One of the most important components of creating a landscape project is digging out the bed.
People often ask me what they should do to separate the bed from the grass and weeds and to keep the soil from the bed from washing away.
You can go and ask any employee at a big box store what you should use and they will sell you everything from timbers, stones, blocks, little plastic edging to metal edging and the truth of the matter is I’ve landscaped over 500 properties you don’t really need any of that.
Remember you still have to cut the grass and maintain your landscape design so you don’t need any rocks, bricks or edging getting in the way, or have to do any extra weed whacking or trimming.
What you really need to know is the proper way to edge a bed. I always start high and then taper down to the grass and of course, the tool of choice is the very heavy duty square nursery spade (this is the nursery spade I recommend <– Amazon affiliate link).
Landscapers and nurserymen all use this tool because it is the one tool that makes the job so much easier. It works really really well when you take a file and sharpen the spade. The sharper the spade, the easier to slice through the soil, roots, grass and weeds.
Well, see how easy it is to make a perfect edge to your bed in this video. I worked really hard to make this video for you.
Linda Charron' says
Hi Mike, great video, great tools. I use a different tool and I’d appreciate your comments on it. I think it’s just called an edger. The blade is like a half moon. the top of the blade has a small ‘foot fold’ and I sort of use it like a spade. I made a good sized ‘Kidney-Bean” shaped flower bed with it. I sort of stand on the blade to cut into the sod to keep the bed in a nice clean edge. Leveraging the handle just lifts up the sod I then shake out the dirt and throw the sod in the wheelbarrow. Let me know if you are familiar with the tool I’m talking about. Do you have a different application for a half moon blade tool? .
I’ve seen them. Me? I like the weight of a professional nursery spade.
Linda Charrron says
It’s nice that we have choices isn’t it. My edger is heavy enough for me. I’d be exhausted just lifting your tool. Never mind swinging it! That’s a beautiful yard you’re working in.. Thanks again. Linda
Mike – Thanks for your many useful tips. I have zoysia grass and it’s relentless traveling underground into garden beds and a pain to remove. Any suggestions on how to address this problem?
Me? I’d probably spray it with something as soon as it pops up. You can try horticultural grade vinegar or cleaning vinegar to see how well that works.
Linda L Walters says
I have followed your blog for quite a while and gleaned many good ideas from you and your followers. …I am wondering what you suggest for my query. The former owner of our house used lava rock as ground cover over black plastic sheets. and edging made of thick plastic and metal stakes. I am removing the edging and stakes and redoing the edging…what do I do about all the lava rock covering the beds? The beds need to be built up…can I just cover them with dirt? What can I do?
You can cover the lava rock. It would be nice to get as much of the plastic out first if that’s possible.
Linda L Walters says
Thank you for your reply and suggestion….at 70 I didn’t look forward to picking out all the lava stones… and building up with soil will make planting a bit easier.
Susan Culhane says
I’ve enjoyed your videos for some time and this is a particularly helpful one re edging. Not sure whether to buy a D-handle (like you are using) or a long-handled spade, on the King of Spades website. Then there’s the question of 13″ long or 15″ long blade. All are more than $80, but I’m willing to go the expense to get “the perfect edging spade”. Any thoughts on D-handle or long handle and blade length? I certainly agree with you that all plastic edging is useless!
P.S. Enjoyed your tour of Spring Plant Sale, despite rotten windy conditions! You and the donkeys are cool!
Without a doubt I’m a D Handle kind of guy. The D handle gives you the wrist control you need for edging. But when digging and try to cut hard roots you have to use a relaxed grip on the handle so you don’t jam your wrist. Let the weight of the tool do the work. 13″ might be a tad lighter. ??
Susan Culhane says
Thanks for your valued advice, Mike! Hope to get up to Perry one of these days.
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! I have an area that I want to “edge” without using the physical materials that you mentioned, and had absolutely no idea how to do that. I will be heading to Lowe’s or Home Depot to pick up the required tools, and this is my week-end project. 🙂
You’re welcome Joanie, glad to be of help.
Videos like this are why I really appreciate Mike’s backyard nursery. You always show practical skills, tips and tricks that average folks can put to use making their lives easier. Thanks Mike, keep them coming.
You’re welcome Joey.
Bill Crawford says
Hey Mike, saw this video last year and bought a king of spades . This is the last spade I will ever have to buy. I volunteer for Treehouse Wildlife Center and use this all the time there and at home Heavy? Yes it is,and indestructible . Thanks!
You’re welcome Bill!
Karin z says
I have enjoyed & learned a lot of ways to help & make my gardening experience so much easier. Thank you for taking the time to share this wonderful education tools and ideas.
You are welcome.
Debbie Morrison says
I love all your videos and advice! Thanks for all the time and work you put into each one. I noticed you have a deep wheeze in this video. If this is recent, I hope you will get this checked out before it turns into something serious!
Debbie, we shot this video some time ago. When I get too heavy that happens. Need to lose some weight! Again.
Thanks for another helpful video! I know it’s not easy to talk and work the ground at the same time but your hard breathing is a little concerning. Please take care of your health like you take care of others as well as your plants (and donkeys!)
I’ll mind my own business now,
Thanks so much Mike. Love your videos with all your animals also.
I’m having issues with wire grass. As you probably know nearly impossible get rid of. I’ve been working ²getting rid of it for a year now. Will I ever get it all?
Not sure what wire grass is, but if you can keep the area cultivated after you remove the grass that should do the trick.
Terry Sweitzer says
Thank you so much for this informative video.. Will now get rid of the plastic edging which does not work.
Gale Stovall says
Great video Mike enjoyed it very much. I have been doing my own yard for 40 years and have never seen your technique. I have been edgeing my beds with my string trimmer they look awful. I am going to try your technique today. Thanks for the great tip.
I watch your videos all the time for your great tips. I also have found this type of shovel perfect for edging! But now I want one like yours! Can you tell me the model number so I get the right one from the website? I have a ton of edging to do. Have created a monster, but couldn’t be a friendlier one!
I have no idea, it’s steel shanked nursery spade. Close to or over $100 for a good one.
Both anyhow on mike fo sho
Connie Lindsey says
I enjoyed your video very much. I was interested in your two tools. I do
have a spade, but what about your other tool? Is it hard to find??
Thanks for your teaching.
The second is a garden mattock. The first is a steel shanked nursery spade.
Kelly Garner says
Ha!, I’m well over 70 & I have always called a grave digger shovel
Kelly Garner says
I have always called
‘it’ a grave digger shovel
Barbara Prater says
Mike I saw you use a garden “bedding” tool. I loved it, but I cannot find one here in Gadsden, AL
It is used like to dig up bulbs, etc. will you please e-mail me and let me know where I can maybe order one? I hope you remember what I’m talking about. Thank you so much!
Not sure which tool you are thinking of.
Not so Mike, I found the same Spade as what you suggested for less money and is a well known brand, I have bought many of their tools and am very happy with the quality of Fiskars, they are both rough and tough and do the job as well as the one you mentioned, but I do like your tips and suggestions and have used many of your tips and suggestions so far since finding you online with great success, which I thank you for,
Chriss Gerhardt says
Thanks for all the nice photos. I went to your plant sale last September; the plants are beautiful. I made a perennial bed where a large pine tree had been cut down. Some of the perennials are showing new growth now, and I’m looking forward to spring.
That’s excellent! I hope to see you again this spring.
Donna Bentkowski says
Mike ,I HAVE WATCHED YOUR VIDEO ON HOW TO EDGE YOUR BED LIKE A PRO AND STIL AM NOT SURE HOW THE GRASS AND WEEDS STAY OUT OF YOUR BED. AND HOW YOUR MULCH DOES NOT WASH OUT OF YOUR BED INTO YOUR LAWN ESPECIALLY SINCE YOU BED IS ON A SLANT.I ALSO READ YOUR ARTICLE ON HOW TO KEEP YOUR WEEDS OUT OF YOUR BED BY USING NEWSPAPER VS WEED BARRIER FABRIC.
1).SO ARE YOU SAYING THAT FIRST U MAKE AN EDGE BY DIGGING OUT YOUR GRASS?
2),ABOUT HOW WIDE IN IN INCHE IS YOUR EDGE?
3)THEN AFTER U DIG OUT YOUR GRASS THEN R U U ARE LAYING LOTS OF NEWSPAPER DOWN AND MULCH ON TOP OF YOUR BED UP TO THAT EDGE THAT IS SO MANY IN. WIDE ?
4)AND THEN U MAINTAIN THAT EDGE BY PERIODICALLY PULLING YOUR WEEDS BOTH IN THE BED AND MOWING THAT EDGE TO KEEP THE GRASS AND WEEDS FROM GROWING OUTSIDE THAT BED ALONG YOUR EDGE THAT YOU MADE.?
5)HOW DO U KEEP YOUR MULCH FOM MOVING OUT OF YOUR BED WIH OUT A BARRIER AT LEAST TO THE HEIGHT OF YOUR MULCH,ESPECIALLY SINCE YOUR BED IS SLANTED DOWN LIKE MINE IS?
I KNOW U DON’T LIKE ANY KIND OF EDGING BUT I RECENTLY READ THIS ARTICLE ON HOW TO INSTALL PLASTIC LAWN EDGING BY WIKIHOW , CHECK THIS OUT;
I HIGHLIGHTED THE MAJOR PTS.IT SOUNDS LIKE THE PLACEMENT OF THEIR EDGING IS SO DEEP THAT IT COULD ACTUALLY HELP YOUR WEEDS AND GRASS FROM NOT GROWING IN YOUR BED.PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO READ THESE HIGHLIGHTED PTS. I ALREADY BOUGHT MY PLASTIC EDGING AND HAVE UNROLLED IT OUT ON MY LAWN AND I HAVE ALREAY HAVE DUG MY TRENCH ,JUST NEED TO FIND TUNE THE DEPH.
They said,”The trench should be as deep as your plastic lawn edging PLUS 2.5 cm. For example, if you are using 4-inch deep lawn edging, the trench will be 5 inches deep on the grass side.
The top of the edging is just level with the base of the growing grass. The top of the edging DOES NOT stick above the lawn; it will be almost buried and just visible after you back fill your trench!
The level of the soil should come up to, but not above, the top of the edging. Adjust the soil height as needed and tamp again.
THEY FURTHER EXPLAIN THEIR METHOD THIS WAY :
The purpose of plastic lawn edging is to keep the grass from growing into your flower beds. Grass grows from the roots which can survive as deep as 5 or 6 inches below the ground. Plastic lawn edging needs to be laid deep enough to prevent the deepest roots from growing underneath the edging – NOT to provide a surface for your electric weed-whacker (nor for holding the soil in!”
6 )I WAS WONDERING WHAT YOUR VIEWS ARE ?
7)MY ONLY QUESTION IS I WOULD THINK THAT IF ONES EDGING IS AT THE LEVEL OF YOUR SOIL THEN ALL YOUR MULCH COULD POSSIBLY STILL WASH OF YOUR BED,especially if one puts their bed on a slope,like i am doing.
.What do u think?
I KNOW THE OTHER PROBLEM WITH PUTING EDGING ABOUT AN IN.OR MORE ABOVE YOUR SOIL IS YOU WOULD HAVE TO CAREFULLY TRIM AROUND YOUR EDGING SO YOU WILL NOT HURT YOUR EDGING
I HADVE AN IDEA :
What if u put your edging about an in above your soil using round rocks along that edge to keep your mulch in your bed during heavy rains and then add another 5 in edge with a layer of newspaper and sand which you could easily run your mower over to keep the weeds down and u can also pull out your weeds easily if u do this regularly.
ALSO R U AGAINST ALL WEED BARRIERS, WHAT ABOUT DEWITT WEED BARRIERS, http://www.dewittcompany.com/pdfs/05_groundcover.pdf. It has a 5 yr.warranty when used in direct sunlightIt and is also recommended for professional landscaper jobs..I have used it for almost one yr. now and have an occasional blade of grass grow but it comes out easily in all of my garden pathways.Do u think if i just keep an eye out for weeds and pull them quickly it will be ok to use in my garden bed.I am growing lavender plants in sandy loam and poor rocky hill country soil.
i would appreciate your quick feed back.Thank u.
My mulch never washed out of my edged beds. It will where I have sidewalks that build up water in heavy rain, but the raised beds that are out in the lawn and simply edged with a spade? It never washes out. I like bark mulch, not mulch made from ground up pallets, just search mulch on this site to see the difference.
As far as I’m concerned plastic edging is a joke and a pain in the butt. I’ve never used it myself but ripped out miles of it that was heaved out of the ground or sticking up everywhere on homes that I was re-landscaping.
I use dewitt weed barrier in the nursery, it’s actually ground cloth. But the only thing we put on top of it are potted plants. No soil, no mulch. Weeds can and will grow through it. In time, covered with mulch it will become the worst nightmare in the world when it has to be removed. Even the roots from my potted plants will grow through it if I’m not careful and don’t let them set in one place too long.
Brenda Harkness says
Hi Mike, This vid about how to edge a bed REALLY made me fall in love with your style of landscaping. I know zip about plants or gardening. I have a new house with flat lawns front and back and two tree-lings (I don’t know what kinds of trees I have!)
You’ve taught me how to edge and how to build very attractive beds that won’t be a pain to maintain. You’re teaching me which tools to invest in and why.
I long to map out my landscaping design and develop it in a one-, three- and five-year plan. To help support this, I long to get my family involved in growing for profit. I think they’ll find it fun when they earn their first pay!
I don’t know how to thank you enough, Mike.
You’re welcome, glad that you find my information useful. Good luck growing!