Landscape Edging IDEAS Borders
Landscaping borders and edging can be inexpensive and attractive at the same time.
Landscape borders and edging can help define different areas of your yard, hold in soil, line your walkway or simply give your garden a more polished look. Many border materials are expensive, but less expensive options are available, and some are free. From recycled and found objects to commercially available plastic edging, you have choices to suit your design and budget.
Wood is inexpensive and relatively easy to install. One free option is to use branches or timber from your own yard or that you find along the road. Railroad offices often are willing to give away discarded cross ties, and local businesses may have wooden pallets they no longer need. Old fence panels from architectural salvage stores or flea markets can also be sawed into smaller pieces and used for edging. Because wood eventually rots, consider treating it with a preservative or choose rot-resistant woods like redwood, cedar, white oak and black locust.
Mulch works well as a border, particularly around garden plantings and pathways. Bark, wood chips, leaves, hay, straw, grass clippings, shredded newspaper and pine needles from your yard or neighborhood add a natural feel to a landscape. Local public works departments and tree trimming services often have piles of wood chips or mulch free for the hauling. You can also buy bags of mulch inexpensively at home centers, hardware stores, nurseries and landscape suppliers. Avoid using mulch in areas with poor drainage.
Plastic edging, also known as poly edging, is composed of flexible strips that are either smooth or corrugated and usually dark green, brown or black. Plastic edging typically comes in 20-foot strips that may need to be cut to fit or in shorter pieces that snap together. The least expensive form is the 3- to 4-inch-tall poly edging, although its lightweight nature means it’s easily damaged by mowers. Plastic edging may need stakes or screws to keep it anchored in place.
Recycled Materials and Found Objects
Other potentially free or inexpensive sources for border materials include repurposed objects or items from flea markets, yard sales, attics, salvage stores or from nature. Colored glass bottles of one uniform color or a variety of colors can be stuck neck-down in a row to create a border. Terra cotta roofing tiles or broken pieces of ceramic tiles or clay pots, if large enough, can also be embedded in the soil to form edging. Other options include upturned rain gutters or sidewall strips cut from used tires. For an exotic look, if you have access to coconut shells or seashells, line them up in trenches to form borders for your landscape.
Stones, Concrete and Brick
Cement or brick pavers are relatively inexpensive border materials, especially if you buy them from building surplus and salvage supply stores. Check landfills or waste dumps for chunks of concrete you can break up with a hammer to create smaller pieces. Crushed stone, smooth pebbles or other rocks and gravel from your yard can also make an attractive, low-maintenance border, or visit local nursery or landscape supply businesses for surplus or discounted materials. Boulders make for a more dramatic look and will appear natural as long as they are a similar size, shape and color with spacing them six to 12 inches apart to allow room for a ground cover to creep in between.
A free option that doesn’t require any materials at all, other than tools, is a natural Victorian edge, also called a Victorian trench, which is most effective around plant beds. Use a sharp spade to create vertical cuts along the edges of your lawn, then remove soil at 45-degree angles in the direction of the edge, to a depth of 3 to 4 inches. The trench will be straight downward on the lawn side and angled up toward the border side. Smooth the remaining soil with a rake so that it slopes toward border plants.