How to edge flower beds like a pro

Once upon a time, my gardener brother showed me how to edge flowerbeds like a pro. And I’ve been doing it ever since.

Every so often I get asked how I do it and maintain those edges. So I’m sharing my (brother’s) secrets today.

Does this look familiar? It happens to the best of us. Mess meets sunken treasure.

pallet walkway via Funky Junk Interiors

And just like my pallet walkway post, you’ll do it if you blog about it, yes? YES!

Not pretty. Everything’s a little overgrown and the soil is the same height as the lawn. Let’s fix it!

(my bad for taking photos in the bright sunlight; overcast days are better, I just didn’t want to wait)

How to cut pro edges for your flower beds

1. Cut a fresh edge on the grass side of your flowerbed with a half moon edger.

Just like cutting cake. I like to hop on both sides at the same time, one jump at a time like a pogo stick.

2. Scoop out the cut chunks of turf.

I like to beat off as much soil as possible, then flip them upside down in the compost pile. If upside down, the grass will die and the works will turn into mulch/soil. If right side up, you’ll grow a new chunk of lawn in the compost. Then you’ll have to edge that… (kidding) (sort of)

Here’s the big deep dark secret. Trench your soil on the side of the cut, then hill it upwards.

A trench creates a place for water to drain and soil to fall. And offers a shadow for a nice clean look. You wait and see!

3. With hand held clippers, trim your grassy edges horizontally and vertically for a nice sharp haircut.

Yes, you can do it with a weed wacker upside down but you will NOT get this quality of an edge. Ever. It’s like using a steak knife to give yourself a haircut.

And then stand back and GASP at your awesomeness.

Ok, and water the soil too before you take pictures so it looks rich and full of nutrients.

Tip #1: when you cut edges, attempt curvy shapes vs. straight. Round is more natural, just like nature.

Tip #2: if you curve, ensure the curves will accommodate your lawnmower size. If your curves are too tight, you have to keep repositioning the mower.

 Aren’t those flowerbed edges pretty?

Here’s a little illustration in hopes that it makes more sense if my first try didn’t fly.

How to maintain

Keep the edges trimmed every time you mow. And if the edges get overgrown a little, you can always recut new edges to start over again.

How to mow? I push the lawn mower along the edge, stop, rotate towards the soil, touch down,  then straighten again. I do this all along the edges to reduce the need to edge by hand horizontally.

If Jenna’s happy, I’m happy! NEXT.

I think you should blog about your work. It appears to be… working.

Take my 2011 FULL garden tour (as seen above)

Do you edge? What are your secrets?

 

Funky Junk’s other all time TOP garden junk hits:

Rustic garden shed from fence boards via FunkyJunkInteriors.net

Rustic shed from fence boards

Pallet wood walkway instantly! via FunkyJunkInteriors.net

Pallet wood walkway

Pallet wood sofa, so easy to make! via FunkyJunkInteriors.net

2 pallet outdoor sofa – so easy to make!

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  1. What a timely post! I’ve recently noticed that the garden needs new crisp edges, but rather than digging in, I’ve ignored it, preferring to take bike rides instead….promising to get to it later. You’ve given me the incentive to get to work. Thanks to you, and to your brother for sharing!

  2. Great tutorial. Thanks for the info. I would love to know the names of some of the flowers that you have in this area. Thanks for sharing. Have a great week.

  3. I edge all of my beds too. I use a shovel – it just works easier for me (maybe it’s th soil too). It takes a while but sooo worth it! Thanks for the tips on trimming – I will certainly be doing that. What a difference!
    Brenda

  4. We did this with an “edger” machine we rented when we first did our garden beds, but they have slowly grown back. Great tip on how to refresh that look again! I’m gonna go do that today.

  5. Hey Donna! the garden edges look wonderful.
    So… what if you don’t have grass?
    we have a brick side walk out front and a concrete patio pavers in the back… would you cut next to the brick and make that straight? and hill up towards the dirt/ or grass? away from the concrete?

    I’m going to try this. It can’t hurt and hopefully it will make it all look so much nicer!

    Pat

  6. Oh how I wish creeping charlie would follow the rules! (or die already!!) I trench. It still does what it wants! Someday I will win the battle! Great post and truly a fantastic idea.

  7. I noticed your garden bed edges in the background of your “pallet walkway redo”. I had garden edge envy, thanks for the tutorial on how to achieve this. clean crisp look.

  8. Donna,
    This is brilliant!!! Now can you come and do mine?Seriously I must be doing something wrong.I do this every year and it never looks as nice as yours.What kind of edger is that?Where did you buy it?Maybe I am using the wrong kind.
    ((Hugs))
    Anne

  9. Thanks Anne! It’s nothing fancy, just a standard schmandard half moon edger. Stomp down straight down for nice clean cuts further into the grassy side and you’ll achieve your desired edge.

  10. Donna that is the way my daddy edged. I learned from him and that is how my flowerbeds look too.
    I edge far enough out so my hubby can mow and then you never have to weed eat. O.K. rarely.
    Your soil looks so loose and rich, not like ours at all. Your beds and walkway look very nice and neat. Good job!!!

  11. This is a really helpful post! I always wondered how master gardeners always get and maintain that perfect edge in their lawns!! How often do you mulch your flower beds? Is there a rule of thumb there?

  12. Just like my Dad has always done his! They look amazing!!! Your garden is lovely, too! I am so jealous. Here is So Cal everything is a dry and crispy brown color unless it’s being watered by underground sprinkler systems.

    I love the grape leaf looking plant on the right in the last photo. Are they grapes, ir some type of grape ivy?

    Your dog looks very content!

    xo-Lisa

  13. You have no idea how helpful this is! I hate to admit it, but my yard looks so bad that all my neighbors love it since it makes theirs look better by comparison! LOL! Between keeping up with my job at Dish and the rest of the household, I can never find the time to even hire landscapers. You’ve laid out all the steps so simply that I don’t have an excuse anymore. It’s time to give my yard a facelift! Thanks for including detailed tips and instructions too. Most gardening blogs only show you the finished product, which is annoying for people like me who rely on instructions to do anything! I usually get all my gardening information from HGTV just so I can record it and rewind if I missed a step or good tip. Luckily, I have the Hopper DVR with tons of money to house all my shows and everything else the rest of my family wants to record, since I am the only one interested in home stuff. I’ve never tackled a project this big, so I’m a little scared. Wish me luck!

  14. Love the tutorial. You must not have snakes! I love this look but because we’re in the South have many wild animals that like to creep and hide under things. I do keep my liriope trimmed somewhat like this when I can avoid the intense sun we have. Jealous!!

  15. My own system is a little different. I have some sifted compost or sifted manure in a wheelbarrow. I put the milkcrate that I used (1/2″ holes) atop that. Using a flat spade, I make an edge with that and put the soil & weeds/sod into the sifter & shake & it falls atop the compost in the wheelbarrow. What doesn’t go thru the holes (sod/weeds/rocks/ plants) gets added to the compost pile/bin. Sometimes I find plants that I replant in empty spots. When the wheelbarrow gets pretty full, I mix it up and fill in the gouges I’ve made. I step on the soil mix I have put down & make sure it is level with the grass so my hubby doesn’t scalp the grass edges.

  16. I used to use the ugly black plastic edger to keep the grass and weeds out of my flower gardens but found that bender board works and looks better.

  17. Thanks, that looks gorgeous! My only question is how do you keep grass from growing around the plants? Did you hoe it all down or did you use landscape cloth around the plants?

  18. Yep, this is the only way to get that professional look. Our previous home was landscaped by a Master Gardener here in Seattle. Beautiful flower beds, but edging them baffled me for the first two years. Then we visited Bouchart Gardens in Vancouver, B.C. and I saw them edging their miles and miles of flower beds. The half moon edger is key. I keep the edges “tidy” with a line trimmer and ‘edge’ with the half-moon at the top of each spring or when necessary. Thanks for sharing this!

  19. Just a word of warning. Do not try this if you have a slope to your flower bed. The rains took the soil down into the little ” valley”, and then followed the slight slope towards my paving stones and into my rock walkway and towards my water feature. What a mess to clean up.

  20. Excellent! I’m going out now to trim the climbing vines! I have some “hints’ to add. You can use a garden hose to outline the area, Home Depot has this walk edger thing. It’s like a sharp blade on the end of this metal stick (so you just walk along stepping on the cutting thing). It cuts about 4″-5″ deep. Case abandoned run down properties (those that have the roofs caving in from 1810). You can dig up a bunch of neat plants there. I got a lot of ivey from the funeral homes overflow parking area :-)

    Also, this “trench” you speak of….. I wonder if you could add black mulch to keep it from weeding up (?).

  21. Hi – the trouble with my flower beds/grass edge is that the grass seems to recede! so I am getting bigger and bigger flower beds! Any advice?

  22. What I want to know is how you keep that beautiful Husky contained with a four foot fence! :) Mine would be over that and off to the races!

  23. Excellent tutorial, Donna! Thanks SO much for sharing your expertise! Step-by-step instructions with beautiful pics are so helpful! I can’t wait to begin!

  24. LOVE IT! Looks easy enough. I’m heading to Lowe’s to get an edger today! Thanks for the “pin-spiration!” LOL

  25. I tried that but then when my riding lawnmower tires roll along the edge it smashes it all down and so it doesn’t work for me.

    • What I do to mow around the edges…

      I’ll move the lawnmower forward, stop, then rotate towards the cut, tap down, straighten, and move forward again, repeating the tapping motions all along the cut edges. No issues with smashed down grass!

  26. Thank you for posting this! I am getting ready for my yardwork and am pretty excited. I think I always did this the opposite. I love the way your edging looks, I hope mine comes out this nice!! Does it take a long time to cut with the scissors? I have a lot of edging.

    Lynne

  27. Hi
    Love your pic’s and was wondering if you could tell me what the name of the plant in the picture that is red? It is in the last picture on the left hand side.

    Thanks I am inspired!

  28. Hi Donna I am re-reading this as I am gearing to get ready to do this.I have a question do you mulch or add anything or just keep the dirt? We have an open field next door to our home and we need to keep it mulched or stone.We decided on stone because we get allot of wind.Just wondering how to keep this neat looking with stone.Any advice would be greatly appreciated :-)
    xx
    Anne

    • @ Anne: after having selected and prepared a location for landscaping, I added soil to create a slightly sloped mound, trenched out the edging as described by Donna and than laid down weed fabric all over the mound down to the base of the trench. Afterward I cut “X’s” into the fabric where I plan to plant something than I red cedar wood mulch a circle around the base of each planting Than I laid down large potatoe size white river rocks (mini boulders) all along the trench as a visual border, about 12-14 inches wide. I also used the white river rock to create a circle around the red cedar wood mulch of each planting as an added visual layer (about 5-8 inches wide depending on plant size). The final step was dumping 1/4 inch red rocks on the rest of the uncovered portions of weed fabric.

    • Hey Anne! With stone, you’d just need to remove more soil so the stone has room. I’ve done it with lava rock before and while it works, it is trickier.

      Pirro’s comment to your question is really awesome! I don’t think I can better that advice. :)

  29. Thank you! I’ve been looking for a how-to on this forever! This explained it so much in detail for a novice like. I can’t wait til morning to try this in my yard.

    • Oh I’m glad I found this! I have done this once, but needed a refresher..I’ve been upkeeping it with a weedeater/edger but it never looks as good as when you do it like this..especially when it’s grown out over the winter. I need to use mulch in my bed and prefer cedar mulch. Do you know where I should start the mulch? I suppose I should not put mulch in the trench or that defeats the whole purpose, correct?

      • Hey Katie! In order to put mulch down, you’ll need to dig away more soil. Definitely leave the trench empty then just mound the mulch up and away from the trench. Should work just fine!

  30. This is supremely motivating. It is so easy and so logical – a little like “why didn’t I think of that”

    Now I need the motivation. That is not hard, just needs the right time. Thanks for the lovely pictures.

  31. good morning I lve this look where do I buy the shovel for the edging to do the job right. thank you so much.

  32. Thanks a bunch, I just had some fantastic top soil delivered and cant wait to get dirty this weekend :0)

  33. Just the inspiration I needed to get my beds under control!
    Your garden looks great!
    Thank you!

  34. Thank you for the tutorial. I was so confused about, how to even begin! You explained it so well! I pinned it so other beginners with edging could use your site! Thank you, your blog is awesome!!!

  35. Thank You, it’s what I have been asking everyone. Now I know, the trick will be if I can do it as nice as you have your garden

  36. Love it!!! I used to do this, but I haven’t gardened properly for years due to back pain and post natal depression. I forgot what made me happy in the garden and this type of finish reeeeealy does. Your great at tutorials too . I’m now off to edge my compost bin lol

  37. I am about to do a complete over haul of my front and back yard. This tip will make it soooooo much easier when I get the beds going. Thank you so much!

  38. You are amazing!! I’m going to attempt this “neat” project as soon as possible! Thanks!! and double thanks!!!!

  39. Thank you for your detailed example of flower bed egding. I just went out and tried it myself and it worked perfectly. Robyn

  40. Thank you so very much for the simple instructions to this amazingly easy technique that costs virtually nothing!

        • Sure thing Liu!

          Push the lawnmower along the edge, but a bit at a time. With each stop, turn and tap towards the cut, then straighten and push forward again. Repeat until you’ve cleared the edge. Then go over the vertical cut edge with hand clippers for a super clean finish.

          I hope that makes sense! I think I’ll have to do a video on this entire procedure one day soon….

  41. I AM PARTIALLY DISABLED AND LIVE WITH MY ELDERLY MOTHER BUT LOVE GARDENING AND YARD WORK, BUT IT HAS TO BE EASY. I HAVE MADE OUR SMALL FRONT YARD INTO A “ROCK” AREA AND HAVE PLACED POTTED PLANTS ON THE ROCK INSTEAD OF PLANTING EACH YEAR AND WEEDING ALL THE TIME. THE ONLY PROBLEM I HAVE AT THIS TIME IS THAT THE FRONT YARD ENDS AT THE PUBLIC SIDEWALK AND I DO NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO ABOUT A SIMPLE AND EASY BORDER THAT I CAN PLACE TO KIND OF GIVE IT THAT ‘BOUNDARY’ FEEL. DO YOU HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS? I HAVE TWO SECTIONS THAT ARE THREE SIDED, EACH SIDE IS 6′ BY 14′ BY 20′. WHAT DO YOU THINK? I WOULD GREATLY APPRECIATE ANY ADVISE OR COST EFFICIENT IDEAS THAT WILL BE EASY FOR ME TO DO ON MY OWN TO SERVE THE PURPOSE THAT I AM LOOKING FOR. THANK YOU,

    MARCIA TESTER,
    WEST VIRGINIA

  42. Your garden is so beautiful!!! Thanks for this great tutorial, the illustration at the end really helped me! I can’t wait to buy an edger and try this! :-)

  43. This really ties into the natural element of the river.

    Ornamental grasses and native wildflowers provide refuge to wildlife and add maintenance-free vegetation to your outdoor space.

    Popular materials include from concrete, asphalt, pavers, brick, and natural stone.

  44. Very nice job , Sister… wow , you did good explaining yourself and it was not over done. i t was just down to earth, cutting the earth. And i liked your cut ups, making jokes. i could work next to you as a team member. thanks again, John in Ohio

    • Dear Pro Garden Edger,
      I paid a landscaper $3K to do this to my front yard. He edged the beds as I described them to him. He planted the flowers covered the beds with ground cover and mulch. When I came home the mulch was not the color I had chosen, but because he took so long to show up (late summer) in drought season. The ground cover started to appear throught the mulch in many places. Some pieces flapped in the wind. The mulch washed down from the beds into the little gully he had made while edging the beds. It became clogged with the mulch and has weeds growing through the mulch. I slightly pulled back the ground cover to find that it hadn’t been fastened with cover “u” pins and the ground cover was mostly remnant pieces. Do you have any idea how much mulch should be put down so that weeds won’t grow through it? I feel it could either be not enough mulch was put down, or because “u” pins weren’t used, they’re just popping through areas they find open. My neighbors had another landscaper create flower beds for them and opted not to have the ground cover material and they’ve never had a weed in their beds. The young tree and the bush in the front yard have mulch piled high all around their bases. I thought if that was done, the water wouldn’t be able to wick away from the bark. I’ve already paid for the complete job and after reading your easy fix I feel like I’d rather do it myself and get it right. Am I just misinformed? It looks as though an amateur created the flower beds, now. Shame on me for not asking how often the beds would need to be maintained. I guess any nice yard takes work. I don’t mind that but I do mind paying for something I didn’t get. Thanks for listening. What type of sheers did you say that are needed for cutting the grass along the edge? Thanks for thisw forum to ask questions. Kindest regards, Nancy B.

      • Hey Nancy! I’m by far no pro, but I’m sorry to hear your project didn’t go as planned.

        You can do this project yourself, but I won’t lie, it’ll make you sweat. :) But I agree, it requires maintenance just like anything else we do, so know going in, that what you’ll create will be wonderful, but it will require constant trimming.

        I don’t use any special tools. If you go into any garden centre, ask them which ones would be best for trimming grass to create nice sharp edges. It pays to purchase quality sheers and also ask for a sharpening stone or ? The blades need attention on a regular basis in order to accomplish nice sharp cuts.

  45. Thanks for the instruction! Worked like a charm! Btw I was a little afraid of buying the edger when I was checking it out at Home Depot but is was very easy to use.

  46. I’ve always done my yards like that. Thank you for sharing. Each year I wondered if people who saw me doing it thought I was crazy… it’s finally nice to know someone else out there does edging like me. And yes they are Perfect! :)

  47. Beautiful ,thanks for the tips ! Now we can all have fully manicured garden beds ! Theres nothingmore beautiful ! Makes a neighborhood a step above the rest! Its free !

  48. Another unexpected tool that can be helpful is an old steak knife. (There are always tons for sale at thrift stores and garage sales.) Use it to do any finer detail edging that you need. If there was a funky angle in your curve from using the half moon edger, just slice the sod away with the knife. The serrations make it easy to cut through! It’s one of the best sod tools around. :)

  49. Your garden is so beautiful….I’m about to go try to edge like a pro. But….my question to you is how are you keeping weeds and grass from growing in your garden beds?

  50. I use this all of the time. It works too! My neighbors have a yard full of creeping Charlie. I trench just on my side of the property line over the fence & it keeps it out. This works!! I would prefer this type of landscaping vs. hard scaping. It’s easy to change the shape of your garden if you need to make it bigger, or need to change something. Last weekend I made my existing garden about 1 ft. wider, it only took an hour or so!!

  51. Donna, you are a gal after my heart! I loved the flower bed, that is my obsession. Every year I try to create something new…I love your junk too!
    Blessings to you!

  52. These are the kind of tips I need. I have just the area in my front yard that could use this treatment and I plan to use it. Pray I have the strength and energy to do it! Thanks so much it looks so professional!

  53. You can actually edge flowerbeds with a sharpened knife, a dinner knife with a good handle is ideal. This gives an even neater cut than an edger and it’s no more difficult to cut the lawn than a Christmas cake! The cut sod can be under cut with a spade or trowel.

  54. Hi Donna!

    Beautiful edging job…I do mine the exact same way! The only thing I do differently is to use a narrow hand trowel and really clean up that “gutter” (I have a lot of clay so it’s necessary). Glad to know I’m not the only one to try and knock off as much dirt as possible from the lifted grass. I’m sure my neighbors think I’m nuts! I bought my house last year after it had been vacant for over a year. It was a real mess, but is really looking beautiful now! Still much to do!!!!

    Love your posts! Love your garden!!!

  55. Donna,

    Re: Question. Home landscaping, protecting lampost flowers from deer and rabbits (without chemicals)

    Great job on your edging gardening tip! I’ve been trimming bushes and edging lawns since I was 14 yrs old! After 35 years, all these gardening tips look and sound the same. However, your blog, made it look like fun…with fantastic results. Fun graphics and sharp photos! Keep up the great work.

    Any hints on how to drap a lamp post with invisible netting (like they do at the malls) to keep away small critters? I live in Maryland.

    Have a Great Weekend.

    MGM

  56. Thanks….I am giving this a try on the next area. My lawn guy told me this is the way they do edges to keep mulch from falling back into the lawn, but have encountered problems with this on a slope.

  57. Donna….although I do my own edging as well, I have to say you do a much better job than I. The beds are beautifully done and I love all the color combos and garden ornaments. Can you be my neighbor???

  58. Great info. I live on 2 acres that is fully landscaped, which I maintain. I have lots of beds, but I love the crisp edge between the grass and soil and try to create it. In the past, I have used a very sharp knife to create the edge, but I will try your idea this summer.
    Thanks again.

  59. I will be using this method on my beds this year, even though I am on 2 acres. The beds will look gorgeous! Thanks for the info.

  60. Hi Donna. I love your wood plank walkway and your garden edging. Your accent pieces and look have inspired me with decorating ideas for my small retail store where I sell wild bird supplies. Thanks for the tips and inspiration. And I must say, your ability to inject little tip templates and your funky junk interiors name on all your photos has impressed me, too! Thanks, Donna and keep up the good your giving!

    Marie

    • Hi Michael, not at all! I guess we have exceptional drainage because that’s never happened. As long as the soil remains fluffed up, there’s always a place for the water to run I suppose!

  61. Will try this idea. I have a terrible time with my beds. BTW – love your sweet doggie! Mine help me outside, too!

  62. I’m new to gardening…bought a house last summer and I’ve got much to learn…please explain how you trench the soil away. It’s your tip about the “big deep dark secret. Trench your soil on the side of the cut, then hill it upwards” that I’m a little unsure how to do!

    Visually (in the graphic) it looks like you are removing the soil closest to the grassy edge…are you then moving that same soil further back onto the garden bed to create the trench? Are you using a hand trowel to make the trench?

    In desperate need of edged flower beds!
    Thanks,
    Lisa

      • Donna, are you saying if I have bark mulch in my bed to leave the trench empty of mulch, and mound the dirt up towards the bark edge of the bed

        thank you!

        • Hey Larry! Just replace the soil with mulch. Do the same things. Although with mulch, you’ll need to dig away soil to allow enough room for the mulch.

          The deal is to have that nice looking trench. That’s the key to making a super clean, beautiful edge. It’ll look awesome!

  63. dear Donna! thanks ever so much for this posting. i just needed to see this done in your garden and will try to do it in mine next week! i will post on my blog. will be german though ;)
    greetings from Austria!

  64. 1: When cutting your new edge on the grassy side, cut deep.
    2: Make sure you have a wheelbarrow handy, those chunks are heavy.
    3: Every 2 years or so add new rich soil to your flowerbed.
    4: Use kneepads (found at your big box garden center stores)

    Tony :)

  65. I just finished edging my beds and my sidewalks when I saw this on Pinterest! Love LOVE LOVE a nice clean edge.

    Here is my hint for laying out a nice curve that is lawnmower friendly. Take your garden hose and lay out your curve. Push or drive your mower next to it and see if it will easily navigate the curve. When you have it laid out right, just use the hose as your guide and edge it.

  66. Thank you, I’m not much of a gardener but I plan to try this, it looks like something I could actually do to make my beds look better.

  67. Love the pictures and tutorial, had tried this in the past but your tips will make it better when I do it again. Love your mix of flowers and garden items. Thanks

  68. Great work! The edges look so clean and professional, something I need to do around my deck. I was wondering though, could you cut in the soil, then place pavers around the inside of the edge?
    LOVE your husky btw!! I have a husky of my own. What beauties they are :)

  69. I love all your ideas. You remind me of my mother with all your creative ideas. Keep putting them online

  70. I’ve always wanted to know how to edge my landscaping so that it looks professional. Yours is beautiful! I love it. Thank you for the help. I can’t wait to start mine! Thanks again!

  71. I love how your Jenna crosses her front paws. My golden does the same thing. I hope I’ll be taking a photo of him relaxing, cross-pawed, by my soon-to-be lovely edged borders. Thanks for the tutorial.

  72. Thanks. I need to go out and ‘edge’ deeper! Love the pallet wood walkway too! Hopefully I can locate some. :)

  73. I am on my way to buy a half moon edger! thanks so much for sharing this. I just created a small flower bed and I wanted that look but did not know how. borrowed an metal blade edger to make the curved cut but it was like you said, no edge or trench! I cant wait to try this tool!
    Nadyne