Living on the Edge(ing)

By Cynthia Bee, Conservation Garden Park

One of the easiest ways to create and maintain a landscape that looks good all season is to look beyond the spaces we’ve created and instead focus on where those spaces meet. Creating a strong edge between landscape uses is as important as weeding and mowing when it comes to curb appeal. The best way to edge your landscape is a matter of personal preference and there isn’t a right answer. No matter how you edge it, it takes time to keep the edge looking good. A landscape which follows our recommended Localscapes® method has fewer edges which simplifies maintenance. Learn more about the method at

Cut Edge

A simple cut edge is a simple but effective way to edge. Using a half-moon shaped hand edging tool, cut a clean edge between lawn and landscape. This crisp line creates strong definition between lawn and planting beds. Although it takes some time to edge this way the first time, once the edge has been created, maintaining it only requires occasional touch ups through the season. Cost: a half-moon edging tool (about $30) and some time.

Edge & Swale

The edge and swale technique is a way to make inexpensive black plastic edging more effective. When selecting edging (plastic, aluminum, steel etc.) use the tallest one you can find—6 inches is optimal. The key to making a thin edging work is to maintain a swale behind the edge that is 6 inches wide and deep. When grass roots try to jump the top of the edging, there’s no soil on the other side for them to grab hold. Roots may still make their way under the edging but the swale provides a “red zone” where you can either get control of escaped roots by hand pulling (recommended) or by spraying an herbicide. Either way, timely action is important. The swale provides a small area where you can grab control before the lawn invades planting beds. Cost: plastic edging (around $35 per 60 feet), landscape staples or stakes and time.


Concrete curbing, brick, and stone can act as a “mow strip” to make it easy to get the lawnmower along the edge of a planting bed. These may look pretty, but don’t keep lawn from invading the bed because they just sit on the surface of the soil. To remove lawn that crosses over curbing, use a half-moon edging tool to sheer off and then pull up the lawn, or use an herbicide such as Grass-B-Gone. The swale technique cannot be used with hardscaped mow strips because it may destabilize the strip, causing it to crack or fail. Cost: varies by material and may require professional installation.

Whatever method you elect to use, keeping a crisp line between planting beds, lawns and paths is an essential feature of a well-maintained landscape. At the Conservation Garden Park we’ve used a number of different edging products. Stop in and see which might be best for your yard. We’re located at 8275 South 1300 West, West Jordan, Utah. Open 8am-8pm, Monday-Saturday.