Favorite Tools: Edging iron

By Michael Leach

Those who share my desire for an organized, orderly environment — some dismiss us as mere control freaks — should consider investing in an edging iron.

Edging is the landscape equivalent of tucking in a shirttail, pinning back stray hairs and putting scattered papers into a straight stack.

A landscape designer I spoke with recently said, “If you have crisp, clean edging, it makes everything else just pop.”

Indeed it does. I started popping my landscape decades ago, after being introduced to edginess by a friend even more concerned about neatness than I.

Not long after this encounter, I visited England and beheld the epitome of crisp and clean. The English apparently use lasers guided by celestial navigational devices to surgically slice edges. Then they trim the grass with manicuring scissors. On this side of the pond, our coarse grass precludes British perfection, unless one opts for putting turf as lawn — standard grass over there. But I digress.

Edging is serious work. But the reward is almost instant gratification. Where once the lawn and border mingled in unseemly disarray, a clear boundary is set.

This is important for me, because my desire for neatness doesn’t extend to most of the borders and beds. They are packed with a hodge-podge of plants for an exuberant effect that is lost on a few. “What a jungle!” gasped one first-time visitor, who has yet to receive a second invitation.

Regardless of your landscape style, an edge brings crispness only for a time. Unfortunately nature abhors an edge almost as much as a vacuum. Rain and freezing weather erode it. Grass, clover and other insurgents sneak down the edge to invade beds. Meanwhile, the ornamental plants toss seeds or send runners into the gutter where a base camp is established for the lawn invasion.

To thwart these schemes, my edges are more like trenches dug several inches deep. Semiannual digging suffices for all but the most-seen parts of the landscape. Maybe someday I shall budget for permanent metal edging. So far, my desire for neatness hasn’t overcome another trait — frugality.


2 responses to “Favorite Tools: Edging iron

  1. Caye Aiello

    Loved your note on edging, Michael – laughed and commiserated at the same time! Caye

  2. Janet Panecki

    “What a jungle” is a compliment in my book- I love a chock-full garden border- nothing succeeds like excess!

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