We assume you’re ALL out in the garden getting it ready for the new season and are well on your way to having your borders cleaned up. (To summarize spring clean-up, it’s removing dead plant material, hacking back ornamental grasses, weeding and mulching.)
But there’s one other chore that has a huge impact in the garden and that’s creating edges to your borders that are nice to look at – either straight lines or gently curving ones, depending on your taste – and a barrier to turfgrass and border plants encroaching on each other’s space. And we all know how that encroachment looks by mid-summer, right?
So creating and maintaining clean edges is a big topic among gardeners, one I’m asked about frequently. Usually the asker is trying to avoid the expense of bricks or stone, like the lovely ones you see above, not to mention the extra work required after mowing. Yes, this pretty edge IS high-maintenance, requiring the gardener to use clippers of some type to trim the grass along it because mowers can’t get close enough to those stones.
Some people have had success with plastic or metal edging that’s pounded into the soil, allowing the mower to trim right over it, and I say whatever works. But if you don’t like that look or don’t want to have to buy it, there’s another, totally natural way to edge, the way I recommend and used in my own garden when I had a lawn.
Those Victorians got it Right
Behold the “Victorian trench,” and I’ll never know why it’s called that because we don’t usually associate the word “Victorian” with anything naturalistic. It does what edging needs to do — holds back the lawn from the garden and the garden from the lawn — without being an eyesore in the garden.
It’s easy. Just take a flat-edged shovel and dig straight down 3 inches along the outer edge of the lawn. Then dig a second slice that’s at a 45-degree in the direction of the border or bed. So you’ll end up with a trench that’s straight downward on the lawn side and angled up to the border. Remove the extra soil. Then mulch the border, allowing some mulch to cover the slope of your new edge, and voila — you’ve got an edge that looks spiffy but natural.
How to Maintain It
Okay, here’s the downside. It needs to be spruced up at least once a year. That means removing any grass on the border side, border plants on the grass side, and re-digging the edge as needed. But hey, even hard plastic edges allow for the occasional movement of plants in the wrong direction, and they’re known to pop up and need maintenance to keep them in place.
Also, think of all the maintenance saved by not having to hand-trim grass along the edge, since the mower wheels can be directed into the edge or along the top of the border to ensure mowing of the whole lawn.
Another pretty example of natural edging.
Posted by Susan Harris.