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How to Edge Lawns and Flower Beds With a Dinner Knife

Eugene is an avid gardener and has been passionate about growing things for over 40 years. Twitter @EugenesDIYDen

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How to Edge a Flower Bed

If you have flower beds or borders in a lawn, you know how the grass at the edges can become ragged and unsightly over time. Edging the border between bed and lawn will help to visually define the boundary, adding to its aesthetic appeal. This guide shows you step by step how to edge beds with a knife in a way which allows easy maintenance in the future.

Tools Required

  • Sharp-edged knife
  • Garden hand trowel or spade
  • Optionally, a hose or marking paint

Step 1: Mark the Perimeter

When marking the perimeter of the bed, a flexible garden hose is ideal for this. You can also use a can of marking paint; available from any hardware store. If you have a good eye, you can dispense with the hose or paint and work freehand. Lay out the hose on the lawn and adjust it to to the desired contour for the bed.

Step 2: Aquire a Razor-Sharp Tool

Use a spade, edging tool, or sharp knife for edging. A spade can be used for cutting through the sod and edging the bed, however, an unorthodox solution is to use a very sharp knife. A dinner knife with a handle is ideal. You need to have a razor-sharp edge on the knife so that it will cut freely through the sod. You can sharpen the knife on a bench grinder or use a handheld carborundum stone as used for sharpening garden tools.

This is actually an old cobbler's knife belonging to my grandfather (used in the days when people actually repaired shoes themselves!)

This is actually an old cobbler's knife belonging to my grandfather (used in the days when people actually repaired shoes themselves!)

Step 3: "Saw" into the Sod

While holding the knife firmly, plunge it into the sod, and then pull it towards you at a 45-degree angle. Use a sawing motion while you do this (as if you were cutting a Christmas cake!) to bypass any stones in the soil. If you hit any large rocks, remove the knife and cut a couple of inches further down along the hose. Use the hose as a rough guide.

Step 4: Undercut It

This can be done with a spade or hand trowel (planter). Push the trowel under the sod and scoop it out.

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Voila!

You have an edged bed with a neat cliff or curb effect! Now all you need to do is slope the soil in the bed upwards and backward from the base of the "cliff." Maintenance of this edge is now easy since the bed is lower than the lawn and the grass can be trimmed with a string trimmer (strimmer). You will need to do this periodically to maintain the definition of the edge.

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Use Mulch to Suppress and Deter Weeds

You can use grass clippings, bark mulch, or chipped branches as a mulch, spread on the bare soil around the edge of the bed. This helps to prevent weeds from growing and maintains the clean appearance of the edging.

Check out this guide on how to make chippings using a small electric chipper.

You can make your own chippings from branches using a low cost electric chipper.

You can make your own chippings from branches using a low cost electric chipper.

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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2013 Eugene Brennan

Comments

Sandra Ericson from Washington D.C, USA - 20007 on November 22, 2016:

Thanks Eugbug for providing us details about flower bed. This will help us a lot.

Eugene Brennan (author) from Ireland on May 18, 2016:

Thanks Catherine! It sounds bizarre using a knife, but when turf is being laid for a new lawn, that's what they use to trim and fit the stuff.

Catherine Tally from Los Angeles on May 17, 2016:

Great suggestion, Eugene- thanks! It seems that mechanical edgers are harder to control and damage tree bark. I personally prefer the hands-on techniques. Lovely garden, by the way:)

RTalloni on January 19, 2015:

Voila! indeed. This makes a tedious job easier.

Eugene Brennan (author) from Ireland on September 21, 2014:

Thanks! They don't stay long that way because grass grows like wild fire here!

Country Sunshine from Texas on September 21, 2014:

I like the nice edge on your flower beds! I'll have to give your method a try next spring.

Eugene Brennan (author) from Ireland on June 18, 2014:

Thanks Vicki! I think you'll just have to use a lawn weed killer to deal with clover, daisies and other broad weed leaves. If you have the patience, you can use the same dinner knife for under cutting the roots of dandelions and thistles.

Vickiw on June 17, 2014:

Oh, I liked this! I'll find a knife to sacrifice for this purpose. Looks easy, and that lawn edge is the bane of my life. Now, if you could just write one on getting rid of clover easily . . .

Eugene Brennan (author) from Ireland on September 30, 2013:

Thanks for the comments!

Yes this is a photo of part of my front garden taken last year. Unfortunately the growing season has more or less come to an end here (apart from grass cutting), so I'll be taking a break from gardening until next spring!

Arizona's Restoration Experts, LLC on September 30, 2013:

Will be giving this a try now that the weather is getting cooler. Is that your yard in the pictures? If so, it's beautiful.

Eugene Brennan (author) from Ireland on January 24, 2013:

Thanks for the comment Ged.

You can use a spade to do this, but using a knife is not much more difficult than cutting a Christmas cake.

Ged1962 from UK on January 24, 2013:

Nice info, evrytime I try it I seem to get grass all over the place and lumps on the side

Eugene Brennan (author) from Ireland on January 11, 2013:

Your welcome wetnosedogs!

It's too wet here to do any serious gardening but at least the days are getting longer!

wetnosedogs from Alabama on January 11, 2013:

This I have to try. Thanks