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Edging your garden beds

Edging your garden is more than a strip of concrete. Edging is used to limit or control one item from spreading into another region or item. A clean line between two different elements in your landscape exemplifies how edging can bring class and style into your landscape.


Edging can be used to keep grass from spreading into nearby garden beds; confine coloured pebbles and stones to a designed pattern; create a visual barrier to enhance the garden theme; restrict roots from advancing towards unwanted areas; and can assist in saving time when maintaining the garden.

Made from a range of materials, edging can be as simple as poured concrete, stones, metal, timber or modern plastics. It can be laid on the surface, pushed into the soil for stability or require tranches for installing.


By far the most common edging material is concrete.  The preform shape can be made on site to fit any garden bed shape or dimension. As it is set into a small trench these are good at keeping grass out of nearby gardens. However, tree and shrub roots can easily travel beneath the concrete edging.


Timber edging is better remembered when used for raised garden beds. Treated sleepers make a long lasting barrier for keeping new soil within a built garden bed and for keeping surrounding grass out. If you want to use timber for curved garden beds, cut numerous shallow slices into one side of the timber to assist bending. Ask your timber supplier for details.


Curved gardens are also well suited for plastic garden edging.


For gardens with themes such as informal or cottage, then metal, stone or terracotta edging may be more appropriate. These tend to be more aesthetic rather than functional depending on their construction. Highly decorative pieces are available to personalise the landscape.


Where roots of trees and shrubs are of concern to nearby building structures then special plastic root barriers are needed. These barriers are placed into trenches at the required depth to intercept troublesome roots.       


One method of edging that needs no additional purchases, except personal sweat and perseverance is the spaded trench. Around each garden the spade removes a ‘V’ or ‘U’ slice of earth which in pushed back into the garden bed. This type of edging is best for only dedicated home gardeners as it requires high maintenance to keep grasses out of the trench.


Edging will make a landscape better defined. Some will be visible taking on the role of an important visual element within the design, while others may not be seen but highly efficient working as a barrier.


Article submitted by Paul Plant FAIH, freelance horticultural writer

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