Campbell River, British Columbia 
 Gardening in Campbell River

Garden Thoughts for November

Edging: The Lazy Gardener’s Friend

It may seem like a contradiction, but sometimes a little extra work now can save or eliminate a lot of work later on. Edging is one of those tasks.

There’s something magical about a perfectly neat interface between lawn and garden bed. Even though the lawn may be less than perfect, and the garden bed a big mess of weeds,
if the edging is neat and tidy, the overall garden looks wonderfully cared for.

There are several schools of thought concerning edges. Advocates of the weed trimmer prefer a raised edge against the lawn. These people happily surround every garden bed with raised concrete curbs and landscaping ties, then weed whack against the curbs. Due to the
nature of these building materials, the gardens tend to be laid out in squared shapes. Can you tell this isn’t my preferred style? I’m always amazed by how many yards you see like this around town.

The other main category of edging has the barrier set slightly below the level of the lawn. A typical example of this is where grass abuts a concrete driveway, and it’s by far the easiest to manage. The lawnmower just mows over the edge with two wheels on the paving. A couple of
times a year, (or more if you like) a half-moon edging tool can be used to trim back the grass.
In my dream garden, I would have a brick or paving stone border between all garden and lawn areas. It would be slightly lower than the lawn, as described above, so mowing and edging would be a breeze. In some areas I would widen the edge to 3 or 4 feet to make a path that the plants could overhang, though in most areas I’d leave it a 8 inches to keep it unobtrusive.

The garden layout could be as curvy as I wished, as much for ease of mowing as for visual reason. Ah, if only...

In reality, I have very few bricked edges, because brick or stone is way to rich for my budget. In a few areas I’ve used concrete paving slabs as an edge, and this has worked well, but it’s not cheap either. If using concrete pavers, avoid the grey and also the ‘brick’ coloured ones,
which are a bright cherry red. The pavers called ‘tan’ are actually brick coloured. Go figure.
Hardware stores have a variety of plastic edging for use around lawns, but I wouldn’t recommend it. If you set it above ground, to weed-eat against, it will get run over by the mower, covered in grass clippings, and generally look like hell. If you set it discretely below the lawn level, the grass will grow merrily over it within a few weeks. If you insist on the plastic edging (as many people do), please, at least buy the black rather than the bright

The last style of edging, and the most economical, is the hill and valley method. The edge of the lawn is cleanly sliced off (with the half moon edger again), and the soil is 3-4 inches lower on the garden bed side, sloping back up into the bed. If the top of the bed is at the same
level as the lawn, then the valley will only be about 4-6 inches. Choose plants to grow along this edge with care.

Things like Hostas and ornamental grasses will drape over the lawn, but you should still be able to mow under them. A trim with long handled edging shears once every month or two will keep this edge looking neat. When you weed your garden bed (once or twice a year, in my case), you can slide your trowel along the original cut edge, and remove any encroaching grass, or buttercups, or clover, etc. It’s not maintenance free, but then no garden worth
looking at it is totally free from work. The idea is to make it as easy as possible, freeing
yourself up to enjoy life just a little more.

Karen Barber is an architectural and landscape designer in Campbell River.

Her company is Madrona Design, which sponsors this Gardening in Campbell River webpage.

 Check out her site as she has added a discussion page to her website.
Like a BB where people can post questions etc. get there by clicking on the button below...

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