lawn and desired aesthetic, you may want to go deeper, but be aware of any buried wires or cables.
Be sure to check ahead of time for any stubborn rocks, large rocks or wayward debris or toys that may be strewn across the yard. When you’re ready to edge, it’s best to make sure any pets or children are inside away from the activity.
It’s advised to wear some protective gear to cover your ankles, wrists and eyes. Wear closed sneakers or boots, preferably ones that block your shins as some sticks or rocks may fly back during edging. Outdoor or garden gloves are recommended for added comfort and to avoid any sores or blisters. Safety goggles or a pair of well-fitting sunglasses are also suggested. While most edgers feature effective guardrails, errant twigs or stones are possible.
Check the weather as well. You may want to wear sunscreen, don a hat and bring a bottle of water, depending on the temperature.
Assume a comfortable grip and posture when you begin edging. Walk slowly and methodically, following the traced course. Exercise more caution and care about curves. Depending on your edger, you may have a wheel to guide you for added assistance, but you should still proceed at a gentle pace.
Patience is the most important part of edging. Moving too quickly may result in uneven edging or the machine running off-course. Some less powerful electric edgers may struggle if you move too quickly, especially through tougher soil.
Once edging is complete, it’s important to clean your edger and store it properly. After the power is turned off, remove any dirt or other debris that may be stuck in or around the string or the blade. Store the edger in a cool, dry place away from humidity, heat and temperature fluctuations.
If you have a cordless electric edger, remove the battery and place it on the charger. For gas-powered models, you can store normally unless it’s the end of the season or you won’t be using the edger for months. In that case, you‘ll likely want to stabilize the gas or empty it entirely.
Greenworks 24V String Trimmer/Edger
Lightweight, affordable and versatile, this edger and trimmer is ideal for small and medium yards. This electric edger has no hassle and low maintenance.
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Southland Walk Behind Gas Lawn Edger
For those with larger lawns, a gas-powered edger is likely the best choice. This quality Southland model features five different depth positions and allows for bezel cuts while providing a precise edge every time.
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Anthony Marcusa writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.