E verybody dreams of having the dream lawn with green grass that’s trimmed perfectly, little flower beds and trees here and there with tiny picket fences surrounding them, and spotless edges around said fences or wherever the lawn meets a concrete sidewalk. But that can be easier said than done when you don’t know the first thing about lawn care and the tools you might need to get the job done.
If you’ve come to this article from our article about how to achieve clean cuts with an edger, then here you will find out how to do so without one if you’re not all that eager to spend the extra money. To give you a comprehensive tutorial, we’ll be tackling the topics of when you should edge, what you will need, how to prepare, how to work the soil, how to clean the lawn, and how to maintain your work.
When You Should Edge
First and foremost, let’s discuss the issue of what this activity means. When thinking about lawn care, most people’s thoughts go straight to irrigation and mowing, which is correct, but what’s wrong is that it all stops there. One thing that you can do to have your yard look put-together is to take care of the free edge by either cutting down the overgrown grass or by cutting out straight lines – or curved ones if that’s the case – that clearly mark where the lawn stops and where your sidewalk begins.
When it comes to picking the right moment, you should consider doing this activity during early spring, either after it has rained or a little while after irrigating the lawn. The reason for this specific timing is that doing the edges in the spring will give you an easier time throughout the year since you’ll only have to do maintenance work from now on which would leave you with plenty of time to perform other lawn care activities. Also, since you don’t have an electrical lawn edger with which you can go through the soil quicker and keep a straighter line, then you’ll have a way easier time if the soil is damp enough to make it easier for your manual tools to get through it.
What You’ll Need
Tending to your lawn can imply expensive purchases but since this specific task can be done if you simply repurpose the tools that you might already have in your outdoor storage shed, you won’t have to take out your wallet to achieve the same clean-cut results.
Without further ado, here’s a list of the tools that you should prepare for the job:
- A Lawn Mower or a Trimmer
- A Flat or Spade Shovel with a straight or square edge (while we’re here, consider the footrest space as well since you’ll be making use of it)
- Shears (for maintenance purposes)
- A Rake or a Broom
- A Collecting Bin or a Wheelbarrow
- Marking Tools (a more detailed list is further down)
- Protection Equipment (think shoes, long pants, gloves, and maybe even glasses to keep you safe and ready for work)
How to Prepare
When it comes to preparation, what you’ll have to do is mow the grass to a manageable level and mark your path so that you have a clear idea of which way you’re going and you don’t happen to go off course. Marking isn’t a must with motorized tools, but when doing things manually you use more force, you tire quicker, and thus you are prone to getting off course accidentally. So then, what you do is either:
- Use spray paint. This works especially well if you’re dealing with a lawn that has many curved edges, as you can follow those naturally with a marker that flows freely. One thing to keep in mind is to use the paint method when the weather is nice because otherwise wind or rain can disturb or wash away the line. The placement of the paint line is up to you since you could place it so that it will get cut off or as a border to stop at.
- Use materials. Here, the materials can refer to plastic edge markers, to a string that you tie to posts, or to a rope or a hose that you lay directly on the ground and around which you cut. Note that the string method will work best with straight lawns, as you’re likely to need plenty of posts to create a proper demarcation line on a curved lawn.
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How to Edge
When it comes to the actual edging, you can go about it in one of two ways, depending on the way you’ve designed your landscape. The easy way, if you have pavers set in place or a sidewalk that clearly marks the end of your lawn and the soil rests a bit higher, is to take your mower or trimmer and go about cutting the grass along the edge short and clean.
Trimmer or Mower Edging
- With the trimmer: you can do this by carefully maneuvering the cutting head at an angle to get between the pavement and the grass and go in a straight path. This method guarantees more precision but also requires a bit more skill.
- With the mower: you can make use of the height difference between the pavement and the soil and keep a diagonal position as you cut. Note that the blades need to be adjusted lower and you must avoid touching the pavement with them so that they don’t break. This method won’t allow you to get a straight line in, but it will do a good job cleaning up and it’s both faster and easier.
The method that can take more time and guarantee a deeper and more precise cut is the one where you use the shovel. Again, you can go about it in one of two ways. After marking, you can either take your time going segment by segment or you can ‘walk’ on the shovel as you go.
- Segment by segment: This option is better for those that are edging with a shovel for the first time, because it implies putting the shovel against the marked line at an angle (the angle should go slightly towards the outer edge for an easier cut through the soil), pressing down on the footrest until you’ve reached your preferred depth, taking the shovel out, and repeating the process along the whole path.
- Walking: This option can be quicker if you have good balance and precision because it implies keeping one leg on the footrest to press down on the shovel, and one on the ground to walk on. So, you’ll have to use your arm strength to position the shovel, press down with your foot, take the shovel out and reposition it all without removing your leg from the shovel, and use the other leg to keep moving along.
Once you’re done with either of the two methods mentioned above, you might have to go back to do a horizontal cut as well to be able to take out the old edge. This step can be skipped if you’ve cut at an angle that’s deep enough to allow an easy pick-up. When all the old bits and pieces have been taken out, you can then place them in a bin or a wheelbarrow if you don’t have a use for them yet, or you can leave them in a sunny spot to dry out if you’re planning on using them for compost. You can do the same for the clippings that remained after you’ve mowed the lawn, but dry them first because they can do more harm than good if they are placed wet on your mulch pile. Also, don’t add too many at once (a layer that’s less than 3 inches) so that you avoid ruining the hard compost work you’ve done so far.
How to Maintain
If you’ve taken our advice and performed this job during spring, then your maintenance work will consist of occasional trimming that you can do either by using the trimmer, the lawnmower, or a good pair of lawn shears. If you find that pesky weeds have taken residence in the edges, know that you can take care of them without harming your grass but that’s a whole other topic.
Now that you’re done with your work, you should go clean yourself up as well so that you can later come out and enjoy the new look that your yard welcomes you with. We hope that our tips were helpful and that we’ve aided you in keeping your budget within its boundaries.