Garden Edging: A Complete Guide


When completing your landscaping, you may want clean and defined boundaries for your different areas of grass, mulch, and tanbark depending on the look you are going for. One of the best ways to keep these areas not only aesthetically pleasing but confined from overgrowth is by using garden edging.

What is garden edging? Landscape garden edging is the material (usually bricks, composite, plastic, metal, wood, or formed concrete) used to separate grass and landscaping materials. Garden edging is used to protect your plants and prevent invasive weed growth, eliminate the extra need for trimming, highlight plants in your yard, and make your landscaping easier to maintain.

Garden edging can transform the look and feel of your yard while making it easier to take care of. This all can be done quite inexpensively while bringing enhanced value to your landscaping. We have pulled together the wide variety of materials you can use for garden edging and the factors that go into choosing the ideal edging material for your yard.

Types of Garden Edging To Choose From

There are multiple materials you can pick for your garden edging depending on the desired look you want, the types of plant material you have, and your desired costs.

We will break down the following in this section:

  • Different types of garden edging materials and their characteristics
  • How to install each type of edging
  • Cost of each type of edging (these costs are noted if they include installation)

Having this information will help you to make a more informed decision in what types of edging are out there and what will work for your specific needs. We start with more natural products and work our way into manufactured materials that can used for edging.

Stone Edging

Stone is one of the most natural choices for garden edging because it is incredibly durable and does not need to be treated with any chemicals. It will keep your plants and garden spaces in line and can offer an attractive and natural look to your landscaping. The major downside of the material is that it can be one of the most costly and heaviest, especially installed by yourself.

You can find different types of local and natural stones at most landscaping stores, in your yard, or possibly from a neighbor. Larger stones are typically better as they give a more defined and wall-like appearance. You may also want them at similar heights for consistency.

How to Install Stone Edging

Depending on the desired height of the stone in your garden, you will want to build your trench around 4 inches deep. This can be deeper if you plan to set your stones lower. The four-inch mark is meant to protect your bed from root and weed growth.

To install stone edging you will want to:

  1. Measure the distance of the area and the size of the stones you have. Placing your beginning and end stones in place can be a good marker for making sure you organize your rocks well in between.
  2. Dig your four-inch trench and place stones firmly into their position. Make sure they sit flat or at an angle where they will not move.
  3. Use mulch, gravel, or sand to fill remaining spaces that could allow for weed growth.

Stone Edging Cost

Natural stone can be one of the most expensive forms of garden edging. This stone provides a more sophisticated and unique look than many manufactured stones and concretes. You are looking at paying around $15 per foot for natural stone compared to much lower costs for other materials. Larger stones will usually be more expensive as well.

The initial investment may be high, but they will be long-lasting and provide an incredibly natural look to a yard.

Wood Edging

Wood is going to be one of your more natural edging materials if you are looking for this specific appearance or want to use products that are a bit more environmentally friendly. It is important to note that natural wood does become susceptible to rot and should be treated at some level to maintain its durability. You should not use treated wood near edible gardens.  

Wood edging is often found as formations of round logs or thin and flat boards. Avoid the use of treated wood and chemicals, cedar, cypress, and redwood are naturally rot-resistant. You should use pressure-treated wood if you are working on larger projects and want to see the most value from your purchase.

Landscape timbers are another wood option that is thicker and more block-like in their formation. They are more log-like and come in a variety of wood variations and thicknesses. These are useful for creating defined edging areas and are best used for straight lines.

How to Install Wood Edging

Again, the depth of the trench you build will be dependent on how obvious you want the edging to be. If you want it at ground level, dig the trench to the height of the wood itself.

You should keep these things in mind when installing wood edging:

  1. Make sure the ground below is even and level so that all pieces of wood remain at an equal height. You should eliminate rocks and plants in the way and use soil as needed to make it even.
  2. The ends of each piece of wood should be touching to fill the space and keep the edging consistent.
  3. Braces and screws can be used to attached corner pieces together.

Wood Edging Cost

Wood pricing can fluctuate depending on the quality and type of wood. You can look to pay between $5-9 per foot for wood edging, with landscape timber being the least expensive. Natural woods that are not chemically treated are going to be your most expensive because they are usually already rot-resistant.

Composite Edging

Bender boards are composite materials made of recycled wood and plastic that are designed to bend easily, as the name suggests. If you have lots of curves and bends in your landscaping, this is a durable and flexible choice that is also manageable price wise. It is not always the best for creating straight lines and breaks down more quickly than thicker materials.

Composite garden edging is also not very obvious if you are looking for more of a subtle look. Its thin lines draw more attention to the laws and flowerbeds themselves.

How to Install Composite Edging

You will have to choose the thickness and height of your bender board, often coming in 4, 6, 8-inch-tall varieties and up to 2 inches in width. The depth of your trench will be dependent on these differences.

To install your composite edging, you should:

  1. Let the material loosen by leaving it in the sun for a few hours so you can more easily bend it.
  2. Dig a somewhat shallow trench that will fit your bender board snugly. Make sure this area is level.
  3. Use plastic stakes to hold curves in place if necessary.

Thinner bender board will be better for lots of curves as it can bend more easily.

Composite Edging Cost

Composite edging is an inexpensive edging solution at around $1 per foot and can come in multiple colors depending on your tastes. It may be more difficult to find lots of varieties in stores, but you should find more options online.

Metal Edging

If you are looking for a more modern design, metal edging gives you subtle but contemporary lines in your yard. This is often used in commercial applications, but it also works well in a residential setting. It works incredibly well for straight lines and can easily separate rocks and gravel from grass and flowerbeds.

The primary drawback to using this type of material is that it will require specific tools to cut it. A hacksaw is usually necessary to cut unless you purchase it in desired lengths, which may raise the cost. You can find it in aluminum or steel that is weather-resistant.

How to Install Metal Edging

To install metal edging, you should:

  1. First look at your soil for either type of metal being used. If you are working with softer soil, this will make your life easier in not needing to build a trench.
  2. Use a sledgehammer or mallet to put the metal edging into place.
  3. To hold these in place, you will want to use matching metal stakes that can keep the edging anchored.

If the soil is not soft enough, you should make a shallow trench or at least loosen out the soil so you can get the metal edging in place.  

Metal Edging Cost

You can expect to pay around $2.50 for basic steel per foot and upwards of $4.50 for high-quality steel per foot. You will also need the stakes to keep them in place, which will cost over $3 for each stake. Aluminum edging will be slightly less expensive, under $2 per foot, but is thinner than steel.

Plastic Edging

This is one of the most popular edging materials because it is lightweight and cheap. Being pliable as well, it can be bent to fit around curves, making it a suitable solution for many yards. Some choose to avoid plastic edging because it doesn’t typically provide as sophisticated of a look as other materials do, and it is not as durable.

How to Install Plastic Edging

Installing plastic edging is similar to composite materials:

  1. You will want to lay out the material the day before you use it so it has the opportunity to increase its pliability.
  2. Create a 3 to 6-inch-deep trench for the plastic depending on its height and desired presence above the surface. Make sure the width of the edging is slightly thicker than the edging itself.
  3. You will want to remove any roots and cut into the plastic to fit around larger trees and roots if necessary.
  4. Purchase and use connectors if you are using multiple pieces of plastic and want to combine them.
  5. Secure the edging by stepping onto it or using a rubber mallet.
  6. Add stakes to keep the edging in place after it is where you want it to sit.

Plastic Edging Cost

Plastic quality has a wide range, which can allow the price to fluctuate. Lower-grade plastics can be under $0.50 per foot while more expensive plastics that will be more durable are over $2.

Brick Edging

If you want something that is durable without being too heavy and is typically inexpensive, brick edging is a great choice. It provides a more traditional landscaping look that can help to contain your plants and flowerbeds. It can be placed in straight lines or along curves easily with no need more mortar (unless you plan to stack multiple bricks on top of each other).

How to Install Brick Edging

To install your bricks, follow these steps:

  1. Dig a trench wide enough for the bricks to fit in the desired area around your landscaping.
  2. Add a one to two-inch-thick layer of sand in the trench as this will help to keep them in place.
  3. You will want to place horizontal bricks around a half inch thick and vertical bricks around two to three inches to ensure they stay in place.
  4. Put ends of bricks close together, and they will remain in place (moss and other natural binders can grow). 

Brick Edging Cost

For materials cost alone, you can expect to pay around $2 per foot, depending on the quality of the brick as well as your geographical location. Installation is fairly easy and could be done yourself. Expect costs to rise if you hire someone to install them for you. 

Concrete Edging

Concrete edging is similar to stone edging in that it can be heavy and more difficult to work with. There are two primary ways you can go about concrete edging: premade sections or poured concrete. Many people choose to go with concrete edging because it is durable and long-lasting. It will maintain clean and distinct lines to separate your landscaping.

If you are looking for a method that will bring immense value over time because of its longevity, concrete edging may be your best choice. 

How to Install Concrete Edging

If you are using concrete pavers, you will just need to build a trench that is deep enough to support your premade pieces of concrete. Similar to brick, you’ll want to place them two to three inches thick in order to keep them in place.

If you are pouring concrete for your edging, these are the steps you should take:

  1. Clearly mark your area for edging with stakes. This will make it easier to follow your line.
  2. Make a trench about two inches thick. This surface should be dirt for the best hold.
  3. For simple DIY concrete edges, you’ll want to place 1×4 boards on either side of the trench and keep them there with small stakes.
  4. Mix your concrete according to the instructions on the packaging and pour it into your trench. Make sure it is level with a leveling tool and get any air pockets out.
  5. Take away the concrete boards once it is dry with a hammer.

You won’t have to worry about these steps and could get more creative designs if you choose to have someone install it for you!

Concrete Edging Cost

The price of concrete edging will depend on the method you choose. You can get premade concrete sections for $1.50 per foot (this will fluctuate based on detailing and location). If you choose to pour concrete to create your edges, this will be much more involved and labor-intensive. You can expect to pay around $8 per foot, including labor.

For poured concrete, the price is largely dependent on the style you choose and any additions that are made to the concrete. Labor prices may be higher in some locations rather than others geographically.

Spade Cut Edging

Rather than using a material, the spade cut edging method relies on a tool rather than edging material. In this method, you are using a spade to create a small trench around your landscaping. This can be an effective and inexpensive method but does require upkeep as the trenches may become less obvious and clear over time and with weather changes.

You will want to use a square-edged spade for the desired line you wish to create. Press the spade into the ground around three to four inches for depth and make the trench two to three inches wide. Make a V-shaped trench to catch extra materials and create a clear separation.

Most square-edged spades or similar edging tools will cost you around $30. In this method, you will not have to pay for additional materials.

How Should You Choose Which Type of Garden Edging?

All the garden edging choices we have mentioned throughout the article are suitable choices dependent on three main factors:

  1. Aesthetic: How the material looks in your yard may be the most important factor in choosing a material. If you want the edging to be more obvious, you should look at woods, stones, or concrete. For a subtler choice, plastic, composite, and metal are popular.
  2. Price: If your landscaping budget is smaller, this will limit the types of material you can use. Metal, plastic, and composite are typically the least expensive. If you are looking for a cheap solution, check out those materials.
  3. Quality of Material: Higher quality is typically more expensive, but this could be of better value in the long-run. Stone and concrete are usually of the highest and most durable quality, but wood can also be a great option if it is treated.

These are the considerations you should make in choosing a material, and it is definitely up to your preferences and needs as to what is the “best” garden edging material. We recommend going with a more durable material that will last longer so you don’t have to replace it after a short period of time! Regardless of material, all will create clean lines for a defined yard space.

Eyerly Family

The Eyerly Family is a family of 8 that loves gardening. Over the past several years we have been applying what we learn about gardening to our own 16x16 raised back yard garden. Our garden is very prolific and we grow a wide variety of vegetables which we love to eat! Click here to learn more about the Eyerly Family.

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