Let's talk edging

alabamanicole(7b)August 22, 2011

Fall is fast approaching and I still haven't made all the decisions I need to make and planned out my landscaping going in soon. I may ask for some ideas for plants for specific niches, but right now I am stumped on edging.

Ideally, I'd like an affordable, permanent(ish) edging which effectively blocking both roots and creepers AND is mowable. I am trying to to create a huge maintenance nightmare edging everything because the reality is that I won't. :)

It's a tall order. Concrete curbing is the only material that seems to suit the bill, but *way* out of my price range. I have literally hundreds of feet to do.

I have pondered plants as edging, but I am leery. Anything robust enough to crowd out my yard mixture of violets, creeping charlie and strawberries might be a problem before long. (And I do have a little grass, otherwise I'd never have to mow.) I have some sort of dwarf mondo grass growing in my yard and doing well in both the full bore sun southern exposure and also on the northern side which is mostly shade. I don't really care if it takes over the yard but I'd rather not have it become a weed in the landscape beds.

Any other thoughts for edging, plants or otherwise?

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Mondo (Ophiopogon japonicus) WILL become a nuisance in your lawn and in your beds. It forms a turf, spreading pretty aggressively with its stoloniferous and rhizomatous growth habit.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 10:09PM
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If I had the money I would replace my cross-tie edgings with that sheet metal stuff ,Iron cold roll steel or whatever it is,not sure what the cost would be, less if it's a DYI thing I'm sure.It seems to be easier to mow around and weed eating would be better I think. Like you I decided to make my small lawn even smaller with the additions of raised beds( mine are in the middle of the yard instead of bordering the property(bad idea ,lots of weed eating( nothing to do with dining).Two of my beds are made of used power poles. placed tastefully diagonally in the middle of the side yard ( my wife's idea) . They present a real mowing challenge for the aged mower such as I.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 12:18PM
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I hear you, gruber. The metal is on my short list (about $3/ linear foot), as is the composite edging. Installing is a lot of labor but its very long lasting.

But the reality is I'm not going to weed whack. After I'm done mowing a large and already difficult yard, it just doesn't happen. So at $3/ft I'm creating more work I won't do - mowing is much easier than weed whacking. Hence the desire for a mowable edge.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 1:12PM
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Bamatufa(7 - Trussville, AL)

Consider DIY hyper-tufa.Hence my user name.It does require work but not all that expensive. At the right height,you can run your mower right over it.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 7:20PM
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bamatufa, that material never even occurred to me. I vaguely know what it is but haven't ever tried it. How is it at preventing creepers getting through the cracks? Can it be mortared to reduce this?

I found one GW link where someone had dug a shallow trench, filled it with the concrete mix and laid stones on top. Sounds pricey but effective -- mowable and relatively impervious to stuff growing in it. It won't stop anything from getting over or going real deep to get under, but no edging will. It also looked pretty good... but she only managed about 15' a day; might be a lifetime project at that rate. It might not work for me to do a trench, though since my lot is so steeply sloped.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 9:40PM
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Well let's face it, whatever you use (unless it is recycled something or other) is going to cost some bucks and as I have experienced is going to be labor intensive . So maybe you could just define the edges of your beds with a tiller or edging tool ect. and then go into weed combat mode mounted on your mower and armed with a pump up sprayer locked and loaded with roundup or other herbicide.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 10:09PM
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You make perfect sense.

I use an inexpensive gas edger to draw my "line in the sand" each spring, then use an herbicide to maintain that 8-inch "dead zone" between my St. Augustine lawn and my flower beds.

It isn't that unsightly, and saves me from towing around a "weed-eater" every two weeks, which would require regular visits to my chiropractor.


    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 10:42PM
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Bamatufa(7 - Trussville, AL)

The blocks were poured continuous and the gaps added afterwards and does not penetrate through the concrete.Hyper tufa sets up slow and allows you time to work and shape it. However, Nelson has the best idea and looks very attractive when done right. A pump sprayer and herbicide concentrate from a true hardware store or co-op would make it very economical verses what you would pay at the big box stores.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 12:38PM
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Hey Tufa! I am so glad that you mentioned that material and technique .I have been thinking about doing some cement sculpting for my yard,nothing as extensive as edging.I have a stacked stone sculpture,which my tomcat FAT BOB loves to knock the head off of,this may be the answer to that problem.Bird baths would also be an interesting project.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 1:33PM
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But I've been attempting to battle the edges around my garden the way described above this year with Round-Up and it's been a near failure. I have to do it at least as often as I would weed-whacking, plus there's always the danger of collateral damage.

I might have to try the tufa on a small project (do I have any small projects?!) to get the feel for it.

I guess what I am really looking for is a mowing strip versus an edging material. I has also considered setting bricks down just slightly raised above soil level in a mortar bed. The tufa would probably be easier to do.

Any other creative options?

It's funny that I'll happy spend hours collecting seeds and tinkering in the garden but have this aversion to getting the weed whacker out. :)

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 6:19PM
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Bama Nicole, I don't see how you can avoid, the weed eater, or herbicide....Also I don't see how the round up didn't work ,unless you were mixing it too dilute !....Over spray and windy weather is a real problem ....Lord knows we aren't bothered with that pesky rain.lol

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 7:11PM
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Roundup worked fine on the grass but most violets just turned spotty yellow and then and came back in a couple of weeks. Doubling and tripling the dose didn't seem to matter, neither did drowning them. It just doesn't seem to get down to the taproot. Loading mulch on top of the violets just makes them grow taller. They are adorable in the spring, if they'd only learn some manners.

I know there's no such thing as no-maintenance edges, but I'd prefer to spend extra money and effort ahead of time, even if I have to do it in chunks, to save work later. Every year it gets a bit harder to keep up so I try to focus on long term gain.

Maybe I should just transplant creeping charlie as my "groundcover" in the beds. :) It would really help me out if it would finish choking out the last of the grass in my front yard so I could stop mowing altogether. Ironically, the only thing that seems to choke out creeping charlie is St. Augustine. A former neighbor sodded their lawn years ago and it's taken over all the way up to the driveway.

I wish Irene would send us about 2 days of soaking rain, but it doesn't look like we'll get a drop.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 7:53PM
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Bamatufa(7 - Trussville, AL)

Try the Hi-Yield and Ferti-Lome brands sold in the independant hardware stores and Co-Op's. Ferti-Lome has some braodleaf herbicides that have worked for me on violets and such. The Hi-Yield killzall is great stuff and inexpensive.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 10:42AM
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After much thought, I think I've decided to dig a trench, fill it with sand and set pavers to create a mowing strip. I don't really want a hard edge but I do want more of a clean and finished look than the hypertufa mowing strip I linked to, although for their site it looked awesome.

I am guessing I'll still be buying and setting pavers a year from now. :) But I think it will pay off in the long run with minimal maintenance -- hopefully just cleaning up the lawn edge once a year or so either mechanically or chemically. Creeping charlie tends to stay under the mower blades so it will be my toughest customer.

Thanks for the input. Other peoples' perspectives always really help me focus on the parts that are important to me.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 4:57PM
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Fascinating discussion here.
I learned to love the violets, and when I run across some in the lawn, I dig them up and plant them with the ajuga over in the shade.

We had lots of old brick from tearing down our Katrina-damaged house on the river, so I laid them flat as a mowing guide for the walking lawn mower. I have a "yard friend" who is a demon with his weed wacker, so I let him do the honors. But I also get the weed suppressing type of dark mulch for my dressier flower beds out front. In the back yard, I use those 12x12 red pavers from Lowes for my walking paths, with an extra row of flat-laid bricks for the trim. What I wind up with is some pine straw mulch or chip mulch or weed suppressing mulch, and then that persistent dollar weed grows in that instead of the soil beneath, and I can thus remove it easier.

I'm not into perfectly maintained flower beds, dontchaknow, it is more hit or miss and very tropical looking around here.

But I'm fascinated with the hypertufa, and will be tempted to try it at some point. I hope you folks keep talking about what you've done so that I will stay inspired.

Love gardening, but not in the heat thank you. I'll wait for Thanksgiving to get serious about it.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2011 at 4:50PM
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michel7(8 AL)

bamatufa, can you direct me to instructions re the hypertufa edging? I desperately need a taller edging than what I find in the stores. Thanks for any help.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2011 at 9:34PM
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Bamatufa(7 - Trussville, AL)

michel7 - there are some sites out there but I do not recall where they are. I picked up most or all my info from the Hyper-Tufa forum on this site, Gardenweb. The key is the receipes for Hyper-Tufa. As far as edging,I built my forms from heavy cardboard and poured it in to set. Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2011 at 11:33AM
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