Weeds can be an issue when they get a foothold in the lawn, but lawn grasses can become a nuisance in their own right if they invade other parts of the landscape. Edging is the simple invention that has evolved to combat the tendency of turf grasses to creep beyond the confines of an established lawn and into adjacent beds. Edging can refer to a physical barrier or the act of maintaining the border of the lawn manually.
Most lawn grasses spread via underground rhizomes or above-ground stolons. In other words, they do not stay where they were originally planted, though some species are more invasive than others. A newly planted lawn will slowly migrate into any adjacent planting area, where it ceases to be beautiful turf and becomes a aggressive weed in the eyes of gardeners. The rhizomes and stolons generally go no deeper then the depth of a shovel, however, meaning they can easily be prevented by trimming them as a part of the lawn maintenance routine or by installing a low barrier.
Flexible strips of wood, plastic or metal are a common form of edging because they can be easily molded into curved shapes and are relatively inexpensive and easy-to-install. They are generally 4 to 6 inches tall and come in lengths up to 20 feet. Stake them into place in a shallow trench at the edge of the turf so that the top of the edging is just above the soil line. This allows a mower to pass over the edging without cutting it, but puts most of the edging below ground where it acts as a barrier to the creeping grass.
Rigid Edging Options
For more of an architectural statement, use a form of rigid edging. Options include brick, concrete blocks, natural stone and dimensional lumber. These materials generally require more effort to install, but are highly visible and can be used as a attractive way to frame the lawn and define its shape in the overall landscape. Dig a trench to suit the size of the edging and lay a bed of aggregate base material as a foundation to enable the edging to be set at just the right level. The edging needs to extend at least several inches below grade to form a good grass barrier, but it can be installed so the top surface is near the soil line or several inches above. If it goes more than an inch or two above the soil, the edge of the grass will have to be maintained with a weed wacker.
Many people opt to go without formal edging and maintain the perimeter of their lawn by hand. Special edging tools are used for this purpose that resemble a shovel, but with a flat, straight blade that is sharp enough to slice through the turf. For maintaining larger lawns, gas-powered machines make the work easier. Finally, the same results can be achieved with herbicides. Chemical edging involves spraying the grass at the line where it needs to be contained with a chemical such as glyphosate.
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