How to Edge Lawns and Flower Beds With a Dinner Knife

Updated on November 28, 2017
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Eugene is an avid gardener and has been passionate about growing things for nearly 40 years. He also has a keen interest in DIY.


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: First, You Need to Mark out the Perimeter of the Bed

A flexible garden hose is ideal for this, or you can 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: 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!) | Source

Step 3: 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 (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: Once You Have Cut Down Into the Sod, You Need to Undercut It

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



You have an edged bed with a neat cliff or kerb effect! Now all you need to do is slope the soil in the bed upwards and backwards 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 weed eater / lawn trimmer or hedge trimmers. You will need to do this periodically to maintain the definition of the edge.


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.


Questions & Answers

    © 2013 Eugene Brennan


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      • Sandra Ericson profile image

        Sandra Ericson 17 months ago from Washington D.C, USA - 20007

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

      • eugbug profile image

        Eugene Brennan 23 months ago from Ireland

        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.

      • cat on a soapbox profile image

        Catherine Tally 23 months ago from Los Angeles

        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 profile image

        RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

        Voila! indeed. This makes a tedious job easier.

      • eugbug profile image

        Eugene Brennan 3 years ago from Ireland

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

      • Country-Sunshine profile image

        Country Sunshine 3 years ago from Texas

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

      • eugbug profile image

        Eugene Brennan 3 years ago from Ireland

        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.

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        Vickiw 3 years ago

        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 . . .

      • eugbug profile image

        Eugene Brennan 4 years ago from Ireland

        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!

      • azrestoexp profile image

        Arizona's Restoration Experts, LLC 4 years ago

        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.

      • eugbug profile image

        Eugene Brennan 5 years ago from Ireland

        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 profile image

        Ged1962 5 years ago from UK

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

      • eugbug profile image

        Eugene Brennan 5 years ago from Ireland

        Your welcome wetnosedogs!

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

      • wetnosedogs profile image

        wetnosedogs 5 years ago from Alabama

        This I have to try. Thanks