To Edge or Not to Edge…

February 12, 2024

By Rick Bogusch

Bridge Gardens

Why do we edge? Some people, myself included, like it neat. That means crisp, well-defined edges between bed and lawn, at least at this time of year, before the verdant growth of the season softens the divide. There are good reasons not to edge. It’s a lot of work and if you do not have edgings carted away by a landscaper, what do you do with them? It’s certainly extra work if you’re tackling the task yourself.

At Bridge Gardens, we edge most beds every 2-3 years, but we edge the Vegetable Garden and Community Gardens annually to keep invasive lawn grasses at bay and maximize competition-free growing space.

The blurred lines preferred by many gardeners these days are attractive, too. They require less work and fewer resources and I like their relaxed, naturalistic style. There’s a place for both approaches in this world and in your garden.


Crisp edge along vegetable garden.

How to edge?

I use a sharp digging spade to edge. It has weight behind it, unlike the so-called edgers commonly sold everywhere. I try to angle it in, maybe at a 45-degree angle. Establishing a line to follow is important. In the past, we used string or hoses and spray paint. These days, we’re trying not to use spray paint and rely instead on string tautly stretched between stakes.

Traditionally, an angled gap is left between lawn and mulched bed to allow air to discourage root and shoot development of grass plants, but we often fill this gap in with bark mulch and achieve the same result.


A string helps define the edge to be cut.

And what do you do with the leftover edgings if you don’t have your landscaper cart them away? At Bridge Gardens, we see the edgings as future soil for planting trees and shrubs, adding to vegetable gardens, making beds, sculpting the land. We make piles of sod and edgings, green side down, preferably near the edging site and preferably in shade. Sometimes we cover piles with a tarp and/or mulch to hasten decomposition. That way, we can use the soil sooner and remove the pile from view.

Whether you edge or not, this is the perfect time of year to get outside, absorb the sunshine and fresh air, get some exercise and get to know your garden while it’s at rest for the winter.

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