Cut bed edges vs edging material?

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by ATV, Aug 4, 2010.

  1. ATV

    ATV LawnSite Member
    Messages: 44

    Hi Everyone,

    I've been reading for hours but haven't really found the answers to my questions. I'd appreciate your advice!

    We have about 3 acres of yard that needs landscaping. We have a lot of trees and some wrought iron fencing. We want to edge and create mulch beds around everything to make mowing with our ZTR easier. The plan is to mulch around single trees and mulch around groups of trees/shrubs.

    We're in Minnesota. Mostly sand. Have a lot of crab grass put plan to kill off the yard and re-seed in September.

    I'm trying to decide how best to edge. If we cut edges using a rented bed edger or by hand, I'm assuming the edges won't hold well in sand and would also need to be re-edged every few weeks, correct?

    I would prefer whatever is going to be as close to maintenance free as possible. I know I'll have to replace mulch every few years.

    What would you recommend I do for edging beds in my situation?

    When you create new mulch beds, is the proper order to first cut the edge, then inside of that edge run a sod cutter to remove the sod, then either put your edging material down if using edging or if not then simply fill the bed with mulch?

    If you recommend using an edging material, what would be your recommended material to use? We don't want anything that looks cheap. Its a nice house and I'd like to do it right.

  2. ATV

    ATV LawnSite Member
    Messages: 44

    Would you put down a weed barrier fabric before putting down the mulch?
  3. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    If you are doing wood mulch,

    No fabric,

    Use a string trimmer to scalp the areas you plan to mulch,

    Spray the scalped areas with roundup, just don't go too heavy in order to make sure not to damage the trees.

    Use a bed edger such as a brown bed edger with the paddle, not the taper bit.

    Cut a trench with the edger, or just use a shovel. I use a shovel in order to make sure my rings are perfect by using a string around the tree to get an equal distance all the way around.

    Install Brick/mortar edging, such as this.!/photo.php?pid=3613295&id=185135107642&ref=fbx_album&fbid=300623192642

    Grade away from the brick/mortar edge so that the mulch tucks in tightly.

    If doing rock, use fabric, and tuck the fabric under the brick/mortar edging.

    After two weeks, spray any grass trying to re-establish itself through the wood mulch.
  4. ATV

    ATV LawnSite Member
    Messages: 44

    Thanks so much for the reply! I'm using wood mulch.

    When you say, "brick/mortar" edging are you putting down dry portland cement, setting the brick on it and then wetting it down or do you actually mix up mortar and put down first? I'm trying to envision the process. If you're mixing mortar, how thick a layer do you put in the trench before setting the brick?

    You do outstanding work. I looked through all of your photo albums. I saw a before and after photo of a job you did. I see you ran the gutter drain spout down into the ground. What does it dump into? Are you running it to a pop-up head on the grass side of the brick edging?

    Thanks again.
  5. Gmgbo

    Gmgbo LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 382

    Steel Edging
  6. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776


    That job already had an existing drainage system on the property. That downspout runs into a drain tile that runs out to the edge of the property.

    If you want to you could do something simple like this for drainage.

    When it comes to the brick edging, I run a string-line along the grade to keep my runs strait, and then dig a trench. I take a brick along the trench to double check and make sure that it's deep enough before I start.

    Then I take type-s mortar (no aggregate for ease) and mix it up one bag at a time. Usually with an 80lb. bag I can get about 8 feet done. I try to make sure there is around 4 inches, + - of mortar under my bricks.

    I like it as it doesn't move when you run over it with a mower.
  7. ATV

    ATV LawnSite Member
    Messages: 44

    I really want to thank you again for your help. A lot of people have looked at this post but you really stepped forward and provided some help. Thanks!

    I called my local rental store and their bed edger has either a rectangular blade for installing the edging pavers or a "V" blade. You mentioned I wanted a "paddle" blade. Sorry for my ignorance, but is the paddle blade and the rectangular blade the same thing? Sounds like it but wanted to check with the expert. I have hundreds of linear feet to do and want to have the right tool for the job.
  8. MarcSmith

    MarcSmith LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,157

    1/4" steel edging would make it much easier to do curves and such...

    When doing edging use a garden hose to lay out a "template" of sorts and then drive your mower with the blades off to ensure that you can get into all the curves and such prior to marking and installing your edging.

    Personally I'd use a sod cutter in all but the areas right up next to the trunk of the trees.. and in those cases I would spray first, then wait a few days and then string trim it down. This way you are getting more herbicide into the plant. if you trim it down and then spray...lest surface area for the herbicide to stick to...

    for steel edging the sod cutter would provide enough depth for the edging.

    I would also install my edging such that the top of the edging was just below the lowest height you would normally cut your grass. that way the edging wont hit the blades when you mow.
  9. ATV

    ATV LawnSite Member
    Messages: 44


    Thanks for the reply. In some of the posts I've read here, I thought it made mention (and I could be wrong) that the steel edging requires maintenance? Do you have to replace or paint steel edging every few years? Just wondering about its durability.

    I'm assuming it would definitely be cheaper and easier to install than brick. But I'm assuming the brick might last for 20 years or more without touching it? Especially if set in a mortar bed.

    I like the idea of less expensive and easier, just concerned about what it might take to maintain the steel edging.
  10. MarcSmith

    MarcSmith LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,157

    you can get metal edging in steel or aluminum. edging comes in black for steel and unpainted aluminum.

    yes over time the steel will rust, but its not a rust that will structurally hurt it. Steel edging is not as much decorative as it is functional For those who like the look of mulch right up against the grass with no visible edging.

    in all honeslty if I had to go with something that looked good, choice of brick, I would look more towards a granite cobble over brick. more durable, but more expensive. If you got a cobble that was deep enough, in theory you could do it with out any base/mortar

    But I like the look of mulch against grass so I'd go steel edging, but that's just me...

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