Your lawn may be a beautiful expanse of lush, green grass, but if you haven’t edged properly, it won’t look all that great. If you don’t take a little time and effort, the strip of grass lining your walkways and skirting your driveway and flower beds will look sloppy.
But there’s good news. If you want a well-manicured lawn that’s easier to maintain, you just need to follow a few simple steps. This Old House will show you how to edge your lawn with a complete, easy-to-follow guide.
Step 1: Mow The Grass
Whenever you edge your lawn, you should always start off by mowing. That way, you’ll know how short or tall to trim your grass along the edges of your lawn. A general rule of thumb—never cut more than ⅓ of your grass blades at a time. You don’t want to cut your grass too low, or “scalp” it. That can result in bare patches and weak grassroots.
Step 2: Plan The Path
Especially if this is your first time edging, it’s a good idea to delineate your planned path with tape, a hose, or rope to show you where you’ll make your edging cuts. Don’t be tempted to use spray paint—it could get windy, or you may miss.
But if you are simply edging along sidewalks and don’t feel this is necessary, you can skip it altogether.
Step 3: Choose An Edger
Now, it’s time to choose your edger—power or manual. Power edgers, like string trimmers, will get the job done faster, but manual edgers will give you more control.
String trimmers are often used as edgers, and some are called trimmers/edgers. These lightweight power tools can come in electric, gas, corded, or cordless form. They feature a long shaft with a spinning head at the bottom. The spinning head uses a monofilament string to create centrifugal force that cuts through grass and weeds.
Gas trimmers work best for large lawns, and electric trimmers are more environmentally friendly. Cordless trimmers are portable and lightweight, and run on batteries.
There are different kinds of manual edgers. They require you to put more effort in, and the work often takes longer, but can be more precise.
- Landscaping Edgers: These have a 3-4 foot shaft with a half-moon steel blade at the bottom, with footrests on either side. These are best used for removing grass and sod growing over a pathway or driveway, or for removing turf next to a flower bed. There are also manual edgers with wooden shafts, which are lighter than their steel counterparts.
- Dual Wheel Rotary Edgers: Dual wheel rotary edgers feature serrated blades attached to one side of a rubber wheel. That side slices through grass growing over the edges of driveways and walkways, while the other wheel rolls along the grass.
- Edging Shears: Edging shears are primarily used for touch-ups. Homeowners use them to remove any excess turf from their lawn’s edge.
Step 4: Put On Safety Gear
Put on a sturdy pair of gloves and a pair of safety glasses to shield your eyes from grass, pollen, and any debris. You can also wear a face mask to protect your nose and mouth if you are sensitive to allergens.
Step 5: Edge The Perimeter
Now, the edging begins. Before you get started, make sure you know where any electrical wires, plumbing pipes, or other buried hazards may be. You don’t want to risk cutting into them with your edger, so make sure to give them a wide berth.
You may want to do a practice edge to get familiar with the movements. We recommend doing that in a part of your lawn that isn’t too visible, or your backyard.
Edging With A String Trimmer
You’ll want to flip the head of the trimmer 180 degrees, making it vertical, with the deflector shield facing toward your body. Walk on the hard surface of the walkway or driveway as you edge.
The form you should take is simple. Keep your arms straight, engage your core, and move your body with deliberate movements, keeping the string trimmer level. This will give you the straightest edge. Be mindful of the direction your string trimmer spins, and move accordingly. Most of them spin the string clockwise, so you should move left to right while trimming—the trimmings will fall back onto the lawn.
For power edgers and manual edgers, cut just about 2 inches deep.
Edging With A Manual Edger
Using a manual edger is a lot like using a shovel. Drive it straight down into the ground with your feet, so the lip at the bottom touches the soil. Make sure it’s completely straight—that will make your edge more defined. Rock the edger side-to-side, then gently pull the handle back up.
Step 6: Check For Jagged Areas
Shovel up loose soil, turf, or mulch periodically as you go along, and place it in a wheelbarrow. Once you do this, you have a good sense of your edging—and can tell if there are any jagged areas you may need to go over again.
Step 7: Edge Garden Beds
Manual edgers may be your best bet when edging along curved garden beds, since they can create more fluid edges. Mark the area you want to edge, and follow the same steps for manual edging a perimeter. Go slow and steady, with deliberate movement.
Step 8: Prune and Trim Shrubs and Bushes
Once your perimeter and curved pathways are taken care of, take your edging shears and prune your shrubs and bushes. Going in small, regular sections will help make the shapes even.
Step 9: Clean Up Debris
After you’ve finished edging, use a stiff brush to clean all grass, soil, and residue from your trimmer, edger, or edging shears. If any debris dries and hardens, it will make it difficult to use the equipment the next time around.
Step 10: Maintain Your Lawn
After all that work, you’ll want to keep your lawn in tip-top shape. This Old House Reviews Team recommends hiring a professional lawn care company like TruGreen to handle your routine fertilization, aeration, weed control, and more.
Frequently Asked Questions About Edging Lawns
What is the best way to edge a lawn?
The best way to edge your lawn is to follow these 10 simple steps, starting with mowing and ending with maintenance. Be sure to choose the best edger—or edgers—for your lawn for the best results. Always try to walk on the hard surface, like your driveway or walkway, as you edge.
What is the best tool for edging a lawn?
There are a variety of tools to edge your lawn, from power edgers like string trimmers to manual edgers with half moon blades to even edging shears. The best tool will depend on your budget, the amount of time you have, and the shape of the edges you need to create.
How do I manually edge my lawn?
Treat your manual edger as you would a shovel. Drive it gently down into the ground, keeping it as straight as possible, with your feet, until the lip meets the soil. Rock the edger side-to-side, then gently pull the handle up to make your edge.
How can I edge my lawn without an edger?
You can start by lowering the cutting blade on your lawn mower and shave cleanly down your lawn. Then, you can install permanent lawn edging, often made of rubber or steel. Another option is laying down lawn edging pavers, which you place in a prepared trench.
Our Rating Methodology
To provide readers with the most objective, accurate, and detailed recommendations, the This Old House Reviews Team continually researches lawn care service companies on the market. We take the following steps to obtain up-to-date information about the industry and each company we review:
- Analyze more than 100 customer reviews from third-party review sites, such as Yelp, the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and Google Reviews, for each company
- Secret-shop for lawn care plans and packages to get a sense of cost, offered services, and the overall shopping experience for prospective customers
- Speak with representatives on the phone to simulate the customer service experience from each provider
- Update information on a regular basis to ensure the most accurate information when plans or services change with each company
We use the data from our research to build an in-depth rating system that allows us to score lawn care providers on a 100-point scale. Here are the factors in our evaluation and their designated scores:
- Plan options (30): As one of the most important factors for homeowners shopping for a lawn care service, this one is weighted heavily based on each company’s lawn coverage. Companies that offer more options, such as irrigation, weed control, seeding, and aeration services in addition to a general plan, score higher than others.
- Trustworthiness (30): Each company’s reputation is another significant factor for homeowners to consider before signing up for a plan. We scored providers based on their BBB score, accreditation, and offered guarantees available with each purchase.
- Additional Benefits (20): We gave extra points to companies that provide a few additional services and benefits with their offered plans, such as organic treatments, pest control services, and a mobile app for digital communication and plan management.
- Customer Service (10): In this rating category, we awarded points to customer-focused lawn care service providers who offer weekend availability and easy communication through phones, online chats, and online resources.
- Availability (10): We also scored companies based on their overall availability, rewarding those that are nationally available over local companies only operating in select cities or ZIP codes.
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