Bordering on the Edge

Once of the most monotonous, tedious, slow and pain-staking jobs in the garden is to do the border edging. It’s also the most rewarding.

I hate doing it but I love the results.

A very fine line

I’m all about strict, sharp, well-defined border edges. Grass runs up to a sharp divide-line from where-on the ground is classed as border. There is no ambiguity, it’s one or the other, no “neutral zone”, no gentle transition; it’s a cut off; simple as that.

Mind the gap

Unfortunately, birds scrabbling around in the soil, weathering, weeds, worms and insects all conspire to smudge this sharp line. Creeping buttercup and grass will happily run off into the rich border soil, while birds will fling border soil onto the grass in search of food.

Edging ever onwards

At least once a year I need to sit down and thoroughly re-do the edging, taking grass and escaped weeds away from the edges and sides of the border and pulling the border soil back away from the edge, reinstating the divide. The final line is finished with the half-moon lawn-edger.

It takes ages and there’s miles of it to do. I don’t have a plastic or metal edge – though I’ve thought about it a lot – so it’s all mud and all by hand.

But it really does look good when it’s done.

A “before” shot

Oddly, while the border edging might be pristine and sharp, I’m very happy for the border plants to simply flop over onto the grass in the summer months and obscure it completely (crazy isn’t it?).

Border edging is a winter job as that’s when the distinction between border and grass is most visible, especially after the spent herbaceous perennials have been cut back. I’ll also need to do it at least once during the summer, to stop the weeds in the grass from racing off into the border and doing silly things.

Miles and miles of edging

In the previous garden I used to use a green plastic edging, but found that it went brittle after a few years and wasn’t as good as I hoped it would be in retaining a sharp edge. I’ve looked at metal edging and found it to be eye-wateringly expensive, but it does look good and the results I’ve seen where it is used in public areas means it would be just as good in this garden; but if I wanted to use it to edge the borders I shouldn’t have moved into part-time work.

Birds being little terrors

While I dither about putting an edge in to make the job easier, I’ll just have to continue on in the mean-time as usual, slowly working along the edge, shuffling along gradually, bit by bit, making my way around all the borders, trying to keep from going insane as I think of how many miles of edging there is left to go.


  1. All my borders have “slabbed” edges, which I really like. However, due to a large expanse of grass between the car parking and the house, visitors often look round, spot the slabbing, and gallop sideways across the grass to the edging and attempt to walk neatly on it down to the house!! Good luck with your edging, I understand why you like the look of it – I just can’t be arsed myself :o).


    1. Hello Mrs Mac, I have thought about brick-edging the borders as I’m not going to be changing their shape – they’re set now. Some areas of high-traffic (even with just two people) have the grass worn out and taking a long time to recover I was also thinking about laying slabs over those to cut down on the edging work too. Unfortunately, I think brick edging needs flat ground to work well and look good, and my garden slopes in several directions, which is just annoying and typical.


  2. I used to maintain my borders the same way but I enjoyed it. It was mindless, repetitive work and I could let my mind wander while my body worked. I loved the result, too. My new garden has brick paths and the borders in the back shade garden are purposely a bit fuzzy. If I lived closer, I’d come help! I will be in England again this summer. :o)


    1. I like the boring and mindless work for a short while, but when the whole job takes many days it becomes a real drag to get through the lot in less than a few weeks. I had had to take a break from it at the moment as the weather is bad (too wet) but I’m back to it as soon as the sun comes out. I might be introducing brick paths to save on the edging in some areas. Keep me posted on your summer plans!


  3. I agree that sharp borders are essential. I find that my weed whacker is very helpful with the chore of keeping them nice and neat.


    1. Hello Jason, I have wondered about using a strimmer but I’d still have to dig the soil back and away from the edge and re-do the side (with the lawn edger) – that’s the tedious bit. To keep the grass neat I just use the lawn mover, though it doesn’t make the edge as sharp as it would with the strimmer, I don’t mind too much.


  4. Borders are difficult work, but they look amazing when they’re finished. The process is long and tedious, but your garden is coming along! I’m a landscaper from the US, so I can relate with trying not to think about how many days/miles of edging I do at a time. Thanks for sharing!


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