How to Edge Your Lawn like a Pro

Man edging the sidewalk

What are the best lawn edging tools?

Most of us like to polish off our lawns with nice, straight edges along sidewalks, driveways, and curbs. A well-manicured landscape raises your home’s curb appeal and value.

You’ll find an array of tools on the market designed to create that straightedge cut. Some use gas, electricity, or battery while others require old-fashioned muscle-power.

Let’s presume you want to leave the sweating at the gym and look at the power tool options — the first thing to understand is the difference between edgers and trimmers.

Edging the sidewalk

Edgers vs. String Trimmers

● Edgers have a rotating steel blade that cuts vertically into the turf creating a distinct boundary along a sidewalk.

● String trimmers, known more commonly as weed whackers, have a filament string that cuts horizontally. But string trimmers usually have a rotating head that changes the angle to achieve a vertical edge.

An edger can cost just under $100 to more than $200 for a heavy-duty model. Most string trimmers start with a lower price tag.

If you want to put sweat equity into your yard, you’ll find manual edgers available. Some look like a shovel, but with a short, half-moon-shaped blade for digging a boundary. Others have a wheel and spiky rotary blades that allow you to roll along the curb and chop through the turf. The manual tools are cheaper, but sweatier work — especially if you grow a thick variety of grass. 

String trimmer

Which method is best?

It’s hard to find consensus even among lawn care professionals. Some people opt for manual tools, while others prefer powered equipment. Some do the whole job with weed whackers while others go for the edgers. Many use a combination of tools to perform various tasks.

If you go with powered equipment, having both an edger and a weed whacker may be ideal. The edger will create those sharp, distinct boundaries you want, while the trimmer will help maintain them. The trimmer is also great for other tasks, such as trimming around bushes and along fence lines. The metal blade of an edger cuts deeper and can get at roots.  Having both pieces of gear will likely set you back about $250.

Mowing the lawn

Tips to give you the edge on edging!

● Mow first and then edge to establish a grass height and avoid scalping at curbs. The variety of grass you have should determine the proper height. An exception to the mow-first rule is when your lawn is shaggy and has overgrown onto curbs and sidewalks. In that case, edge first so you can see the boundary between grass and concrete.

● Don’t rush! Move slowly and steadily, keeping an eye on your work. Watch out for sprinkler heads or any electrical lines that might be buried.

● If the weed whacker is your tool of choice, cut with just the tip of the string and spin new line out often, so you’re not using a short, frayed end.

● If you’re cutting a curved border around flower beds, first create an outline using rope, spray paint, or even a garden hose. Then you can follow the contours with your edger to get beautiful, smooth curves.

● Repeated cuts by trimmer string can damage tree trunks. Make a circle of mulch around tree trunks to keep the whirling string of trimmers at a distance.

● Wear protective gear. Safety glasses are a must, and anyone who has had an ankle lacerated by a weed whacker line will tell you long pants are essential. Stout shoes or boots are a good idea, especially when using a power edger.

Perfect lawn trims take time and practice. Be patient with yourself until you master the skill. Then, you can relax in your hammock with a drink and admire your handiwork.

Author Bio: Jacob Palmer is a gardening and landscape design writer. When mowing lawns on his street as a child, he discovered a lifelong passion for landscape design. He now has three children who can all be found helping him most weekends with his next big garden project.


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