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Cut bed edges vs edging material?

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

  1. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    Great Posts Marc. I'm always grateful to be part of a civil thread with your input. Thumbs Up

    I do agree about the steel. Easier to install. No muss, no fuss, and you do get that cut edge look with less maintenance compared to a cut edge.

    The only thing I disagree on is dry setting the larger blocks you linked to. This guy lives up north and the frost/heave cycle will make them go goofy in a couple of years. That and if this guy is using a zero turn, he'll move them around pretty easily when he hits them.

    Ultimately I would still set them in mortar. And as tree rings I would try to miter the bigger blocks to get as small of a seam as possible.


    Another thing to consider ATV, is the trees you plan on going around. If these are smaller ornamental with minimally aggressive roots, then I wouldn't worry about the ring placement, as long as it isn't too close.

    If they are potentially trees that will get large and have large surface roots, such as a silver maple, then I would take that into consideration and try to place the ring to get 20 years out of the edging.

    And yes, the paddle bit I'm referring to is the rectangular bit they rental house mentioned. Thumbs Up
  2. ATV

    ATV LawnSite Member
    Messages: 44

    When I traveled over the summer I went to a number of businesses who had cut edges around their mulch beds and I have to admit -- I really liked the look.

    At our old house, we had the 12" long, narrow, pavers that interlocked end-to-end. I installed them around the mulch beds that bordered the house. They looked good. But after reading discussions here about people who don't like the brick when its out in the yard rather than near the house, I'm kind of on the fence as to what to do here.

    Our driveway is pavers. We have an entry door next to the garage door and that whole area extending to the door is pavers. The pavers continue on and form a sidewalk continuing around to the main front door on the house. In front of the main door, is a patio area which is also pavers. The front facade of the house is light colored brick. The pavers are more of a rust color.

    With the existing pavers, we have a lot of hardscape in place already. The front yard is surrounded by a black wrought iron fence.

    So putting brick around mulch beds, given the type of home we have and prominent use of pavers already, might look complimentary to the house and look great.

    I have to try and figure out the right decision. So you guys are very much appreciated with the feedback and advice you've shared. I can't thank you enough and I appreciate the time you've taken helping me.

    My main concern is the number of trees in the yard that I would like to mulch around. I'm concerned that rather than it looking like a planned landscaping design which enhances the house, that it may look like a patchwork of bricks and mulch. If I can, tomorrow I'll take some pics and post here. If you guys don't mind sharing opinions, I'd love to hear what you think (and anyone else reading this discussion).

    Tomorrow evening my wife and I are going to walk the yard and really take a look at things and try to envision what the end result would look like. I'm still leaning heavily towards the brick edging. But I do like the look of cut edges. The steel edging I've not seen enough photos yet to have formed an opinion. I'm going to do some more searching tonight to see what I can't find for photos.

    I'm mulching mainly to make it easier to mow the yard. I'm 48 now but when I'm 80 years old or better I don't want to have spend a lot of hours every week on the yard just to keep on top of things. I'd prefer to have to mow, fertilize and kill weeds and that's about it. I'm trying to minimize how much we have to do with the string trimmer, make it easy to mow, etc. Just planning for down the road when I'm an old fart.

    I'm on top of the gopher situation now, but when we bought the house 2 years ago there were a lot of gophers and chipmunks that had borrowed in the ground. If I do go with the brick edging, I'm definitely going to take the advice and put the mortar down. That way if there are tunnels in the ground, or if we have problems with frost and heaving, I can minimize how much the edging might shift. I think having a sound base is good advice. I don't mind whatever work it takes to do the job right. Its a good investment.

    Craigslist has a Brown Bed Edger listed for $650. If I end up deciding to go with the cut edges, I'd be willing to buy an edger like this if need be. I have to imagine the edges could be re-cut pretty quickly with this.

    How frequently would the edges typically need to be re-cut? If its every other month, I could probably live with that. If its every other week...then those brick edgers look mighty good!

    This has been a great discussion. Thanks guys.
  3. MarcSmith

    MarcSmith LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,157

    wg. I did say IN THEORY so I did qualify my statement.. :) Even though I've been up north 10 years now (if you call Dc north) I still revert back to my florida days with my thinking sometimes...and i did fail to notice Minnesota on the location...

    Id venture to say to to keep your cut edges looking sharp... a couple times a growing season should be enough. and in between edging you can always touch up with a string trimmer to catch any runners and unruly grass depending on the type of grass...
  4. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    Oh I know, I wasn't trying to bust your chops, so I apologize if you took it as such.

    I agree with using your trimmer to keep the edges nice. The old farm house I do a maintenance on, I have to use my trimmer once every two weeks to keep the edges nice and clean. Occasionally I have to dig out sections by hand where a mole has run along the trench. The place has an old appeal to it, and I haven't even considered once mentioning edging of any kind at that place as anything but the cut edge would look out of place.

    ATV, that's a great price for a bed edger. The only problem with the brown bed edger is that it's great for doing new edges, and at 650 I'd buy it to do what you need to and turn around and sell it when your done. I tried a brown edger to re-define a couple of beds earlier this year, but it didn't work out well as the wheels on the machine want to drop into the existing trench.

    Another thought would be to get an echo bed re-definer to keep the trenches/cut edges nice. I haven't tried one yet, but there are plenty of guys on here that like the results they get from it. I use a Stihl trimmer with a yard boss tiller head on the end instead. Basically it's the same principal, but I get more uses out of the tiller head rather than just a bed definer.

  5. MarcSmith

    MarcSmith LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,157

    no offense taken...
  6. ATV

    ATV LawnSite Member
    Messages: 44

    Hi Guys,

    I think I've finally made a decision thanks to all of the awesome help you've given me. I'm going with the cut edges. Here is why...

    It's going to cost way less to do. It's faster and easier. Down the road, if I decide it's too high of maintenance (which it now sounds like it won't be based on what you've said), I can always rake the mulch back and run a bed edger with the paddle around and install the brick (in mortar) and then rake the mulch back into place. So there isn't much of a downside to go with the cut edges because I can always do the brick later. Unless you see a problem with my theory?

    Instead of buying the brown edger, I may rent one for the weekend and then buy the echo redefiner instead. I watched a video of the redefiner in action. It looks fast and easy. The one thing I don't get, is it blows all of the dirt onto the top of your mulch. Do you:

    1) Leave it and not worry about it
    2) Rake the mulch towards the tree before edging and then rake it back
    3) Throw fresh mulch on top to cover the dirt.

    Just wondering what you pros do.

    I have just a couple more questions and then I think I'm ready to tackle this!

    WG - in an earlier reply you mentioned that you use a string trimmer and scalp the area you plan to mulch and then spray with roundup. Then you use the bed edger.

    I'm assuming if I'm going cut edges that the proper attachment would be the "V" shaped blade the rental place mentioned?

    Just to make sure I'm clear -- you're saying there is no need to rent a sod cutter and remove the sod where the mulch bed would go?

    I should mention...I've got a 40 gallon tow-behind sprayer I use for roundup, a skid steer, dump trailer, tractor with front-end loader, Stihl commercial blower, Stihl commercial string trimmer and a Ryobi sting trimmer with the expand-it option and a tiller attachment. I checked and Ryobi doesn't offer a redefiner attachment. Bummer. But I'll buy the echo you mentioned. Not that I want to spend the money - but it would save a ton of time the way it looks.

    We also have a plant about 9 miles away that manufactures mulch. The problem is they only sell in 10 yard loads and my dump trailer has a 6 yard capacity. I can add 2 foot extensions to the trailer and that might give me the 10 yard capacity -- but I'll need to talk to the plant and see if they can tell me the weight of a 10 yard load.

    If I should remove the sod with the sod cutter, I've got an easy way to haul it away and I've got a place I can dump it. What I don't know is if the problem would be using a sod cutter close to the trees? I'm assuming your advice to scalp and round-up is to avoid problems with roots?

    So the proper order is scalp, round-up, edger with V blade, hand taper with shovel from V perhaps 10 inches towards tree and then put the mulch down?

    Thanks you guys. You've been great.
  7. MarcSmith

    MarcSmith LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,157

    atv. if you go the scalp route. IMO spray first then a day or two later scalp... better chance of kill as you are getting more roundup on more leaves...
  8. ATV

    ATV LawnSite Member
    Messages: 44

    So the rental place said, about the V blade, is "people have used it for that". Sounds like its not 100% the right tool for making those initial cut edges. I can call around other places, but what should I ask for? Is there a certain blade profile I should get?
  9. ATV

    ATV LawnSite Member
    Messages: 44

    I called Brown and mentioned the edger for sale on Craigslist and told them what I wanted to do. Mainly I wanted to confirm what the proper blade is to use for making the cut edge (they said to use a rotor).

    Anyway, the fellow there said that in our sandy soil that it won't hold the edge without edging material. I called some local landscapers to find out what their experience has been. One fellow said not to even cut anything. He said to put the mulch down in a mound around the trees. I've seen that done. Seems like you would end up with mulch over the yard from mowing, etc... The other landscaper said he uses a plastic edge in his own yard. So....not a clear choice.

    I do have groups of trees that regardless will need a bed around the group. So now I'm reconsidering doing the brick.

    Does a mulch mound around individual trees and a mulch bed with brick edging sound like smart plan?

    Sorry about the 101 questions. I'm starting tomorrow so I don't have a lot of time to make a decision.
  10. JCS Landscaping

    JCS Landscaping LawnSite Member
    from NE WI
    Messages: 35

    just finished a mulch job for some family. We had over 30 trees to recut and mulch. We rented a sod cutter to widen the circles. The landscaping and home are around 5 years old, so we had to widen the circles to keep up with the growth of the trees. The sod cutter cost us about $15/hr to rent and we finished cutting in about 1.5 hours. Real simple and easy process. Worst part was removing the sod. I have some before and after pics in the pictures forum. Not sure how to get a link but search for it and you can check em out. Its a very nice home, and the clean cut edges are nothing short of classy.

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