H aving a well-kept lawn will definitely make the difference between a gorgeous yard and an ok yard. And well-kept refers to more than just watering and mowing. Trimming and keeping the edges clean is just as important as shaping your beard or your nails to end up with a look that is put together.
Edging the lawn isn’t all that hard as it might seem, but for first-timers, it might take up more time and effort, therefore we have taken it upon ourselves to put together a comprehensive guide on how to best prepare for and go about giving your grass beds a manicured appearance. So, if you’re keen on transforming your yard, keep on reading.
The first part regards the preparation steps, but that doesn’t refer only to buying a tool or cutting the grass. The whole process consists of:
Know Your Tool
If you don’t already have an edger, know that there are the three types that you can choose from, namely the gas-powered type, the electric type, and the manual type:
- The gas-powered type is the pick to go for if you have a big workload that you have to get right from the first pass because it boasts a high power, a smoother run, and an easy start.
- The electric lawn edger is the pick for those who want an environmentally-friendly operation, with less pollution, less noise, and with a lighter build to carry around as well. The only thing to note is that an electric option might have to go through tougher grass-filled soil twice to make an appropriate cut.
- The manual option is the cheapest one, but it also takes more time to use than a motorized version. Note that you will need plenty of strength and stamina if you want to go with this route.
Picking the right tool is up to you because only you know the amount of power, precision, and ease of use that you’ll need for your soil and lawn type. One thing to be aware of is that you can also use 2-in-1 tools, like a trimmer and edger combination that can help you achieve a seamless end-product.
Prepare the Tool
After you’ve picked the right tool, you can go ahead and check its components and manual before the first use in order to get accustomed to the way it works. Check every button, adjustment knob, and feature that it comes with to be certain that everything will work properly and smoothly.
Prepare the Lawn
The next step is taking care of the lawn itself because you can’t get to trimming and edging the sides if your grass is overgrown and leaning over every side. Start by mowing it down to a decent length as close to each side as possible, since this way you will also make life easier on yourself when it’s time to tend to the portions that meet the sidewalk. Another thing you should make sure of is that there are no rocks, pebbles, twigs, or other debris lurking near where the blade of the tool will be operating because this can cause accidents, injuries, or it can even lead to a defective tool.
Other extra steps that you can take, but that are not a must, are watering and marking. If the soil you are about to run your blade through is overly dry, hard, and bound together by a thick webbing of grass, you might want to water it beforehand to soften it and prevent forcing the blade too much. If you know that you don’t have the time needed to take care of this aspect, then you could think about installing an irrigation system that you could control remotely with a sprinkler controller so that you could do some of the work even before you get home.
The step of marking refers to adding a helping hand by the course which the edger would be following. If you’ve never done any of this before, getting a hose or a long rope to lie on the grass – near the cutting spot next to the sidewalk – might help you out with keeping a straight line.
As we’ve mentioned already, this process can take quite some time, especially if you’re a beginner at edging or if you went for a manual tool. That is why, first and foremost, you should prepare by equipping yourself with plenty of patience. After you’ve done so, then you can gather the gear that will keep you safe during the operation, meaning:
- Eye protection – Goggles or a shield can do the work of keeping your eyes safe.
- Ear protection – Motorized tools can be quite noisy, especially the gas-powered ones, so make sure that you have noise-canceling earmuffs or headsets. Do talk to your neighbors as well before using the tool, as they could have complaints about it.
- Hand protection – If the tool isn’t equipped with anti-slip handles, you can wear gloves with rubberized grooves or any pair that can ensure a good grip on the handles. Plus, gloves will also serve well with keeping your hands clean.
- Leg protection – Wear long pants, preferably made from a thicker material to soften any possible hits that can happen if you accidentally hit yourself with the tool or if it happens to get stuck and you trip over it.
- Foot protection – A good pair of work boots or shoes with a steel toe will be a great choice when doing most yard work.
Get to Edging
Now that everything is checked and protected, we can get to the actual process of clearing out a tidy edge for your lawn. Here’s what the next steps will look like:
- Blade Adjustment – Decide on a depth adjustment for the blade that will allow it to dig a path that is at least 2 inches deep or at the most 4 or 5 inches. The latter is ok given the width that you’re working with, but anything deeper will cross into trench territory.
- Wheel Adjustment – The wheel should only act as a helper to keep you going, not as something you should rely on to carry out the operation. A good adjustment for the wheel will allow it to touch the ground but not rest on it as the blade works.
- Proper Position – You should be walking on the sidewalk at all times, and so should the wheel and the majority of the tool. The only part that should touch the soil is the blade, and it should hold a 90-degree position no matter what.
- Keep it Moving – Once everything is in position and the engine is on, you should only focus on keeping your line straight and pacing yourself to match the rhythm of the tool. Try to keep a good speed – not too fast and not too slow – so that you won’t have to pass over any section more than once.
- Maneuvering – The easiest way to go about starting is to begin in a corner and work your way forward. Or, if you have a curved lawn, begin in the middle of the curve and work one section at a time. Make sure that you never walk backward, unless you have a manual tool. Motorized edgers don’t take well to backward motions.
- Check on the Blade – Occasionally, you might want to check on the blade, especially if the grass webbing is thick, the soil is hard, or if the workload is big. All these factors will wear the blade faster and that means you’ll have to adjust it lower at certain points in time.
- Take Breaks – Whether for yourself, for the tool, or to check on your progress, taking a break is something that we recommend. This way you can make sure that you went the right way, nothing is crooked, and you can also clear out some of the clippings and soil bits left behind to make things easier on the future you.
- Finishing Touches – When you’re done with the full path that you wanted to take care of, all that’s left to do is to trim the edges and cut off any grass bits, plants, or weeds that are still sticking out.
Now that the edging part is done, one final step is the cleaning one which, again, divides:
There are a few ways in which you can address the clippings that are now hosted by your lawn, and those can include using mowers that come with collecting bags, mowing again, and leaving the cut-up bits in the lawn, using a sweeper, or using a rake. One other method you can use to gather everything is to grab a cordless leaf blower that you can waltz around the whole lawn with and blow everything into a convenient corner spot – where you’ll then be able to use a rake or other tools to stuff the clippings into bags.
Once the grass bit cleaning is covered, you can recheck the edges for any bits of soil that are sticking out like an eyesore and tidy those spots up as well. Lastly, you can get to detail trimming again if any taller grass blades still managed to hide around somewhere.
One thing that you shouldn’t forget, no matter what, is cleaning the tool itself. We know it’s tempting to simply shove it in your outdoor storage shed to keep it safe and out of the rain, but you have to clean it out beforehand. Make sure that you leave the blade spotless and check to see if any debris found its way in any other parts of the mechanism. If left unchecked and dirty, the lifespan of the tool will shorten considerably.
Now that everything is done and your lawn looks photo-ready, it’s time to reward yourself. Grab a patio chair and a cold drink (or a hot one, depending on the weather), and delight your eyes with your new, beautiful landscape.
We hope that our tutorial was useful, and if you’re looking to achieve the same outcome without spending money on extra tools, you can also check out our article on how to achieve clean cuts without an edger.